My journey with vaginismus started right around the time most people my age were exploring having sex.
I was 16 and attempted intercourse with my boyfriend at the time.
Right away something was wrong.
I felt excruciating pain without it even going in.
I knew it wasn’t normal but I was reassured next time it’ll work…
Well, it didn’t work next time. In fact, it didn’t work at all in the almost three years I was with him.
I knew there had to be something wrong with me and I confided in some girl friends but the response was “you’re just nervous and it’s meant to hurt the first time”. I had failed to explain to them that the pain was similar to what must feel like a knife digging into an organ, no exaggeration!
Because I was quite young I decided to keep quiet about it. Not realising how detrimental this would be to my mental health…
Although my boyfriend at the time didn’t pressure me into rushing things, I was in a relationship that emotionally taunted me as he was quite emotionally hostile towards me.
He saw my undiagnosed condition at the time as a weapon to keep me bounded to him. He knew I had no courage to leave.
Meanwhile, all my friends and my twin sister around me would engage in conversations about having sex. Exploring a world I desperately wanted to be apart of.
Overtime I saw myself as less of a woman.
I was still 16 when I came across an article written by Katrin. The word vaginismus was so haunting but as much as I didn’t want to accept it, I just knew.
The Darkness Continued
I had turned 18 as the pandemic happened, and we collectively as a world left our lives on standby, that’s when I was trapped with my thoughts day in and day out.
I had plummeted into a dark whole of low self-esteem and questioned if I’d ever be cured.
I would sit up late at night and tell myself how I couldn’t leave the relationship I hated to be in because no other male would ever look at me as I couldn’t provide them with the most intimate task.
I would remind myself how having kids was impossible at this point.
That was the most emotionally draining part.
The darkest months in my journey before seeking help saw me develop a form of OCD.
I was plagued with obsessive thoughts and the slightest thing would trigger it and then a domino’s effect of painful images wouldn’t leave my mind.
I developed insomnia because of it and the only way to escape was either drink myself to sleep, take Valium or Xanax. Whatever I could get my hands on.
My relationship with school lacked during this time because all I could think about was the demons in my head that wouldn’t shut up. I’d sit in my lessons and pinch myself to have those two seconds of distractions.
The First Spark Of Hope
I never had the courage to tell the most trusted person in my life, my mother.
However during one of the dark nights, when I was 18, she found me mid panic attack. Looking back now I don’t know why the hardest thing for me to do was tell my mother the secret I’d kept hidden for years.
She immediately looked at the options in treatment. I of course had already done the research.
Luckily, there is this renowned gynaecologist in London, Harley street who specialises in this. However the treatment was in the thousands.
I count my lucky stars that I have a family that could financially support this! My mother didn’t even hesitate.
We booked a consultation…
But The Trauma Continued
The whole experience was a fever dream and was more traumatic than just staying silent with my thoughts. As I sat on the stir ups, the assistant doctor had to hold tissue paper to my crying eyes and clutch my hand as i was inspected.
That was the lowest point of my self-esteem.
Why couldn’t I have a normal experience? Why am I sat here ? I hadn’t said a word in the whole consultation. I couldn’t even look the doctor in the eye.
I was overwhelmed and scared.
The doctor diagnosed me with level 3 vaginismus and I was to be sedated and have my hymen surgically removed. Then receive botox in my vagina muscles. It would paralyse the muscles surrounding it and allow my pelvis to relax.
The actual day of this surgery was physically and mentally traumatising..
And I must note, going down this route was a cop out as I avoided behavioural cognitive therapy at all costs. That would’ve required me to actually face my problem instead of medically getting a procedure and surgery done. I had to accept that my hymen was removed by a doctor (an amazing doctor).
As I woke up from the sedation, I was inconsolably crying and did so for the next week.
The scariest part wasn’t over.
I had to learn to use dilators and felt a rush in time because the botox only lasts a few months. As well as this, there is no guarantee it’ll work and allow for penetration.
I have no regrets though.
Gathering The Courage To Take Care Of Myself
Fast forward to 5 months later, I was 19. My boyfriend at the time offered no support during my journey and after successful dilating physical therapy on my own, I gathered the courage to leave my distressing relationship.
Within a week I had met someone who had shown more support and love towards me than I’d received before.
I didn’t confide in him about my condition however he questioned why my body jolted as he touched me. That was my body’s trauma response and I was deeply embarrassed and angry that after such a costly procedure to my body (and successful dilating), this was still happening to me.
However, instead of running back to the dark whole I was stuck in for years, I took it upon myself to just simply try something new.
The Light Beyond The Darkness
Within days, we had gotten a hold of magic mushrooms (psilocybin) and I kept an open mind and listened to my body.
I told myself, if I wasn’t able to have successful penetration whilst tripping, then there was no point in living.
I had a good feeling about it – though I had done no research into if this could work or not.
I just trusted myself, my new partner and this drug (a wonderful mushroom that the earth planted for us, thanks Earth).
A large dose later, 2 hours after dosing, I felt every mental and physical trauma that grew within my teenage years just wipe away. (Note: if you decide to try magic mushrooms yourself, please do your research to determine an appropriate dose for you! What I took was a dose larger than typically recommended.)
I successfully had PIV (penis in vagina) sex.
That day changed my life and as annoying as it is to say or hear, I felt worthy of living.
I just felt like a woman.
I can date normally. I could have kids. I could get married knowing I could show my future partner I love them.
More importantly, I stopped hating myself.
My self doubt and insecurities walked out of the door. The days of my obsessive compulsive thoughts left with no trace.
I reached an inner peace with myself.
It felt like the battle to be a normal girl was over.
Magic mushrooms and the possibilities it has to heal your mental health and quite clearly physical problems isn’t spoken about enough. It is taboo to talk about such personal conditions such as vaginismus, but it is also taboo to talk about drugs (no matter how natural).
The stigma about both topics needs to be erased because this condition is more common than I had thought. It is beyond important to keep an open mind about the many ways to cure this condition.
There are holistic approaches, medical approaches but also non-traditional approaches provided to us by Mother Nature.
Looking back, I wish I had incorporated microdosing in my dilating therapy sessions as well.
To this day, the boy I first had intercourse with during my trip still doesn’t know about my condition or that he was my first. And that’s perfectly fine if that’s what I felt most comfortable with. We are still friends.
None of this would’ve been possible without the support of my mother. The amazing gynaecologist expressed how lucky I was to have a women like her in my life..
Today, I can’t bear to imagine the other teenagers out there suffering in silence like I did. And of course the adults too.
Although my journey was mentally and physically distressing, in hind sight I’m happy and overwhelmed with my progress.
I am now 21 and living life without a dark cloud plaguing over me.
I don’t reflect on my journey regularly.. It was traumatic, but the ending was beautiful enough to leave it as it is and start a new chapter of my life.
– S. (21 years old, London, UK)