If you suffer from vaginismus, you will know how upsetting and frustrating the symptom is. This is particularly the case if you have struggled with it for a long time - It can seem like something that will never go away. However, there IS effective help for primary vaginismus and secondary vaginismus.
Lisa successfully went through the Thrive Programme. She had primary vaginismus - she had never been able to have penetrative sex or use a tampon. She kindly agreed to answer a number of questions from me, describing her experience of the Thrive Programme.
I hope that her candid and honest responses will help to encourage and advise other vaginismus sufferers currently going through the programme, or contemplating doing so.
How did vaginismus affect you?
It affected all my relationships, in that it stopped them from progressing. It affected my ability to open up, my confidence and self esteem.
Did you believe it was a physical problem, rather than psychological?
It definitely felt like a physical problem at the time and even after researching the proper term and having the intellectual understanding that it was in fact a psychological problem, it was still hard to properly acknowledge because the physical reaction felt so real.
What other methods/therapies had you previously tried to get over the vaginismus? Were they of any help to you?
I found a product on the internet called the vagiwave which is a silicone tampon sized object that you put inside your vagina while you’re sleeping every night for a month which claims to then cure you once you’ve completed the month. However it doesn’t address any of the phycological issues so when the month was over I was obviously still having problems and felt such a sense of failure and despair. However I do think this product was helpful in the routine of putting something inside, as it helped me locate my vagina properly and become more familiar with my body as I reckon before I got this product I didn’t actually know where my vagina was, which is crazy!
I also started working with a sexual psychotherapist just a few weeks before I started working with Cara. This was unhelpful because she pin pointed the cause of my problem to my childhood. I now realise that she had very little understanding of vaginismus and if I kept seeing her would have probably caused more damage. Thankfully I met Cara who steered me in the right direction and advised that I stop seeing the psychotherapist which I am now so unbelievably thankful that I did.
What sort of effort did you have to put into the programme in order to make it a success?
Giving every exercise my all, particularly processing the positives. At first I would wait for positive things to just happen and as a result wasn’t progressing as much as I could’ve done. It was when I took action to create my positives by finding ways to challenge situations every day that I experienced the most progress. For example just putting effort in to creating challenges for yourself everyday by putting yourself into an uncomfortable situation and challenging it such as buying lube and not caring what anyone thinks, turning up to a party by yourself, approaching people at the gym and initiating conversation, buying condoms, using dilators.
What are the main differences in how you feel after completing the programme?
Realising how simple it is to overcome vaginismus, it really is so simple. Before I started working with Cara and during the programme it felt like the most craziest complex problem to overcome and I now know how simple and logical it is to overcome and can apply the same process to anything I want to achieve in life and that fills me with confidence.
What advice would you give to vaginismus sufferers who are contemplating doing the programme?
Just do it! This is one of the best decisions I have ever made. If you want to overcome vaginismus in a simple logical way this is the way.
What advice would you give to vaginismus sufferers who are currently going through the programme, to make it as successful as possible?
– Get some KY jelly and start using it right away. Before Cara recommended this product to me I had been using regular water based lubes which hadn’t been doing the trick, after getting the KY I moved forward a great deal. Put it on everything tampons, dilators, vibrators, when you have sex. And now I can use any old lube.
– Educate yourself about your body. I didn’t know where my vagina was which I now find so crazy! I also didn’t know how to make myself orgasm until recently so believed that I wasn’t capable of orgasming at all, which is equally crazy. How can you feel relaxed sexually with another person if you don’t even feel relaxed by yourself. Get to know your body, where things are and what feels good: this is so important.
– Educate yourself about sex and understand that things like virginity are outdated social constructs that are not real, watching things like this is good way to educate yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qFojO8WkpA
-Get some dilators, for me these were really helpful. It just broke things down into small steps. This is where I felt most of my progress came from as when I started the programme the idea of dilators filled me with horror. I remember googling them and thinking as if I was going to use some weird, scary, medical looking instrument. So the process of buying them and using them was a massive challenge to my belief system. As all it was really was a bit of plastic that enabled me to get used to the feeling of having something in my vagina and allowing my mind and my body to relax.
Looking back I would definitely have started using these earlier along with the KY jelly. It was definitely a challenge moving up the sizes and I remember the frustration I felt when I had managed to get a size in and then the next day couldn’t get it back in. I got over this by calming myself down and just going back to the smaller size until I felt completely relaxed and tried the next size up again. When I first started using the biggest size there was a feeling of discomfort which I got over just by tolerating in stages, doing this daily until there was no discomfort. Then when I had sex a couple weeks later it was completely pain free, it felt really good and I was even able to orgasm.
-If you experience any blips during the programme and even after you’ve completed do not worry, just keep going you will get there. My understanding is that everyone overcomes it in their own time. For me, I had completed the programme and was still not having sex. I was working my way through the dilators and was still having blips, I remember thinking will I ever get there. It was maybe a month after I had completed the programme that everything I had learned just kind of clicked and fell in to place and suddenly everything that I had been putting effort into making a habit just became a natural instinct. I completed the programme about 3 months ago and am now having really amazing, enjoyable sex. So whatever level of progress you find yourself in during the course or after it – keep going you will get there no matter how far off it feels it will gradually just happen!
How Lisa Overcame Vaginismus by ex-vaginismus sufferer Lisa and Cara Ostryn Bsc