In the spring of 1969, a small group of women in Boston planted a seed of change toward the way we view women's health and well-being today. During discussions in a workshop on "women and their bodies," they found value in sharing information and feelings about themselves and their experiences with doctors - so much so, that they decided to keep meeting and talking.
Their meetings led to a summer project, in which each of them researched and wrote about topics they felt were particularly pertinent to learning about their health. And out of that project grew a course for women and, in 1970, a publication called "Women and Their Bodies" published by the New England Free Press.
The group's goal was to put their knowledge into an accessible form that could be shared with others and serve as a model for women who wanted to learn about themselves, communicate their feelings with doctors and challenge the medical establishment to change and improve the care that women received. They reached it in 1973 when Simon & Schuster published the first commercial edition of "Our Bodies, Ourselves," - the new name given to "Women and Their Bodies" in 1971. And their work continues today, as The Boston Women's Health Book Collective celebrated the 40th anniversary of "Our Bodies, Ourselves" with the publication of it's ninth, updated edition in October.
I have found something interesting while working with vaginismus patients. Many of them are angry.
Most of them don't seem angry when they first come in. They seem sad, hopeless, confused, and afraid. I most often have the urge to put my arms around them and say "It'll be okay. I promise you."
But oftentimes I find that as the treatment progresses they get angry. And it can be hard for them and hard for us. Hard for them because they don't understand how angry they are and why they feel so angry and it's hard for us because we are not always sure how to help them negotiate their anger.
Here are some things we've learned from our patients over the years:
As you overcome the vaginismus, learning to control the muscle spasms, manage the pain, you start to let go of some of the fear and terror of the pain. As you start to accept that your body is normal, you might start feeling angry because:
First of all, have some patience with yourself. Really. Changing your vagina is a big deal - it is going to involve some growing pains emotionally. Take some deep breaths. Again, you are not crazy. Try to get a handle on what is going on with yourself, and accept that the road might be a bit bumpy.
Then here are some things to think about. Focus on the ones that resonate with you. Everyone is different and the things that bother (or help) one person might well not bother (or help) you. So think about which of these ideas might make you feel better:
So if you are someone who is working your way through vaginismus treatment... it's okay to be angry. Really. And realize that the anger will pass and it's just one more step along the process of healing.
|In This Issue|
|Which comes first, sex or your relationship?
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|Quote of the Month|
| "If sex is such a natural phenomenon, how come there are so many books on how to do it?"
|Why Women See Us|
|"I feared that it was the end of my marriage. I didn't know there was anything you could do about it."
"After my second child, I never got my libido back"
"I was never able to use tampons. What was wrong with me that I couldn't do the same things everyone else could?"
~ M, 29
|"It wasn't my marriage or my husband. I wasn't crazy, it was physical. What a relief! " ~L
"My mood and desire are enhanced. I am more optimistic and positive, and the best news is that my husband and I are having sex again."
"The entire treatment experience went smoothly and I never felt pressured to do anything I was uncomfortable doing. "
~ M, 29
"Going to the MCFS was one of the most important "gifts" I ever gave myself."
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