Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Have Yourself A Merry Vaginismus!


I am going to be flitting around the country visiting family and friends, so am officially signing off for Christmas (unless anything MAJOR happens. Like I have sex or whatever. Then I'll probably write something).

A couple of things before I go...

Christmas has come early at Hey Vaginismus HQ, thanks to the lovely people at Jo Divine.  We have been chatting over on Twitter and they have very kindly sent me a box of products which will hopefully help with and compliment vaginismus treatment.  I'll be writing about how I get on with the products but just for your info, I will be trying: OhMiBod Lovelife Dream vibrator , Yes Organic Water Based Lubricant and Yes Organic Oil Based Lubricant.

Here's me and my festive nails modelling the products...

Thanks Jo Divine! Pretty excited to play with my new things!

Also, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has read the blog, retweeted, emailed and commented on what I have been writing. 

Vaginismus is no fun, but Hey Vaginismus! has most definitely helped me to find some light in a pretty hard situation.  I am hoping 2016 is the year I say farewell to vaginismus forever, but if it isn't, I know that I have lots of great people supporting me through Hey Vaginismus!


Please have lot's of sex!


Monday, 21 December 2015

Vagina Athlete

So, I have a couple of quiet days before the madness of Christmas kicks in (if you don't count doing all my Christmas shopping... If you thought my denial and avoidance of vaginismus was bad, wait till you hear about my gift buying... Another day perhaps...)

I was up bright and early this morning and full of determination to get back on track with dilators.  It has probably been around 2 weeks since I last used them.  Not a big deal, lots of people go more than 2 weeks without anything going into their vagina, but when it's a hit or miss situation whether your anxious vag will accept insertion, it can feel like a long time.

At my last therapy appointment, a few days ago, my therapist was asking what my 'routine' was when using dilators.  For example, masturbation? Relaxation? I had to confess to the TV watching and biscuit eating, and also the habit I have fallen in to of lining the dilators up and inserting each one in order, from smallest to largest.  Even though I completely know and trust that I can insert the bigger dilators, I always start off with the smallest one, just in case.  I call it my 'warm up'.  An athlete wouldn't just roll out of bed, and sprint in the Olympics.  Neither can I just take my underwear off and shove an enormous plastic penis inside me.  I'm a vaginismus athlete, and I need to stretch.

Now, while this sounds like very clever logic, my therapist and I discussed what I had been starting to suspect all along.  Yes, vagina athletics is all very well and good, but when it comes to having real, actual sex, there isn't going to be time to go through the ritualistic warm up routine before inserting the husband's penis.  In fact, it's not even physically possible.  Sadly, the male anatomy has not yet evolved to shrink to the size of a finger, then gradually move up to different sizes in a controlled fashion.  It just goes from one size, to the other, very quickly. And nobody can really control it.

My therapist suggested that, now that I'm working with the biggest dilators, it might be time to ditch the routine, and stop starting every session with D0.  Sometimes, therapists suggest things that make you feel scared or sick, but this actually made a lot of sense to me.  I have faith in myself and my vagina now. We can do this!

But this morning, after two weeks of no dilators, that felt like an impossible task.  I stuck D2 (the middle sized dilator) on the handle but before I even tried to insert it, I knew it wasn't going to go in. So, I must confess, I went back to D0.  Only for a few minutes! Promise!

After I was feeling comfortable with D0 inside me, I skipped D1 and went straight to D2.  I inserted it easily and took it out after a couple of minutes, so that I could concentrate on D3.  Luckily, that one went in quite easily too.  The pain is getting noticeably less, and I was thrilled that the trademark vaginismus burning didn't rear it's ugly head again, after my little dilating holiday.

So, tomorrow, my goal is to do it all over again, but this time start with D2.  The sooner I can insert large dilators with no 'warm up', the sooner I can move on to a penis, and win that gold medal for shagging!

Do you have a routine for dilating? Let me know!

Friday, 11 December 2015

Mirror Signal Manouvre

So, apologies for the lack of updates on my vagina, lovely readers.  I have been in a living hell this week, dealing with something EVEN WORSE than vaginismus.  I have been learning to drive.

Much like with penetrative sex, I have managed to make it to the ripe old age of 30 without ever learning to drive a car.  Much like with vaginismus, I have employed my favourite skills of avoidance, excuses and denial.

'I don't need to learn to drive.'  'I'm too busy for driving lessons.' 'I'm poor! Food before driving, at all times'.  'I really like public transport'...

All of these excuses, and more, have come out of my mouth at some time or another when challenged by a friend, family member or colleague over my lack of drivers licence.
I have dabbled with lessons in the past but never given it my full attention and commitment.


This week, I have driven for 3 hours every day.  Then I get home from my lesson and watch DVDs and fill in a logbook and do quizzes about driving.  It's called an 'intensive driving course', and they're not lying.  It's been VERY  intense.  I now have the weekend off to bite my nails and shit myself, and then I am doing my driving test on Monday afternoon.  Oh what fun.

I have never really imagined myself being able to drive.  I always thought it was one of things that just wasn't meant for me.  I was destined to spend my life on buses, and begging friends for lifts.  But now, it's actually a reality. I am sitting my driving test on Monday, and, if I don't do anything ridiculous and keep my nerves under control, I might actually pass it.

My driving instructor said today 'There isn't anything you don't know how to do.  You just need to relax and focus and you'll be fine'.

And do you know what? He's right.

I have surprised and amazed myself over the past few months with how I have tackled vaginismus.  I have learned about my own body, memorised what my vagina looks and feels like.  I have manouvered dilators the size of penises into my vagina, and known when to speed up and when to slow down.  I have used judgement to know when to stop, and when it's ok to proceed.  There isn't anything I don't know how to do.  I just need to relax and focus, and I'll be fine.

Learning to drive and overcoming vaginismus basically involve the same parts of my brain.  And both of these processes are so nearly there. They just need some fine tuning and practice.  And most importantly, letting go of that control that I love so much.

Will I pass my driving test on Monday? Maybe.  Will I have penetrative sex with my husband next week? Probably not.

But it's the knowing that these things are possible and believing it, that are important.  As always, it's not a race. It'll happen when the time is right.

Wish me luck! x

Thursday, 3 December 2015

The Only Way Is Up

One of the really cool things about having vaginismus is the feeling you get when you conquer one of your dilators.  You spend so much time working on it, trying every time you use it to push it in that little bit further, fist pumping with joy when it stops hurting and feeling like a total boss when it eventually just casually slides in while you lie on the sofa watching cookery shows, and not giving a shit.

To all those readers who don't have vaginismus, I'm sorry. You'll NEVER understand this feeling. So haha. Us vaginismus ladies win.

I almost want to put a little cap on, and sing the graduation song every time I move up a size. Obviously I don't, that's weird.  But I'll probably do it after the first time I have sex.  My husband is very musical. Perhaps he can learn it on the guitar and we can have a little ceremony in the bedroom.

Anyway, as you'll see from previous posts, I have been working with dilator number 3 (which is actually the fourth dilator in the kit.  The first one is called zero.)  This has been the toughest one so far, and it has taken me much longer than before to get totally comfortable with it.  Not really surprising, given the size of the bloody thing.

But D3, or George as he is affectionately known, is now a pleasure to deal with.  I have persevered and stuck at it, and am now at the casual, sliding stage.  Boom!

So today, after successfully inserting George three times in a row, I decided to get his successor, the dreaded D4, out of the bag.  Now, words can't quite describe the size of this thing.  It's allegedly penis sized, but I'm pretty sure a lot of men would kill to have a penis like D4.  It is a beast.

A nice, civilised name like George is not going to be suitable for this bad boy.  I'm thinking something along the lines of Everest, or Warrior, or The Hulk are more appropriate.

So, I took the beast out of his bag, and had a little look and a think about it.  And then I decided to give it a go.

This felt completely different to all the other dilators.  It genuinely felt as if it was an impossible task. However, I took a deep breath, and was quite amazed that I managed to get the tip inside my vagina.  Just the tip.  No graduation gowns yet. But still.  Quite a step forward.

I'm excited to be starting to experiment with D4, but it's also a hugely symbolic moment.  D4 signifies the end.  Not necessarily the end of vaginismus forever of course, there's a lot of other work to be done before I'm having lovely, pain-free sex.  But the end of one part of it all.  When I bought that dilator kit I don't think I ever believed I would be inserting something that size into my vagina (and then sitting down with a cup of tea and writing a blog about it!)  Now, when I look at the very first, tiny dilator, I can't believe it was ever a problem for me.

