As a Psychotherapist, I have been supporting women who experience various forms of Vaginismus, aversions to sex and intimacy concerns for several years, so I decided it was time to create this Irish Vaginismus Blog! These sensitive and intimate issues are not just personal but also cultural, societal, psychological, psychosexual, physiological and sometimes medical.
Yes, that is a lot to get your head around in my introduction but hang in there and keep reading! Many of my clients have shared their despair about how little valuable information there is about the condition, increasing their sense of loneliness and isolation – you are not alone.
Through this blog, I wish to acknowledge women’s silent and unspoken inner conversations, fears and challenges about their bodies and to empower them to open up about the condition of Vaginismus. I will also share the holistic perspectives of those professionals working with women’s sexual health who provide interventions for Vaginismus and the options available to women seeking understanding, awareness and the various treatment interventions.
Straight or gay, many women who experience various degrees of Vaginismus are not in an intimate relationship, do not let this hold you back right now from addressing the condition.
How women feel about their bodies and their sexuality is deep-rooted in the culture and society we are born into and the conversations and external influences we absorb through life. Unfortunately for women, we have been conditioned, not by personal choice, to feel shame and disconnect from our bodies and sexual selves – not acceptance and connection. For some, fear-based sex education, myths, and terrifying stories about pregnancy, childbirth, abortion, and even tampon use during informative childhood years are at the source of the condition.
The truth is women experience all types of problems and hangups about their sexual bodies, intimacy and, in particular, their breasts, vulva and vaginal area. Primary, secondary and situational Vaginismus is one of these more common conditions, which places limitations on a woman and how her body functions. It is a condition affecting the pelvic muscles, nervous system and the sexual arousal cycle. The signs and symptoms are diverse and profoundly unique to each woman and her experiences.
One thing for sure is that trying to identify the root causes of your Vaginismus can feel exhausting, which is why this blog is more focused on pro-active, positive and integrative aspects of coming to terms with the condition, accepting your limitations with where you are right now and working towards developing a deeper and more compassionate relationship with your whole sexual self… and your vulva!
In this vaginismus blog, I share insights into the therapeutic process of coming to terms with Vaginismus, how to ease and relieve symptoms and, significantly – the process of developing self-compassion, sex positivity and empowerment in women regardless of relationship status, sexuality or age. Sex positivity is for all women, irrespective of the limitations of our bodies.
One conversation raised by all clients in the early days of therapy relates to relationship status and the presence or absence of an intimate partner when it comes to treatments, intervention and setting goals.
Let me assure you; there are both pros and cons to working towards resolving vaginismus solo or with a partner; do not let that get in your way right now. Many of these pros and cons are assumed and presumed by the chronic worrier and overthinker!
Staying mindful and grounded in this new therapeutic counselling process with your therapist means that we work with were ever you are in your life right now, developing compassion, self-motivation and unconditional positive regard for your whole self – independent or attached! This therapy process is about you and how you relate to your body first and foremost.
Therapy is not always deep and serious. There is much humour and joy in sessions when learning to talk openly and unashamedly about sex and sexuality as you make progress.
Vaginismus is a condition that is intrinsically linked to the sexual and psychosexual self regardless of sexuality and sexual activity. Each woman will come to therapy with her own experiences, expectations and desired outcomes, irrespective of sexuality or relationship status. And yes, gay women also experience many signs and symptoms of Vaginismus and come to therapy to find the same solutions and self-intimacy as straight women.
My clients having these intimate therapy conversations are of all ages and life stages. Some are post-menopausal starting therapy, with no desire to be in an intimate relationship or be able to have penetrative sex but who do wish to feel free and re-connected in their femininity or sexuality in a way they never felt permission to until now.
Click here to find out more about booking an online therapy appointment with Orlagh Reid via Doxy, a telemedicine platform for health clinicians.
Every woman has a different set of goals and desired outcomes in psychosexual therapy; these can be identified through early sessions and will change and progress with progress. Relationship status should not be a defining factor for better managing vaginistic symptoms – what you want for yourself, and your body should be. Of course, relational harmony is important, and sometimes women start therapy not because they are quite ready but because they feel invested in their partner and the relationship.
Whatever pace you wish to take in therapy is up to you. My role as a psychotherapist is to be reassuring, comforting and supportive in a facilitative way that brings context and awareness to your journey. Therapy is not always deep and serious. There is much humour and joy in sessions when learning to talk openly and unashamedly about sex and sexuality as you make progress. Together we will shift how you feel about many aspects of your vaginismus and sexual self, abandoning any thoughts and beliefs which continue to hold you back.
Straight or gay, many women who experience various degrees of Vaginismus are not in an intimate relationship, do not let this hold you back right now from addressing the condition! Either way and regardless of sexuality or relationship status, it is about developing self-intimacy and a deep, respectful relationship with yourself and your body as an empowered woman.
You might also like to read in the Vaginismus series... Ask The Expert: The Pelvic Floor Connection with Lorraine Boyce aka The Down Below Physio Ask the Expert: Sex educator Grace Alice O’Shea on embracing and resolving vaginismus, self-care and mindfulness Ask the Expert: Dr Maria McEvoy on her research insights, compassionate practices & understanding Vaginismus as a sociocultural phenomenon Ask the Expert: Starting Specialist Pelvic Physiotherapy for Vaginismus with Vie Physio 9 Health Professionals for a Holistic Integrative Approach to Resolving Vaginismus & Penetration Pain Working with a Couples Therapist to Resolve Vaginismus and Redefine Intimacy Together Everything You Need to Know About Choosing a Dilator For Dilator Training Embracing a Holistic and Integrative Path for Resolving Vaginismus Working with a Couples Therapist to Resolve Vaginismus and Redefine Intimacy Together