Health Magazine

An Excuse a Day Keeps the Doctor Away...

By Painfreesex @painfreesex
I'm writing this post because it took me twelve years to go and see a bloody doctor about my vaginismus. I can't say that the problem wasn't that noticeable because it was, or that I didn't care because I did. I was just too embarrassed. 

A few years ago I made a feeble attempt to address the issue with my GP over the phone and it was awkward. Strangely, more for him than for me. There were lots of ums and pauses after I explained that I was on the pill AND that my vagina was giving me trouble. He had no idea what to do with this information and made me an appointment to see a female colleague with whom I would be 'more comfortable'. I thought about it for a bit and decided against going to see this mystery colleague. Mission aborted. 

The first ever gynaecological exam can be scary when your vagina is 'normal', but when you're in pain why would you make it worse by consenting to a stranger clamping you open and poking about?! It's terrifying!     Fast forward to the present day and I'm ecstatic to report that I've had a trauma-free gynaecological exam! I was referred to the doctor after getting in touch with an NHS psychosexual clinic (more on this later) and I couldn't have asked for a better specialist. Things that made me feel comfortable
A chaperone- this might be stating the obvious, but when the examination is with a male doctor a chaperone is always present. This is usually a nurse, but bringing a partner, friend, or family member in addition always helps steady the nerves. My chaperone was lovely, she reminded me to keep breathing, told me I could hold her hand and was a calming presence throughout. Communication- It's not about gritting your teeth and seeing how much you can bear (and don't be tempted to do that either). I was asked whether I was in pain every couple of minutes and when I was I described the type of pain and the intensity. Had I been too distressed, we would have called it a day and that would have been perfectly fine. An excuse a day keeps the doctor away...Sensitivity- Another obvious one, but it helped that both the doctor and chaperone were incredibly kind and respectful. Questions about vaginal pain and sexual history were asked sensitively and I felt listened to without preconceived notions. Information- Before, during and after I wanted to know everything. And that's the way it should be. Before I was told that both an internal and external exam confirm vaginismus together, but they also rule out many conditions that cause vaginal pain and aren't vaginismus. The doctor also explained that a virgin speculum would be used (until then, I had no idea they even existed), how a smear test would be taken and how long the whole process would take (incidentally, not that long at all). During, I wanted to be kept updated on what was going on to avoid jumping out of my skin in case it did hurt and after I wanted to know what the doctor found. It turned out that I really did have vaginismus and not something else like a permanently broken vagina or an overly active imagination! The Aftermath...I walked out elated, victorious and hugely relieved. I felt like I had conquered a demon and wanted to tell anyone who would listen. Whilst desisting from shouting it from the rooftops, I phoned my boyfriend instead and gave him a detailed account. I realised that not knowing exactly what was wrong had cast a shadow not just in my head, but also on my relationship. What I'm trying to say is I know it's embarrassing and scary. But find a medical professional you trust (not necessarily a GP) and blurt it out. It will bring peace of mind and act as a stepping stone on the long road to recovery... 

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