That's the nice thing about dilators. It's very easy to, literally, measure how far you've come.

Wanna talk dilators? Or vaginas? I DO!!!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

A Quickie: Vaginismus Dreaming

I had a really weird dream the other night. The kind that you would go in to work and tell someone about, even though you know nobody cares about your stupid weird dream.

Well, nobody that I work with knows I have vaginimus, so I will tell my weird dream to all you poor readers.

SO... I had this dream that I looked in the mirror and I had a big white spot on my forehead. You know the type, the ones that just need to be squeezed immediately.  So I squeezed it and, slowly, a big massive white tube emerged from my head. It kept coming and coming, until eventually it fell out and it had a little grey handle on the end.

Yes. It was a dilator.

I dreamed that I squeezed a fucking dilator out of my own head.

Now, I don't think we need a magic dream analyst to tell me what's going on here.

Vaginismus, literally, on the brain.

And with that horrifying image, enjoy the rest of your day! ;-)

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Who Vaginismus?

Since I started this blog, I feel that vaginismus is in the forefront of my thoughts most of the time.

In the morning, I reach for my Iphone, do the usual email, facebook, twitter routine, but now I also check in with the blog.  Sometimes before I even check in with work.  I spend so much time thinking, writing and tweeting about my own vagina- and I love it!

My husband reads the blog, and obviously is involved in my treatment, so we spend a lot of time talking about vaginismus.  But not in the sad, desperate way that we used to.  We laugh about it now, and we talk optimistically about the future.  We have a catalogue of vaginismus related in-jokes, and have learned how to talk about sex and our feelings in a candid, rational way.  Score!

I see my therapist about once a fortnight- and, rather unsurprisingly, vaginismus is our main topic of conversation. I usually go away from appointments with something to think about (or write about), and definitely something to talk to my husband about.


With all this vagina chat running through my head, it can sometimes be difficult to stop myself talking about it in every day conversation.  There have been so many occasions where I have been chatting to friends, or colleagues, and something has come up that has made me think about vaginismus.  And it nearly falls out my mouth, until I quickly remember that I can't say it.  I can't talk about it, because apart from my husband, therapist and blog readers, nobody knows that I have vaginismus.  Not even my parents, sister, best friends.  They have no idea.

I have made the conscious choice to remain anonymous when blogging, and to keep this side of my life a secret from the people that I know.  The reasons were originally simple: This is embarrassing and private and shameful. The end.

However, as I talked to more women with the condition, and talked so normally about it with my husband, the shame and embarrassment has started to subside. It has been replaced by a drive and motivation to get through it, raise awareness and help others in my situation.

But I still remain anonymous.

The reasons for doing so have become more complex.

My husband and I spoke about this earlier.  I feel, now, that one day I would like to not be anonymous. That my photograph will be on this blog.  That my face will appear on my twitter.  And maybe even that my nearest and dearest will know and understand the absolute rollercoaster of vaginismus madness that my husband and I have been through in top secret.  But not yet.  To tell them while it's all still happening just seems too hard. And not because of embarrassment. Because I worry that they might be hurt that I haven't told them before.  That they might be shocked that my husband and I have been going through all of this and deliberately shut them out.  That they will ask too many questions that we don't feel ready to answer.  That they'll gossip about it when we're not there.

So for now, I am anonymous.

That said, one of my goals when I started this blog, was to meet another woman with vaginismus in person.  See here . That has not happened yet, and I would be more than willing to ditch the anonymity in that situation.  So, if you'd like to see my face in person, let me know.
Creeps and weirdos need not apply, but fellow vaginismus sufferers are most welcome!

Say hello!
tweet tweet @heyvaginismus

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Flying Solo

My husband has left home for a few weeks for work, which means I am temporarily living alone.  This isn't unusual, he works away quite a lot, but it's the first time he has gone away since I started vaginismus treatment.  The first time I've been 100% responsible for motivating myself to keep at it and not just fall into my old, bad habits of avoidance.

So far, it's been going rather well.  I have been using the dilators nearly every night, and am powering through with George (D3). He is now going all the way in, and is hardly hurting me at all.  Hooray! Who needs your husband when you have a guy like George, right? (Just kidding, husband... please come back!)

However, I have noticed that with all this dilator time, I am now getting a bit casual about the whole thing.  I am thrilled that I am no longer a bag of jangling nerves every time I get the dilator bag out the drawer.  No longer do I need to go and sit in a quiet room, breathe deeply and think about beautiful sunsets to get through insertions.  In fact, I am now a bit blase about the whole affair.  For example, this evening, I have just sat inserting dilators, one by one, whilst wearing a Christmas jumper, watching Masterchef and eating a chocolate digestive...  I've hit a whole new level of 'not giving a shit about putting things in my vag'.  BIG CHILLED OUT PAT ON THE BACK FOR ME, THANKS!

Now, while this is very, very good, I sometimes need to remind myself that the end goal of this process is SEX.  I am not sure that the husband will be willing to have sex whilst watching cookery shows, and eating biscuits.  I need to start thinking a bit more sexually when I use the dilators.

While my husband is away, I have two options.

One- have an affair.
Two- Start masturbating.

As a product of Catholic school I can tell you that both of those are a fast track pass to hell.

But, as I am unwilling to become a  love-cheat in the name of vaginismus, I think I'm going to have to face up to the latter.

I have never been a masturbator.  You will recall, dear readers, that only a matter of months ago, I was too scared to touch my own genitals.  The idea made me feel sick.  This is not conducive to having productive sexy time with yourself.  I have tried to masturbate before, but always with my underwear on.  I'd guess that's a bit like drinking a cocktail through a sock.  You sort of get the point, and a bit of the good stuff, but most of it is lost in the material.

So, in the absence of my husband, and to save myself from associating inserting things into my vagina with crap reality TV, I am going to make an effort to start having more solo sex.

Wish me luck on my new venture! MASTURBATION AHOY!

Masturbation tips appreciated... as always, do get in touch  x

Monday, 23 November 2015

Can't Get Enough Of Your Love Baby

Last night's date with the dilator was obviously written as a bit of a joke, mainly to counter the rather grim, seriousness of my previous post.  I didn't ACTUALLY take a dilator on a date.  And sorry ladies, his sage advice and suave banter was all just a figment of my imagination.  George is, as you may have suspected, just a big, cold bit of penis-shaped plastic on a stick.

However, last night, after our imagined date, I took George (sorry can't call him anything else now!) through to the bedroom, cracked open a bottle of lubricant and decided to see what happened.

And guess what? After a bit of persevering and deep breaths, George went in.  Completely, fully, totally in.  Sure, it wasn't comfortable, but it was in.  And, like George himself told me on our date, I've been in this position before with all the dilators that came before.  It's difficult, sore, weird, makes you need to pee, and makes you feel like it will never be comfortable the first time you insert the next size up dilator.  But eventually it'll feel fine.

The next size up from George is D4.  The final dilator in the kit.  It is freaking enormous.  I think I'm going to continue hanging out with George for a little while longer before I even consider moving on.  But it's a cool thought... the next size up is the last one.

Then... PENIS.

There is DEFINITELY an end to all of this.  It's not this week, this month, even this year.

But it will end.

And then something new will begin for me and my husband.

But I think George will always have a piece of my heart.

Sorry husband.

electronic mail me :
tweet tweet! @heyvaginismus

Sunday, 22 November 2015

A Date with a Dilator

So sometimes when you're not getting along with someone very well, the best thing to do is to talk it out.

Me and Dilator 3 haven't been the best of friends, so perhaps we should crank up the Barry White, light a nice candle, pour some wine and just have a really good chat about things...


Me:     Good evening, D3. Thanks for agreeing to meet up

D3:     No problem.  You look nice. I like your hair

Me:     Oh, you big flirt! And you're looking nice too. I like                 your... handle.

D3:     Thanks. I think grey really suits my colouring.                        Anyway I am glad you asked me here tonight.                          I think you're right. We need to talk

Me:     Yeah.  We need to be a bit more honest with each                     other. And no stupid cliches.  None of that 'it's                         not  you, it's me' crap.

D3:     Right... but to be fair, it is you.

Me:     (sighs)  Do you want some wine?

D3:     Yes. Thanks.

