How can I stay motivated and positive through treatment? I struggle with avoidance.

How can I stay motivated and positive through treatment? I struggle with avoidance.

Avoiding vaginismus diagnosis and treatment keeps many women suffering needlessly. Taking positive corrective action is key to breaking the cycle of avoidance and defeat.

Fear, complacency, and avoidance

It is common for people to avoid issues that are difficult, painful, or have uncertain and potentially disheartening outcomes. This is especially true with vaginismus. The pervasive hopelessness that couples feel with this sex problem is defeating and paralyzing. One of the biggest stumbling blocks in getting through vaginismus is simply dealing with avoidance. Encouragement, love, patience, and communication can go a long way in helping to sustain relationships during trials, but there is no simply no substitute for taking positive corrective action. Facing the problem directly, educating oneself and taking the positive necessary steps to overcome vaginismus are key to breaking the cycle of avoidance and defeat.

How do I overcome avoidance? – Taking action when everything feels hopeless.

The sudden presence of vaginismus sexual problems in relationships puts heavy pressures on women. When every sexual attempt brings pain or failure, and no simple explanations can be found, women may begin to withdraw emotionally due to feelings of hopelessness. Their whole world may seem wrapped in the despair of the condition, and avoidance may become a part of survival or an ongoing coping mechanism. The emotions may seem overwhelming. Feelings of failure, worthlessness, guilt, frustration, loneliness or shame often surround or paralyze women with vaginismus. Some women begin to define themselves by these negative characteristics and find it hard to even consider treatment solutions.

If the initial attempts to diagnose or prescribe appropriate treatment for vaginismus fail (which they often do), many women react to the emotional pain by withdrawing or avoiding even discussing the problem. Complacency begins to develop and sometimes months or years slip by with no resolution or effort to find solutions. Relationships are frequently overtaxed from emotional strains, grief related to family planning disappointments, or the obvious sexual problems and conflicts, and often begin to flounder and fail. Complacency about unresolved sexual issues typically erodes spousal trust and slowly builds resentment. Couples attempting to just ‘get by’ without a sexual component usually find themselves drifting apart and losing feelings for each other. In some cases, women with vaginismus experience husbands with increasingly passive character traits, trying to adapt to the sexless relationship while fighting back feelings of continual rejection or frustration. Going through the trials of vaginismus can definitely test a relationship to the limit.

The famous quote “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” (Franklin D. Roosevelt) in many ways can also be appropriate for dealing with vaginismus. Vaginismus can be overcome. Fear and avoidance are often the biggest obstacles in overcoming the condition (beyond getting proper diagnosis and treatment information). A woman needs to make a decision to not allow her future to be defined by the frustrations, failures, or hurts of the past. Facing a difficult problem is never easy. It is normal to experience discouragement with challenging steps in the treatment process and avoidance tends to beckon. Nearly every woman who has faced vaginismus has battled with avoidance. Those who have overcome have not allowed it to imprison them.

To stay motivated and positive, the following additional suggestions may help women to combat avoidance and complacency:

  1. Take action. Making a positive decision to move forward helps restore relationships and ultimately enhances intimacy and trust. Since vaginismus has such high treatment outcomes, we encourage all women to seek treatment solutions or at a very minimum to become knowledgeable about their condition and the process to overcome it so they can make informed decisions.
  2. Get a diagnosis. If possible, persist in obtaining a solid medical diagnosis. Without a diagnosis there is a tendency to avoid treatment solutions due to uncertainty (thinking that they may not be applicable).
  3. Become knowledgeable about vaginismus. Learning about the condition and how to resolve it really helps to combat fears of the unknown or fears of treatment failure. Knowledge also helps women to advocate for themselves in getting better diagnosis and treatment care from their health practitioners.
  4. Get a program. Understanding the steps needed to resolve the condition is crucial in the process of overcoming it. Women need to realize that having a program makes overcoming vaginismus a much easier, more manageable and successful process.
  5. Be consistent and develop a treatment routine. This can really help during those times of emotional upheaval. Keep moving forward with the treatment process and continue working through each step with regularity, even when life feels hopeless.
  6. Remember the declarations (part of Step 2). A woman needs to choose to not allow the pain or failures of the past to continue to impair the successes of the future. It takes time to retrain a person’s body to overcome vaginismus. Be positive and embrace a different future potential.
  7. Get ‘plugged in’. The vaginismus private forum is a great place to ask questions, get advice, give and receive encouragement, and vent in times of frustration. Knowing that a person isn’t alone when they go through the program really can help, as can sharing one’s successes. Some women pair up with others in the forum to hold each other accountable. Others connect with both those ahead of them and behind them. In these ways, women can receive encouragement from others going through similar emotions while also sharing individual progress and struggles to help those coming along behind. Other methods of support are also freely available.
  8. Practice relaxing. With intention, women can learn how to control and relax their mind and body. A pleasant distraction can also help mitigate difficult circumstances and allow a woman’s mind and body to be refreshed and renewed. Hobbies or activities that relax and help rest emotions could include gardening, reading, hiking, singing, cooking, or other activities.
  9. Use rewards. Some women create rewards to help them move forward through the program. A reward could be given with each small step completed, or for major milestones. Spouses can also join in, using this motivator to surprise their wives or partners with items of gratitude such as a massage, dinner out, or a small gift to spur them forward.
  10. Give yourself a break. Consider planning for occasional or milestone breaks (as long as they don’t lead to avoidance or loss of progress). For example, after working through steps consistently for several days in row perhaps take a weekend off, etc.
  11. Be determined. Significant life achievements require patient determination. Be determined to overcome your fears and all other stumbling blocks to resolve vaginismus and find freedom. You can do it!