Based in India, Sylvia*, a doctor, was just 25 when she got married. But thanks to her genito-pelvic pain disorder (GPPD), she was unable to achieve intercourse with her husband for the first 8 years of her marriage, causing her significant distress.
Sylvia’s husband supported her
Fortunately for Sylvia, her husband was a loving, caring, patient man who always understood his wife’s pain. Even though he wanted intimacy with her, he never forced himself on her.
The medical profession was not forgiving
Unfortunately, the rest of Sylvia’s world was not so forgiving. With cultural taboos often masking genuine medical conditions, especially for women, one doctor arrived at the diagnosis of “total negligence of a caring loving husband” and “imaginary complaints” when she spoke of her sexual pain.
The derision was so bad that Sylvia even began doubting whether she loved her husband. Why couldn’t she have sex with him? Her marriage, although happy in all other areas, was at risk.
In desperation, she tried all the usual home remedies: naughty videos, thinking of someone attractive while having sex, cutting down on her work hours, and so on, but none of it worked. Her GPPD remained.
Eventually, she started searching online to see whether there was another cause. She began looking for GPPD treatment centres around the world, when she found an online article from our Founder and Principal Physiotherapist, Dr Angela James FACP. It described how she could overcome vaginal pain during intercourse. From there, she discovered these two videos that Dr James produced on vaginismus:
Feeling inspired by these videos, and confident that our team here at SPC could help, she immediately made plans to fly out from India to Australia to meet Angela and the team here at the clinic. When she arrived, we quickly diagnosed her with primary vaginismus (GPPD). And while that might sound serious, her condition really wasn’t as bad as she feared. She didn’t need psychological intervention – physical therapy would be enough.
Sylvia started her sessions here almost immediately. We asked her what her goals were and what she wanted to achieve with the treatment. She said that sex was actually of secondary importance to her; what she really wanted was to be able to have an internal vaginal ultrasound without the pain and anxiety that they caused her. We reassured her that it was our belief that we could do that in a minimum 6 weeks timeline.
Within just three and a half weeks though, she was on a size 4 dilator. With our encouragement and therapy, Slyvia had her first successful TV scan just 6 weeks after starting treatment!
Transition from dilator to sex was challenging, just as we advised Slyvia on our initial meeting, but even though she was not successful in having full penetration with her husband straight away, they did enjoy intimate moments after the dilator therapy . . . and her condition continues to improve.
However, Sylvia’s ultimate goal was to have a baby. Because of this, she stopped her pelvic physio sessions and took up IVF treatment. This involved a lot of internal vaginal ultrasounds and, although Slyvia still finds these scary sometimes, she now just imagines her physio sitting in the room with her to put her mind at ease, and she is able to go ahead.
Speaking about her experience with Sydney Pelvic Clinic, Sylvia said, “From trawling the internet about vaginismus therapy on my laptop, here I am now writing about my experience with a healthy baby girl growing in my uterus. Words can’t express my gratitude for Sarah and Angela for what they have given me.”
*in the interest of patient confidentiality, names have been changed