Me:     What should I call you?  D3 sounds a bit formal.

D3:     Whatever you like. I'm a dilator. I don't really have opinions about things like that.

Me:     What about George?

D3:     Sounds good.  Anyway, I think you're avoiding the issue, now. That's not like you, is it?

Me:     Oh ha ha. Very funny.

D3:     Seriously, though.  We need to sort this out. I don't want you to hate me

Me:     I don't hate you! I like you. You just really frustrate me.  I feel like I try and try with you, but              you just don't do what I want you to do.

D3:     I don't think that's fair.  I think we're doing well.  Every time we meet up, we spend a little bit                more time together, and  our dates are getting longer and longer.

Me:     Yes, that's true. But sometimes you really hurt me

D3:     I know. And I'm sorry about that. But when you think about it, every dilator before me has                  hurt you too but you gave them a chance and ended up getting on quite well with them.

Me:     I know. There's just something about you. You're different to the others.

D3:     I'm better looking.

Me:     You look the same, George.  Just bigger.

D3:     Yeah but I look more like a penis. I'm the real deal, baby.

Me:     The last time I looked, the real deal wasn't white and plastic...

D3:     Look, your clearly in denial.  But I know I'm right.  I'm big and phallic and gorgeous, and                    none of the others are anything like me. You're obviously going to need more time to get used            to me. I'm a stallion.

Me:     You're also extremely arrogant.  I hate to admit it though, but what you're saying does make                sense

D3:     Ah! I am also a genius.

Me:     Well, where do we go from here?

D3:     Well, first of all, you need to calm down.  Just chill and enjoy our time together.

Me:     You need to stop hurting me

D3:     Well, I will.  But you need to chill first.  You know that

Me:     (slams fist on table) SHIT! I hate it when my dilators are right!

D3:     (nods, wisely)  We do know what we're doing, you know.

Me:     OK, thanks, George.  Even though you're rude, you've made me feel a bit better.  Have you                finished your wine?

D3:     Yes

Me:     Right, let's go back to mine.  Get your coat, George. You've pulled

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Tampon + Mars Bar = Vaginismus

I have my period this week, which is rubbish for all the usual reasons, but ESPECIALLY rubbish when you're trying to sort your vagina out. No dilators, no fingers, no sexy time with the husband.  It's a very unproductive, inconvenient time. Or is it?

I just decided to attempt a tampon.

I have tried this in the past, starting when I was a teenager, but never had any luck.  When I was at school, there was a story floating around about a girl a few years older who stuck a Mars Bar into her vagina at a sleepover, and then couldn't get it out.  She had to go to hospital and have it surgically removed AND her boyfriend dumped her.  I fully believed this story, although now I have met people from all over the world who also went to school with a girl a few years older who put a Mars Bar in her vagina... so I'm thinking it might have been a rumour.

Alongside the Mars Bar story, I remember reading an article about toxic shock syndrome and how leaving a tampon inside for too long could basically make you die.  I'm a natural worrier (shocking, right?) and convinced myself that a horrible combination of the two stories was going to happen to me. The tampon would get stuck, I would have to go to hospital and then tragically die of toxic shock syndrome. And my boyfriend would probably dump me. Even though I was already dead.  You could say I was an over-thinker.

All joking aside, I now realise my failed tampon attempts where the earliest signs of vaginismus.  Fear of what might happen if the tampon went inside started those involuntary muscle spasms I now know so well.

So I've lived my life only using sanitary towels, which is fine. There have been about 3 occasions in my life where it's been awkward (like being caught out with a surprise bleed and a friend offered a tampon.  Cue me running to the toilet, shoving tampon in the bin and rolling up piles of toilet roll and putting it in my pants as a make-shift towel). The other difficult times have been on holiday, when a period has prevented me from swimming in the pool.  But nothing major.

It would be nice to have a choice though.

So tonight, I attempted a tampon.  And it went in. It felt a bit uncomfortable, and I only left it in for a few minutes before pulling it out and going back to my trusty sanitary towel, but hey. It was in.  I used a tampon tonight, ladies and gentlemen. OK, so I didn't actually leave my bathroom whilst it was inserted but, as always, small steps!

Tell me your tampon tales!
Tampon tweet @heyvaginismus

When It's All Over

If you'd asked me six months ago if I ever saw myself getting over vaginismus, I would probably have said no.  After living with it, and avoiding dealing with it, for my entire adult life, it didn't seem likely that anything would change.

But something did.  Something has.  I don't know how or why, but suddenly I am powering through a treatment programme and seeing some light at the end of the very tight vaginismus tunnel.  I have started working on D3 -it's going about 3/4 of the way in, so nearly there! After that, it's just the big giant D4 to deal with and then, ideally, some real actual sex.

I have become so used to seeing, touching, using and talking about dilators that to picture my life without them is quite strange.  It will be a brilliant day when I finally stop having to use them, but after having been such a big part of my life, it seems a bit sad to throw them in the cupboard, or the bin, never to be seen again.  With much loved clothes and handbags that I no longer use, I always donate them to charity shops, but I'm thinking nobody's going to want my pre-loved kit of vaginal trainers.

My husband and I were talking about this the other night, and began to think of ideas for what to do with them when it's all over. I thought I'd share some of our best ideas, just to make you smile if you're having a particularly rubbish day (vaginismus or otherwise).

If you don't have vaginismus, this is what dilators look like...


  1. Punch holes in them, thread them onto a ribbon and create a piece of 'statement jewellery'
  2. Stick googly eyes and little wigs on them and create a Vaginismus  Awareness Raising Puppet Show
  3. Fill your hollow dilators with yummy fruit juice then stick the handle on. Stick in the freezer overnight and enjoy a lovely ice lolly on a hot summers day
  4. Fill D4 with lentils, then stick the handle on the end.  Give to first born child to use as a rattle
  5. Put D4 (with handle attached) under your pillow and use as a weapon to scare away burglars/ murderers/ ghosts
  6. Stick wings on D4 and put it on top of the Christmas tree, to remind you to have plenty of festive sex
  7. GOLD-PLATE THE DAMN THINGS and put them in a glass cabinet as reminders of how bloody well you've done to no longer require dilators in your life.  If anyone asks what they are, just tell them they're trophies for being the champion of your own life. FIST PUMP!

Any other suggestions? Send them my way!
twitter @heyvaginismus

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Sex Education with Jesus and the Nuns

A classic reason for women winding up with vaginismus, is a lack of proper sex education.  I have written a little bit about this in previous posts but thought I would spend some time reminiscing about the laughably poor excuse for sex education that I experienced.

I attended a Catholic school and was brought up in a very religious family.  We went to church every Sunday, and I prayed every night before bed. For my First Holy Communion, I received gifts of rosary beads and religious pictures to hang in my bedroom.  I was pretty gutted when I went into school on the Monday after that special day, to find that most of my friends had been given Nike Air Max trainers and Take That albums.

The first I ever heard of sex was from a really cool girl in my class at primary school. I was probably about 8.  She told me the basic facts and then strutted off before I could ask any questions, no doubt to break the bad news to some other poor soul that they would one day have to participate in this disgusting behaviour.  My best friends and I were obviously fascinated by it all, and used to sneak 'Growing Up'  books out of the library when our mums weren't watching. We would hide in our rooms and look at the pictures of pubic hair and breasts, with a mix of fascination, disgust and hilarity.  The fact that we had to hide this new interest from our parents tells you all you need to know about how little sex was discussed in our families. In short, it wasn't.

At secondary school, it happened.  The rumours were rife.  Sex education was coming.  OH. MY. GOD.

We received our sex education at age 14, as part of religious education classes.  Actuals.  I remember it vividly, and it was hideous.

Picture the scene.  A video with a very 80s looking man with a big beard, in a green cuddly wool jumper, sits in an armchair.  He explains to us that when we grow up we can have sex, but only if we're married and in love.  He then tells us that we need to be like Jesus.  Jesus was a real man, and a loving man.
Clearly he would only have had sex if he were in a loving, committed relationship, and not preoccupied with being the son of God, and getting crucified and all that.

So that was useful.

Then, a few weeks later, the nuns came.  They came with a slideshow.  The slideshow was a selection of images of 'front bottoms' with a range of horrifying sexually transmitted diseases.  Weeping sores and crusty bits. The lot.  THIS IS WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF YOU HAVE SEX, BOYS AND GIRLS.  The biggest insult of this class was that it happened right before lunch.

