Vaginismus: The Unheard of Sexual Disorder (4 min read)

Ordinary. At some point or another most of us feel that is all we are.  We convince ourselves that we are normal, that our day to day events are commonplace, that our lives are mediocre, mundane, uneventful.  Even significant accolades that we spend countless hours grueling over, we somehow trivialize and believe that others won’t care or that these events will mean nothing to someone else.  They are only relevant to our own lives.

I believe this is where most of us go wrong.  All of us have a unique story.  What is most unique is that while each story is individualized and specific to its author, it can deeply impact many others, many who are not directly a part of it.

Vaginismus.  The word is ugly but nowhere near as ugly as the prognosis itself.  Despite the fact that one in three women experience Vaginismus to some severity, most people (even those who have it), have no idea what it is (Herbenick, D., 2010). 

The importance of whole-being wellness I experienced through treatment of Vaginismus in 2014 has become a life-long belief system. It’s not a one time fix; it’s a daily intention.

Referred to as “the sexual disorder you’ve never heard of,” Vaginismus is “the second most prevalent sexual difficulty presenting at clinics” (Blatchford, E., 2016; McEvoy, M., 2018).  Vaginismus is a condition where there is an involuntary tightening of the vaginal muscles during any insertion or penetration. This can make regular gynecological wellness exams, tampon use, sexual intercourse, or pregnancy extremely painful and in many cases, impossible.

Because it’s not talked about, sufferers feel alone; they feel broken, abnormal.  Quite honestly, they feel like a mistake, like a dysfunction themselves. This is exactly how I felt before I even had a term to describe it. 

I didn’t need the name Vaginismus to tell me that it meant broken, alone, hurt, dysfunctional.  I already knew I was all of those things before I had a name for them.  What I needed the name for was to know why I was broken, alone, hurt, dysfunctional, and ultimately how to heal and become one.

I was never really given that name, at least not by a professional who is supposed to have the knowledge to diagnose it.  I was so broken, not even a doctor had a name for it.  I was given that name by my husband, a website, and a kit he purchased online.  This is how I found out there was a name for my brokeness, my loneliness, my hurt, and my dysfunction, and from that point on it became my name; it replaced “Dana,” “wife,” “daughter,” “sister,” “friend,” and “teacher” for nearly the next three years.

Those 3 years of not knowing and kind of knowing, were characterized by a lot of therapy, from dilators bought over the Internet, to research and asking questions of professionals and non-professionals, lots of prayers and a lot of pain and suffering. No matter what we did, the help we sought, nothing seemed to help. The frustration, the loneliness, for both my husband and I increased ten-fold. We had lost hope that anything would ever change.

Many different events and circumstances helped me to find a cure in April of 2014 at The Women’s Therapy Center (WTC) in New York. The reason I believe that my time at WTC was successful in curing my Vaginismus, as well as so many other women, is because they do not just treat the physical. They understand that everything is connected.  They pride themselves on being so successful because they incorporate both mind and body work.  I underwent an intense 2 week treatment where each day we underwent two sessions, one morning and one afternoon.  Each session included a physical session and afterward a psychological session.  Sometimes I was by myself and other times my husband was involved. 

I truly believe that my own understanding, as well as medical professionals that embraced the belief that we are multi-faceted and all parts of our life from physical, psychological, social, spiritual, etc. are connected, allowed me to experience healing.

14 months apart, this side by side photo represents the whole-being wellness I experienced after treatment for Vaginismus. My mind, body, and spirit were healed.

My chapter of sexual dysfunction has been over for almost 8 years this month, but my story is nowhere near finished.  Talking about this has never been easy and will never be easy. It was never something I wanted to talk about, but something I knew I needed to talk about.  Many times we are put into situations that take us out of our comfort zones and force us to be people we never imagined we are.  This is one of those times for me. And for that I am very thankful.

This is why I so strongly believe in whole-being wellness, because for many years I myself was broken and did not understand why. 

It wasn’t until I experienced healing, that I was able to understand the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit. The importance of whole-being wellness I experienced through treatment of Vaginismus in 2014 has become a life-long belief system. It’s not a one time fix; it’s a daily intention.

You may not suffer from Vaginismus; you probably have a completely different and unique story yourself. Share your story of healing and your experience of whole-being wellness.

Author: Dana Perich, Lifestyle Mentor

If you need resources related to Vaginismus or women’s sexual dysfunction, please email us at [email protected]