My story ends with a happy marriage, the birth of a beautiful baby, and no more vulvar pain! I believe that you can find a happy ending too.
My dream was to find love and be a mother, but for many years that dream was unreachable. As a teenager, I couldn’t even insert a tampon. I didn’t understand how other girls could do it and that made me self-conscious. Finally, when I was 19 years old, I told an ob-gyn about my problem. She discovered I had a vaginal septum, a thin wall of skin vertically separating the inside of my vagina down the middle. I needed surgery to remove the septum.
The surgery was successful and I was instructed to use a huge dilator for 5 to 10 minutes every day to ensure that the sutured walls of the vagina healed properly. It was extremely painful. I had never been able to use a tampon, let alone a huge dilator. And, although there was no more septum, the inside of my vagina was very sore from surgery.
A couple of years later, I fell in love. I didn’t consummate the relationship when we were dating. I told him it was a moral choice to wait until I found my life-partner. After he “put a ring on it” I tried to consummate the relationship, but it was so painful! I often had to ask him to stop because I would feel severe burning, or a sharp, stabbing pain.
The first ob-gyn I saw about this condition told me to use more lubricant and said I shouldn’t feel pressured to have sex if I wasn’t in the mood. I knew my desire for my husband was not the problem. The second ob-gyn was more understanding and prescribed a numbing cream. That didn’t help at all. The third ob-gyn referred me to a pelvic floor physical therapist and pelvic pain doctor. I spent hours researching solutions to this condition and was overwhelmed by all the terms, i.e., vulvodynia, vestibulodynia, vaginismus. I was scared that the treatment options included anti-convulsants, anti-depressants, Botox, vestibulectomy, etc.
I went to a physical therapist, and she spent an hour using what I call “magic fingers” to hit pressure points on my pelvic muscles and make the pain in that area go away. It was amazing! However, it was only a temporary fix. She told me to use dilators – starting with the smallest size – until I no longer felt pain inserting it, and then to move to the next size. The dilators did help, but I still had burning at the vaginal opening.
The dilators made intercourse tolerable and if I could make it past the initial burn, it was okay. We decided to conceive a baby. After the second month of trying, I got pregnant! As the due date approached, I feared that childbirth would be more painful for me than for the average woman. With an epidural, that worry went right out the window. I was able to have a vaginal birth and delivered my baby with no tearing (lucky me!). After waiting eight weeks post-birth, I nervously tried to have intercourse with my husband again and the pain had practically vanished! Now it’s four months later and I finally find intimacy enjoyable!
I highly recommend pelvic floor physical therapy to women with this condition. Please don’t accept that you have to suffer through sex. Every woman deserves a patient partner and a gradual physical therapy program that, little by little, helps you reach your goal. This is a real problem and there are real solutions out there. Don’t give up!