Very useful, indeed.

So we knew not to have sex before marriage, because Jesus would never have done that. And we knew what would happen if we did have sex before marriage, and we could see that it would be sore.

But we didn't ACTUALLY know how to have sex.  They didn't tell us the mechanics of it.  Presumably when you're in love, and married, you just know what to do and it all just falls in to place.

Obviously, most of my friends hooked up with others from school, and they just tried it out and experimented until it worked. Unfortunately, my first boyfriend was as devoutly, terrifyingly Catholic as I was, and we didn't do any experimenting beyond some innocent snogging and rolling around my bed with our clothes on, under the watchful eye of Christ our Lord who hung above my bed wearing his 'judgey face'.

By the time I was ready to experiment, I had missed that crucially important time when it was OK to fail. When it was OK not to know what I was doing. When it was OK not to really know where my vagina was.  Instead, I was drowning in a world of sexual maturity and knowledge, and felt too embarrassed to admit that I had no idea what I was supposed to do.  So I put a brave face on, and made men feel bad for expecting that I would have sex with them, instead of just telling the truth.

Now, I am thirty, and finally going through sex education properly. I am educating myself, and my husband and I are experimenting, like a couple of teenagers.  Which is fun.  But ultimately wrong.

I no longer have any affiliation with the Catholic Church. I gave that all up the minute I moved to university, age 18, and started meeting people with different ideas about the world.  But it hurts me that I'm still suffering because of teachings that I no longer even believe in. I am not sure what Catholic schools teach young people nowadays about sex. I hope (and maybe even pray) that they have progressed and developed since my school days, and girls are having the opportunity to learn in a way that sets them up to understand their own bodies. I hope that they are being encouraged to have a positive attitude towards sex and ideally hope that they do not turn out like me.  Unfortunately, though, I think this might not quite be the case.

Email me:
Tweet tweet:   @heyvaginismus

More lube chat...

Hello again ladies and gents.

Over on Twitter, I have been talking about lube with someone who knows their shit about the subject.

Here's an excellent resource to make sure you pick a lube that's safe and not full of nastiness!

Click Here!

If you're a tweeter, you can find me here

Slimy Messy Sticky Fun

The 'inserting vaginal dilator' stage of treatment is not the most glamourous.  Very, very necessary but a mess of blood, sweat, tears and lubricant.

It is always advised to use a good lube when inserting things into an anxious vagina- to make the whole process more slippery and simple.  The more lube, the easier the insertion.  What they don't tell you about lube, is that there is literally millions of brands, styles and flavours (YES FLAVOURS) to choose from.  So how do you know which lube is right for you? How can you tell which one is going to assist you in shoving a giant plastic willy inside yourself on a Sunday afternoon?  

The lube rules are: there are no rules.  But there is experience. And here is mine.  Watch out. This gets messy. (And sticky. And yucky. And in your hair).  

When I first started inserting my now very dear friends the dilators, I had an unopened bottle of lube gathering dust in the bathroom.  I was gifted it one night by a drag queen in a nightclub, after participating in a quiz.  True story.  It was a Durex one, so quite a nice, upmarket variety.  It worked well, and certainly made those first few insertions a little bit more comfortable.

When that ran out, I then found another bottle, stashed away in the bedroom.  It was strawberry scented and flavoured. My husband had bought it for us to play around with it, and it smelled like a sweet shop.  I wasn't sure if this would be sensory overload, when adding it to the mix of dilators and anxiety, but decided to give it a go, as the other stuff had ran out and I couldn't be bothered going to the shops.

This was NOT good.  When using dilators, a high volume of lube is required, to convince your poor vag that no pain is coming.  The strawberry lube was sticky.  Not smooth, and calming and lovely. But sticky. When I use dilators, I like to do something else at the same time to normalise the situation. Usually I read a magazine (sex tips in Cosmo or whatever), or text my friends. The sticky lube made this pretty much the worst thing ever.  Magazine ink was transferred onto my hands, and my phone screen was caked in the stuff, to the point where I had to scrub it with baby wipes (which then stuck to my hands) ARGH. It was all a little like a comedy sketch where someone gets superglue on their hands, except this sketch involved an overpowering strawberry scent and me with a no underwear on.

I think it's fair to say that this particular lube was not built for vaginismus treatment. BIN.

I then graduated on to Boot's own brand of lube jelly (?) which came packaged like a toothpaste tube.  I have to be honest and say the reason for choosing it was that it was £3.99 and, at the rate I am going through lubricants, I need to scale back on costs before I bankrupt myself.  Surprisingly, this stuff was quite good.  Still a goddam freaking mess, but less sticky.  Hooray.  I would recommend this as a good, solid choice.  But don't try to use your iphone with this weird jelly lube on your hands.  SLIMY DISASTER AWAITS YOU.

Finally, in my world tour of vaginal lubes, today I purchased a new bottle of Boots own brand called Silky.  I have to say, I was drawn in by the name- it sounds quite sexy and exotic... right? 

But anyway, I have just used it and it was good, clean and not sticky.  Hooray. I was able to read a book, text someone and check email, all while sitting with a well lubricated dilator inside me.  Nothing bled, nothing hurt.  It was, as the bottle promised, silky.

If you have any favourite lubricant brands, let me know! Hit me up! I like the silk, but I am definitely not 100% ready to commit. 

Also, maybe I need to get out more??
twitter @heyvaginismus 

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Let's Get Physical!

Please don't hate me, but I've always been one of those people who can eat whatever the hell they want, do no exercise and remain a slim, size 10 (US size 6).  If you do hate me a little bit, just remember I have vaginismus.  I deserve some good body vibes.

At high school, I despised gym class, and hid up at the back with my equally unfit friends, gossiping and pretending to have illnesses that prevented us from taking part.  During the 'swimming term', I had my period for 10 weeks, and then severe anemia.  See what I did there?  I'm pretty sure my gym teacher had heard it all before, but the lies worked and instead of exercising, I got to sit in a little room and copy passages from anatomy textbooks. Much more civilised, I think you'll agree.

Anyway, as I got a bit older, I noticed I was starting to make little complaining noises when I got off the couch. It also worried me that I was in my twenties and couldn't touch my toes.  My posture was awful, and I couldn't run for a bus.  Yes, I rocked a pair of skinny jeans, but, dear god, I was unfit.

Having not taken part in any physical activity for over 10 years (with the exception of drunk dancing in sweaty nightclubs), I was very intimidated at the idea of starting. The gym was out of the question, and going out running in the street was way too deadly embarrassing.  In the end, I convinced a friend to sign up for a beginners yoga course.  Start small, I thought. Build up some strength and flexibility, and maybe even touch my toes.  That's a start, right?  The first yoga class was nowhere near as awful as expected.  I was surprised to find I actually quite liked it.  My friend gave up after a couple of weeks, but I was hooked, and so began my (now very deep) love for yoga.

Since taking up yoga, I have noticed amazing changes in my body.  I am stronger.  I am more flexible. I sit up straight ALL THE TIME.  And yes I can touch my toes.  I was so impressed with my own body, and amazed at how quickly it adapted and changed, that this has now spurred me on to join a gym.  I have only just joined, but have had the confidence to go into scary exercise classes on my own, lift weights, run in front of people... and, again, I have been amazed how quickly things progress.  My arms can lift things that I never believed they could.  My legs can run for longer and longer periods of time, with each gym visit.  My core can just about hold it's shit together and keep me in plank for more than 10 seconds. Every time I exercise, I see a difference.

Now what, in the name of Jane Fonda, does this have to do with vaginismus, I hear you ask? Well, if you haven't already sussed this, vaginismus treatment (specifically dilators) are EXACTLY THE SAME as exercising.

Before I ever attempted to insert one, I was terrified, embarrassed and ashamed with my body's lack of flexibility.  Just like before I went to my first yoga class.  However, after trying it and seeing it isn't that bad, I persevered and, of course, it got easier.

And, just like with yoga and the gym, I have been amazed yet again by my body.  My vagina, which previously went into meltdown if I so much as thought about putting my finger near it, can now relax enough to accommodate three sizes of dilators (D0-D2) and about 1/3 of D3. (Yep.  That happened today! Woop woop!)

I now realise that, back in the younger days, when I abused my body with bad food, too much booze and no exercise, it was never going to able to work in sync with my brain and overcome vaginismus. Since I started treating my body a bit better, it's started being a bit better to me too.  It's working with my brain now, and suddenly we're seeing results.  Long may it continue to amaze me!

tweet tweet tweeeeet @heyvaginismus

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Lets Hear It For The Boy

Now, I am not ever claiming to be an expert on treating vaginismus, and all of the experiences in this blog are personal to me. Every woman is different.  BUT, there are a few key things that I would guess are vital to every woman's success in overcoming vaginismus.

Bravery.  Acceptance.  Strength.  Determination.  Motivation.

Reads a little bit like an advert for the gym, but it's that 'never give up' attitude that will pull you through.

The other thing, that I feel is crucial in all of this, is a supportive partner.  Not every woman with vaginismus is in a relationship of course, but if you are, you're going to need your other half to be with you all the way.  Encouraging you, but never pushing you.  Cheering on your successes, but helping you to move on from the difficult bits.  Really excited about having sex with you, but not putting any pressure on your to hurry up and get your shit together.  I am very lucky to have a husband like this, and thought it would be nice to dedicate a post to him, and our vaginismus journey!

My husband and I met nine years ago, when I was 21, and he was 24.  It was the usual story- met through work, friends for a little while, drunken snog in a nightclub, lots of texting and MSN messages, more drunken snogging, then eventually fully confirmed boyfriend and girlfriend, who hold hands in the street and have arguments about what to have for dinner.

I decided to tell him about vaginismus fairly quickly.  When we met, I was just about to start my first round of psychosexual therapy, and innocently thought the problem would all be over in a few weeks. So might as well tell my new boyfriend that this is happening but it's OK. I'm fixing it.  Even so, I was still nervous, and not really sure what his response would be.

I can't remember the exact words that I used, but I think it was all very matter of fact. I told him he could think about it, and let me know whether he still wanted us to be together.  The conversation was left hanging, and I went home. By the time I had got back to my flat, I had a text message from him, saying it was fine.

Unfortunately, my first attempt at psychosexual therapy wasn't very successful.  I was in the honeymoon phase of a new relationship, and our sex life was great (sans penetration of course). Vaginismus treatment is highly un-sexy, and I felt spending so much time talking about what was wrong with me, and attempting to use dilators, was actually spoiling all the fun I was having with my new boyfriend.  Eventually, it all fizzled out, but I promised my boyfriend that I would try therapy again, when I was in a better place to deal with it all.

Not long after this, my boyfriend and I moved in together, and our relationship continued to grow and develop.  We loved one another, and saw a future together.  Unfortunately, though, vaginismus was always hanging over our heads, and we became very good at just avoiding talking or thinking about it.  We discussed it now and again, usually if wine was involved, but the conversations were sad and stressful, and usually ended with one or both of us in tears.  So we stopped talking about it.  And along with that, stopped having any kind of sex.

When we decided to get married, I realised that I had to face up to this properly and really work hard to get better. My husband has his part to play in this too, but there were so many issues that were just mine.  So, in the year I got married and turned thirty, I started seeing my current therapist.  I started off completely focussing on my own goals, like being able to look at and touch myself.  But now, some way into treatment, my husband is starting to take a bigger role, and we're trying to get our sex life back on track. Penetrative sex isn't on our radar yet, but relaxing and having fun with one another is the name of the game.  Because sex is fun.  Or, at least, it should be.  And it was.  In our darkest moments, we always stop and remind ourselves how incredible our sex life was when we first got together, when we didn't give vaginismus a second thought. If we could do it then, we can do it now.

With vaginismus, it's very easy to forget about the other person in the relationship.  The woman who is suffering goes through all the physical pain, but my husband has gone through a whole load of emotional pain that I will never be able to fully understand.  The fact that he hasn't given up amazes me, reassures me and motivates me to keep on going.

Because I'm doing it for both of us.

We're doing it for both of us.

What. A. Guy. x
tweet @heyvaginismus

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Epic Fail

And that, my friends, is why I'm blogging.

The Vaginismus Dance- one step forward, two steps back, take a deep breath, move on

So to counter my last post, which was brimming with joy and positivity (and maybe even smugness), I thought it was important to reflect on the fact that vaginismus treatment isn't all plain sailing.  There's a real element of one step forward, and two steps back.

As avid readers of the blog (or fellow sufferers) will know, vaginismus treatment consists of a variety of steps, that aim to get you familiar with your vagina, and comfortable with inserting things in to it. The end goal is a penis, of course.

I am thirty years old, and the first time I ever inserted anything into my vagina was 3 weeks ago. It was the smallest dilator in my kit (D0) and it was the strangest feeling ever.  A mix of disbelief, excitement, mild discomfort and pride.  It happened in the bath, and I sat with it in me for a few moments, before yelling for my husband to come and look.  He ran into the bathroom and we just stared at it for a while. It was inside. WOWZER.

I progressed quickly to the next dilator, managing to insert it the following day.  However,  this was not easy, and caused burning and stinging.  I persevered though, determined to get it in, and wincing through the pain, I managed to push it right in.  It felt like I had stuffed an arm up there- it was agony, uncomfortable and did not feel natural.  Reluctantly I pulled it out, and saw the white plastic of the dilator was covered in bright red blood.  Panic set in, and I ran to the bathroom to try and work out what the hell I had done to myself.  Even after establishing it was probably just my 30 year old hymen breaking, I still couldn't celebrate the fact that I had got D1 in.  The blood, and the pain, were too much, and sad reminders of how far I had to go.

I stuck at it though, and eventually D1 became painless and easy.  It glided in effortlessly, and I could sit with it my vagina in while answering emails, making phone calls and watching tv.

Time to move on up.

D2 was a different beast altogether.  The first time I tried to insert it, it hurt so much I could only get the tip in.  Having learned my lesson about pushing through pain, I stopped and gave up for the day. Each time I tried D2, I noticed tiny bits of progress.  I got it halfway.  Then 3/4 of the way.  I was pleased, but also frustrated. Why wouldn't it just go in? My brain so badly wanted it to, but my vagina and PC muscles just wouldn't comply.

3 days ago, I finally conquered it.  It went all the way in. But much like my experience with the first time I fully inserted D1, the pain and feeling of being burned and stabbed was unbearable.  Knowing what was coming next, I reluctantly pulled it out and, of course, it was covered in blood.  I traipsed to the bathroom, cleaned myself up and wore a sanitary towel for a couple of hours.  By the time I left the house, later that evening, the bleeding had stopped and there was no trace of what had happened.

But the memory is still in my brain, and I haven't touched the dilators since.  I'm psyching myself up to get back into it, because I don't want to give my brain time to feel the fear and let all the old anxiety about inserting worm it's way back into my mind.

I just need to keep telling myself, that this happened with D1. But now it's fine.  It's now happened with D2, but it will be fine after a few more tries.  It will almost definitely happen with D3 and D4 but this just seems to be part of my process.

Still a long way to go. Still more pain ahead.

One step forward, two steps back.

But eventually I'll make it.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

I'll Be There For You

So it's been a pretty crazy couple of days over at the Hey Vaginismus! HQ (my living room).  Since I started writing this blog, only 3 weeks ago, I have been wondering if there was any point.  It was getting a handful of views every day, but nothing was happening to make me feel that it was worthwhile.  I'm quite an impatient person, always thinking about the end goal (see Project Vag)

Anyway, on Sunday, after a couple of nice retweets over on twitter, I suddenly started noticing a massive jump in the number of people looking at the blog.  People from all over the world, in fact.  This carried on into Monday, where more retweets led to hundreds more views, emails, messages, tweets, comments... It was exciting and overwhelming to hear from so many women who had experienced or are still experiencing vaginismus.  There's loads of us out there!  I also received email from a sexual health professional who said she would refer her patients to the blog.  WOW!  So it was a good day.

What wasn't so good is that I was working from home yesterday, and spent about 3 minutes on my actual job, and a solid 8 hours on Hey Vaginismus!  But it felt worth it, and a priviledge to know that people were interested in and helped by what I had to say.

Anyway, about 5pm I put the laptop down, and went out to meet an old friend from university who I haven't seen in years.  We admitted, after a few wines, that we had been a bit nervous about meeting up in case we had nothing to talk about after not seeing one another in such a long time, but there was an immediate click and we chatted non-stop for hours.  My friend and I discovered that we are both currently spending about half of our week working from home.  We chatted about all the many distractions that come with this- dirty dishes, washing needing hung up, daytime TV...  By this point, with about a gallon of rose wine in me, I decided to tell her about this blog.  Which meant, of course, telling her I have vaginismus.

Her reaction was incredible. She didn't bat an eyelid. She had heard of the condition, and wasn't remotely phased or shocked (or if she was, she didn't show it!).  We talked about it briefly, then moved on to another topic of conversation.  And that was it.  It was easy.  There was none of the shock, sympathy, hand holding, tears and questions that I had imagined, whenever I pictured telling someone.  It was all very normal. And why shouldn't it be? Vaginismus is normal. It's not a big dirty secret, and it's nothing to be ashamed of.

On the train home, I text my friend, to say how much fun it was to catch up.  She replied, thanking me for telling her about vaginismus.  She thanked me.  Not the other way round.  (Well, obviously I then thanked her... but you get my point, yah?)

By the time I got home, and checked Hey Vaginismus! and saw even more views, comments and messages, I was completely buzzing.  Maybe this doesn't need to be such a big, sad scary deal.  My husband has now read the blog, and is a part of the Hey Vag gang.  I am confident that the word can get out that this condition exists, it's normal, it's nothing to be embarrassed about, and ideally find a way to help women link up, chat and support one another in person.  This wont happen overnight, of course.  I have learned a lesson about rushing ahead and moving too fast, but it's still nice to dream big.

Oh and in other news, I fully inserted D2 yesterday for the first time.  BOOM!

Hello friends!  Tweet tweet @heyvaginismus

Monday, 26 October 2015

Phoebe or Phoebo?

Ever since I first heard the word, I have identified as a feminist.

I recently got married, after 'living in sin' with my partner for nearly nine years.  The Catholic side of my family were clearly uncomfortable with our living situation, and my elderly grandmother used to to refer to my partner as my 'husband' before we were married.  When I corrected her, she would scowl and say 'Yes, yes, I know. You're not married.'  And we would laugh, because we didn't care, and to us, love was love, wedding ring or not. 
But as we grew older, and were still very happy together, we started to feel the pull towards marriage.  I felt calling him my 'boyfriend' cheapened how long lasting and serious our relationship was, but could never get comfortable with the word 'partner'.  I wanted him to be my husband. So we decided to get married.

Planning a wedding, whilst also trying to maintain high standards of feminist living, is extremely difficult.  The whole institution of marriage is cringingly sexist, and weddings themselves are chock full of 'traditions' that allow a man to publicly make a woman his possession.  I wrestled with it all, and had many wine fuelled chats with my fellow feminist besties, and in the end I cut out all the crap.

We didn't get engaged, and I didn't wear a big diamond on my finger to show that I was 'taken'.  My husband did not ask my dad's permission to marry me.  My dad did not walk me down the aisle and give me away.  There were no male dominated, embarrassing speeches. I did not take my husband's name. And, hilariously, I did not wear a white dress.  Even though I genuinely did go into my wedding as a virgin.  So far, so feminist.

So imagine my horror at an early therapy appointment, aimed at 'getting to know my vagina', when the following exchange happened.

THERAPIST:  It sometimes helps to give your vagina a name.
ME:  Oh... OK (thinks about it for a minute)
THERAPIST:  What's the matter? Does that seem difficult?
ME:  No, I'm just wondering what to call it.  I'm just thinking about whether it's a man or a woman.


As soon as it came out my mouth, I started back tracking.  Assuring my therapist that I didn't really mean that. Of course it's not a man!  I am a feminist!  HONEST!

My therapist wasn't phased, but did think it was an interesting question.  And I suppose it is.

What I take from it now, is that it was an indicator of how detached I was from my own vagina.  It felt so alien to me, and so unlike a part of my own female body, that I actually asked this bizarre, appalling question.  

Thankfully I now have a much better relationship with my vagina.  I still haven't given her a name though... any suggestions?

Name my vagina, win a prize!* or  tweet @heyvaginismus

*You probably wont get a prize. Soz.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Plenty Of Fish

I had an interesting therapy session a few days ago, which started with my therapist telling me that I had really made her think about something.  This is unusual, as it's normally her asking me to think about stuff that I don't really want to confront, and then talking at length about what is going on in my brain.  Not the other way round!

Anyway... I had mentioned to her that I would really, really like to meet another woman with vaginismus.  To have the opportunity to sit down and have a real life, face to face conversation with a woman who is going through the same, bizarre shit that I am, would really make things a bit simpler. It's a well known fact that a problem shared is a problem halved.  But this particular problem is a bit... well... niche.  I am not convinced that sharing it with one of sexually active friends, who think I lost my virginity a million years ago, is really going to give me what I'm looking for.  They'd be supportive, sure.  But they would ask question after question, and probably still come away from the conversation totally baffled.  The problem needs to be shared with someone who also has the problem. Or used to have the problem and has now beat it.  Whatever.  But that is what I am looking for. Someone who knows how the shame and embarrassment feels.  Someone who has gone through the highs and lows of dilators.  Someone who understands the sadness of not being able to have sex with your partner.  And also someone who can knowingly laugh  with me about it.  Because sometimes it's funny.  That part is super important too.

So my therapist had been thinking this over, and has now started canvassing all the many women she treats who have vaginismus.  Apparently there are loads of them. Plenty of fish in the sea, and all that. Sadly she wont give me their phone numbers.

She has been asking if they would be interested in group therapy.  She said, as far as she is aware, group therapy has never been used as a method to treat vaginismus.  It's all 1-1, or couples therapy.  But there's never an opportunity for women with the same condition to meet up, hang out and support each other.  She believes this is because of the shame and embarrassment that we all know so well (as well as other important ethical considerations, such as women going through the treatment programme at different rates).  But ultimately, she is interested, and looking into the possibility of trying this out.  I asked her what the response had been and she told me that nobody had said no.

I am desperately keen to talk to someone else with vaginismus.  Not via an internet forum, twitter or a email. But in person.  Two women together, sitting having a coffee or a cocktail, not even necessarily spending the entire time talking about vaginismus.  But just being safe in the knowledge that this person ACTUALLY KNOWS HOW IT FEELS.  They're going through it too, and they get it, and it's rubbish but they're here and it's going to be fine...

Doesn't seem too much to ask, does it?  If I had any other condition, there would be a group for me.  But not with this one.  Let's change that please!

ARE YOU WITH ME? Follow me on twitter @heyvaginismus or email me

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Celebrating Success

The thing about vaginismus, is that it's really easy to focus on the negatives. The stuff you still have ahead of you. The things you haven't been able to do yet.  The fear never really goes away. Even when things are going REALLY WELL.

So in this post, I thought I'd take a moment to celebrate my successes.  Hope you don't mind. It's not a very British thing to do, to talk about things that you have done that are actually good. But I'm going to. So here it is.
  1. I can look at my vagina without being a bit sick in my own mouth
  2. I can touch my vagina without similar sick situation
  3. I've gotten to know my vagina. I feel ownership over it, and, hey! I actually quite like it! 
  4. I haven't skipped any therapy appointments.  Even when I've been tired, busy, under the weather or just plain lazy- I have walked through the doors of my therapists office and talked.
  5. I have been using my dilators on a regular basis. 
  6. I've conquered D0, D1 and about 3/4 of D2
  7. I am not beating myself up that I haven't done all of D2 yet. It'll happen when my vagina is ready for it
  8. I haven't taken D3 out of it's little bag. I am not rushing ahead
  9. My husband inserted his finger into my vagina. LIKE ACTUAL OMG
  10. My husband and I are spending more time together... naked. 
  11. We're laughing about it. We make hilarious vaginismus jokes that nobody else would understand. Because this is our thing. We don't want it to be our thing, but it is, so we might as well laugh about it
  12. I've accepted it. I have vaginismus. Not ideal. But the only person who can sort it is me. So I will

12 Things. That's 12 things I couldn't/ wouldn't do two months ago.

I have made 12 steps forward in two months.

When you think about it like that... it's doesn't seem quite so bad.

If you're reading this, and you're going through what I'm going through, make that list! And tell me about it! 
email          or              tweeeeeeet   @heyvaginismus

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Project Vag

After years and years of avoidance, I have now gone in the complete opposite direction.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am totally addicted to dilators.

Since I first successfully inserted dilator 0 (D0) two weeks ago, and felt that initial buzz of disbelief, excitement and total and utter joyful shock, I just can't get enough.  The minute I get home from work I put the oven on and dilate. If I have a morning off, I watch daytime TV and dilate. In the evening, after a busy day, I have a nice bubble bath and, you guessed it, dilate.
 I have now mastered the art of D0, am comfortable with D1, and have started to attempt to conquer D2.  I can insert about half of it, before the burning vaginismus pain shows its ugly face. But all of this in two weeks? Success!

I am a very goal oriented person, and get a real kick from making 'to do lists' and subsequently ticking things off the list.  I am a highly organised, effective project coordinator, with enthusiasm and motivation by the bucketload.  I am the IDEAL CANDIDATE to handle the mammoth job of overcoming vaginismus, as quickly as humanly possible.

At my last therapy session, I gleefully told my therapist about my success with the dilators. I told her that I was super excited for my next period so that I could start using tampons. And I was also making space in my busy schedule of dilating every minute of the day to go for a smear test.



However, to my surprise, my therapist didn't share my manic levels of enthusiasm.  She suggested that I slow down. Take my time. Celebrate small steps, but stop rushing ahead.  And remember to include my husband. I have been so wrapped up in my 'targets', I haven't been including him in any of the treatment.

In short, stop treating my vaginismus therapy as a project.

And so, it still surprises me a little, that I am trying to dilate less.  I am sticking to my faithful sanitary towels, and staying away from the smear test for now.  I am not rushing through the different sized dilators at record speed. I am taking the time to celebrate the little successes and taking the time to just breathe.
And watch the change in my mind and body as it takes place. And enjoy it.

Goodbye Project Vag.  Hello calm!  It'll happen when it happens, and that's OK.


Since turning 30, I have witnessed an explosion of friends, family members and colleagues announcing that they are having a baby.  I know that women all over the world have been doing this for a very long time, but it's only since moving into the new age bracket that it really seems to be on my radar. And it's EVERYWHERE. And nobody is panicking.  Because women my age can, should and will have babies, and this is totally normal... and most of them make it look very easy.

Until you add vaginismus to the mix, and then it is definitely NOT easy.

For many women with vaginismus, the desire to have a baby is the kick up the vag that we need to deal with our problem.  Before that, it's much easier to hide dilators in the cupboard and be the amazing queen of the blow jobs.  But sadly, science has yet to advance enough that you can become pregnant by oral sex, and eventually the demon must be confronted.  This was definitely a factor for me in finally getting a move on and going back to therapy.  Although I am not keen for a baby at this exact point in my life, I definitely want to know that when the time is right, it will at least be possible...
I feel like babies, maternity pay, child birth and nursery decor is a firm topic of conversation now in my peer group's repetoire. Even with friends who dont want babies right now, we still sit and talk about the fear of 'leaving it too late' and 'the ideal time to get pregnant'.  With every friend who announces their pregnancy, a little bit more of my vaginismus riddled brain turns to fear.  EVERYONE is doing it. What if I can never do it? And there's not even a medical reason for my impending childless future. It's pure, psychological nonsense.  When I see yet another baby scan picture on Facebook, my immediate gut feeling is that of annoyance. How DARE they be so insensitive. Of course, I need to take a deep breath and move on from this feeling very quickly.  I am pretty sure nobody is doing this on purpose to hurt my feelings.  How could they? Nobody knows about my vaginismus... And also nobody is that cruel.  

I also have friends who are going through the awful pain of infertility, and having problems conceiving.  I sometimes tell myself that I am in the same boat as them, and know how they feel, but of course this is not the case, and I have to be quite stern with myself when I have these thoughts.  These friends have very little control over what is happening to them, which is scary, sad and frustrating.  With vaginismus, I actually have a huge amount of power over the problem- I just need to be brave enough to face it head on and take control. It's still scary, sad and frustrating, but there is no reason to feel hopeless.  

So in the meantime, I will continue to be a support to my pregnant friends, and a brilliant aunt to all my new, tiny friends.  And I will use how happy they make me feel as inspiration and motivation to overcome the big V.  

Know what I mean? Talk to me! 

Friday, 9 October 2015

The Blessed Virgin

Having been brought up a practicing Catholic, the word virgin has always been on my radar.  I didn't always know exactly what it meant but given that Jesus' mum was one, I knew it was a good thing.

I remember a conversation with my equally strict-Catholic cousins, when I was around 13, about whether we would wait till marriage to have sex. We all agreed that yes, we definitely would. After all, virginity meant purity and justifiably wearing a white gown to your wedding. No brainer.

Fast forward to the late teenage years and suddenly the question of who is, and is not, a virgin at high school is one of the most  interesting lunch time discussion topics.  As one by one, my friends started to lose their virginity, I wondered if, perhaps, it wasnt really all it was cracked up to be. I mean, they didn't suddenly become bad people because they were now having sex.  In fact, they were pretty much the same, except they had much funnier stories to tell at sleepovers.

I started university a virgin (this fact should not surprise you, given that you know how this story turns out).  I was pleased to find that quite a few of the girls that lived in my student flat were also still to 'do it'.  However, within a few months of wild, drunken university life, all my virginal flatmates because streetwise sexperts.  They were having threesomes and shagging people in bus shelters and nightclub toilets. Meanwhile, I sat back and took it all in.  At this point, I was completely losing interest in religion, and starting to think that perhaps it was time to become one of the crowd.

Clearly this didn't happen- otherwise this blog wouldn't exist.

I am currently using vaginal dilators to help 'train' my naughty vagina into accepting penetration.  I am now confident and casual with Dilator 0 (the one thats roughly the size of a finger), so have moved on to D1, which is bigger, fatter and scarier.  I was thrilled when I was able to fully insert it a couple of days ago, but my joy was short lived when I pulled it out and it was covered in blood.  My immediate thought was that I had caused myself some kind of internal damage, closely followed by cancer.  Melodramatic perhaps, but as with anything new, the unexpected can strike real fear.

I spoke to my therapist about this last night and she looked pleased and said 'Oh that will just be your hymen'.  The wee lightbulb in my head came on and the anxiety melted.  OF COURSE. That key symbol of virginity had been broken, albeit by a big white, penis shaped piece of plastic but still!  I was a woman!  Hymen= broken= WOMAN. Right?

It might seem silly but all of these little triumphs help me to see a light at the end of the vaginismus tunnel.  It's still just a little speck of light in the distance, but it's definitely there.

KNOW WHAT I MEAN?? EMAIL ME:  TWEET ME: @heyvaginismus

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

THE GREAT THERAPY BALANCING ACT starring me, the husband and the therapists

I have been seeing therapists on and off for nearly ten years, in an attempt to cure the dreaded vaginismus.

I have been very lucky in the past to have been offered two separate rounds of therapy on the NHS.  The first therapist I saw, while I was still a student, was the person who introduced me to the word 'vaginismus'.  I had gone to see her as I was having issues with my then boyfriend touching my genitals. I was starting to feel uncomfortable about it and avoid sex, so I decided to mention this to my GP. The GP didn't seem to know what was wrong but suggested a sex therapist would help.  As anyone with any weird condition will testify, being diagnosed and finding out it's not just you, is a massive relief but in the case of vaginismus, also terrifying.  A quick google search brings up stories of pain, dilators and crushing frustration.  I wasn't quite ready to accept that this was really happening to me.  I avoided the tasks set by my therapist (which I sarcastically referred to as 'homework').  I skipped appointments, telling myself I was too busy to deal with this right now.  And gradually it slipped under the radar, and I gave up.

Years later, and in a very serious relationship with the man who is now my husband, I decided to give self-treatment a go.  I found a site that sells a treatment programme, complete with different dilators that are inserted into the vagina to help you grow accustomed to having things inside you.  I bought the kit, full of enthusiasm, but when it arrived the dilators looked a bit... big. Impossible actually.

 Cue more avoidance and the dilators finding a new home in the back of the wardrobe, along with the hand mirror.

I did manage to get another therapist on the NHS, but fell into the same trap of prioritising everything else in my life over appointments, and eventually giving up because the therapist suggested I go for a vaginal exam. That was NOT going to happen.  Hello avoidance, my old chum.

Now, I have started with my third therapist.  This time I decided to go private, and pay for sessions, in a hope that handing over my own money would make me stick with it.

However, it feels completely different this time.  I actually look forward to sessions, and am more open and honest with my therapist than I have ever been.  I have been religiously using my dilators on a daily basis, and have conquered the smallest size. It's only the length and width of a finger, but this is the equivalent of a normal vagina accommodating a cucumber.  MASSIVE!

The fine balancing act now comes with trying to maintain some intimacy with my husband and not becoming self absorbed.  Yes, vaginismus is MY problem, and my issue to overcome, but it's a team effort and I can't fall into a trap of being the only person allowed anywhere near my vagina.  This is something I am finding hard at the moment, but with the help of therapy and hard work I will overcome.

If I managed to get a metaphorical cucumber up there, I can do ANYTHING, right?


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Secrets and Lies

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have kept vaginismus a secret from almost everyone that I know. The only people that know are my husband and my therapist.

At a recent therapy session, my therapist asked me why I hadn't told anyone.  To me the answer is obvious- it's deadly embarrassing and shameful and I'd rather die than discuss it over a glass of Sauvignon Blanc on  Friday night.  My therapist asked me what I thought my friends would say. I said they would be shocked, but ultimately very supportive.  But to be honest, they would probably be more shocked that I have kept it a secret from them, than shocked by the actual vaginismus itself.

I have an incredible team of lady-friends, most of whom I have known and loved for over 10 years. We have seen each other through break ups, pregnancy scares (obviously not mine!), many a career crisis, parent problems, engagements, marriages and babies... We are all fully functioning grown ups, with careers, relationships, houses and responsibilities, but when we get together with a bottle of wine and a 90s dance music playlist on Spotify, we revert to giggling, shrieking, gossiping girls, who tell each other EVERYTHING.

Except, we don't.

They don't know that, but there is a huge part of my life that I have kept hidden.  I have never explicitly lied to them about having sex- it's more lying by omission.  When we discuss contraception, I nod along and even manage to contribute, having been on the pill for years due to heavy periods.  When we discuss sex, I laugh along and make suggestive, yet mysterious comments, hinting at a very exciting, yet private, sex life, but never ACTUALLY saying that I have had sex. It's very clever really.  When we howl with laughter, discussing the moment we lost our virginity, I excuse myself and go to the bar/ the toilet/ outside for air... It's quite difficult to get around that one without a blatant lie.

What is sad is that I know if any of my friends came to me and told me they had this condition, I would be heartbroken for them, but would give them nothing but support and care.  I wouldn't be disgusted or amused or embarrassed for them. And I know that they would do the same for me.

So why haven't I told them?

Maybe I should.

Bring on the wine and emotional chats...

tweet tweet @heyvaginismus

Monday, 5 October 2015

Here Comes The Science Bit

The above image is just a wee visual in case you're still unsure what vaginismus actually is.

If someone goes to poke you in the eye, without even thinking, you close your eye and get the hell away from their finger.  It's a reflex based on the fear of pain.

I hope you can see through this very clever comparison that I have laid out for you in a very scientific way.

**Just in case it's not clear:
 The eye is a vagina. The finger is a penis, a tampon, a smear test, a mars bar... or, indeed, a finger. But you got that**

This Is Your (Vaginismus) Life

I think it would make sense to write my first proper post on the history of the whole thing, and how I came to be a 30 year old virgin with a very nervous vagina.

To cut a LOOOOOONG story short... I have no idea.

Many women develop vaginismus after an incident of sexual abuse, or a particularly traumatic child birth experience.  This is called 'secondary vaginismus', meaning the woman was once able to have normal, lovely sex, but something changed and vaginismus set in. They generally know the reason (though we cant assume that they always do, of course).

I have 'primary vaginismus' which means I have never been able to have normal, lovely sex. Again, some women will know the cause of this but I am one of those that literally has no idea why this has happened. I can piece things together from the past that might have contributed to negative feelings and fear around sex, but there is not one big defining moment that I can pinpoint and say THATS WHAT CAUSED IT!

According to my therapist, women who have had strict religious upbringings, and anxious mothers, are more likely to develop vaginismus. I can tick both of these boxes, for sure. But my sister, who was brought up exactly the same way as me, doesn't have vaginismus and lost her virginity as a teenager, so this doesn't really give me definitive proof.

I tried using a tampon when I was 14, like everyone else.  It wouldn't go in, but I wasn't COMPLETELY sure that I was putting it in the right place. Nobody ever really tells you where your vagina actually is, especially when you go to a Catholic school.  As recommended by 'Shout magazine', every 1990's teenage girl's life-bible, I had a look at my genitals using a hand mirror. I remember recoiling in disgust- this did NOT look like what I was expecting to see.  Given that my only frame of reference was the smooth and sleek vulva of Barbie, perhaps it was normal to feel confused. What IS all of this? And where is the hole? Isn't that the most important bit? If it's so bloody important why cant I SEE it? My shock and disgust at my own genitals led to me putting the hand mirror in the back of the wardrobe and denying that there was anything there.  This meant no more tampon attempts, and DEFINITELY no more looking. And don't even get me starting on touching the damn thing! YEUCH!

When I started to have boyfriends, I never allowed them to attempt penetration. I just KNEW that it wouldn't work and I didn't want to risk the pain and embarrassment of them finding out that I had a defective vagina. Or possibly NO vagina. This was still a notion that floated round my head from time to time. Maybe I just didn't have one. And thats why the tampon wouldn't go in. Because there was nothing there...

Boyfriends were surprisingly supportive, and I made a habit of picking good ones, who didn't put pressure on me and were quite happy with lots of oral sex, instead of penetration. In some ways, a vaginismus-suffering girlfriend is a dream come true, because blow jobs are always on the cards.

I made it through my teenage years and early twenties coasting on complete avoidance with a pinch of denial.  In some ways, I think I just assumed that everything would eventually sort itself out, and I would just wake up one day with the fear removed and a very accommodating vagina.

Clearly this did not happen, and eventually therapy became the next logical step. More on that to come... Please try to contain yourselves!

Ringing any bells? Say hello:

Vagi- WHAT?!



That's right.

I am a (very young looking... ahem...)  thirty year old woman, living with the condition vaginismus and feeling a bit annoyed about the whole thing.

Vaginismus is a seldom discussed, but actually very common, condition affecting woman. describes it, in a very small nutshell, as

What is Vaginismus?

Vaginismus is vaginal tightness causing discomfort, burning, pain, penetration problems, or complete inability to have

While this is definitely true, there are plenty other rubbish things that go hand in hand with this condition that I will go into great and gory detail about throughout this blog.  In short, a phobia of ones own vagina; inability to actually touch or look at your own genitals because it makes you feel like throwing up; gripping fear that you'll never be able to have children; feeling like your depriving your partner of a proper, normal sex life; not being able to go swimming on your period; lying to your friends about your epic shag-fest lifestyle... to name but a few...

Meanwhile, while all of these things are  happening you know it's crazy.  Half the population have vaginas, and things are supposed to go in there! What the hell is wrong with you?!

It is worth pointing out here that vaginismus is a psychological condition. Not physical. There's nothing ACTUALLY wrong with the shape, size etc of my vag.  It's all in the brain. Brilliant.

Dont worry though! This is not going to be one of those ranty, feel sorry for me and tell me it's going to be OK, sort of blogs.

I have two main aims:

1. Raise awareness and get people TALKING ABOUT this condition that has blighted my entire adult life.  I am pretty sure most people don't even know it exists and those that do know about it (because they have it) are too embarrassed to say so.

2. Actually sit down face to face with another woman who has vaginismus, and have a coffee (or something stronger) and TALK ABOUT IT. Apparently this condition is common... where are all the women?!

I have been annoyed of late, as I have been trying very hard to overcome this condition through a range of delightful exercises, all aimed at me getting to know and love my vagina. These exercises are emotionally draining, uncomfortable and sometimes hilarious.  If I had any other condition that commonly affects women, I would easily be able to find support groups, and other real live women to talk to, share stories with and support one another.  Vaginismus is a very lonely condition. You know there are others out there, but you feel like you're the only one.  Even on the very few online forums I've found, women use false names for fear of being found out.

Now the massive irony here is that I am hoping to raise awareness, and break down the stigma, but I am also currently using a false name and hiding my identity, for fear of being found out.  At this stage, I'm not ready to be 'outed' (in fact, the only people that know I have vaginismus are my husband and my therapist, so dont feel offended. My mum doesnt even know.)

But hopefully over the weeks, months etc, as I continue to progress with treatment, this will change and I'll be able to be OPEN (vaginally and otherwise...!)

If you read this, and you want to chat: