Vaginismus, a condition characterized by involuntary pelvic floor muscle contractions, can be a challenging journey towards recovery. For those who’ve battled it for any length of time, we know there are periods of great and encouraging progress, but we’re also painfully aware of those inevitable regression periods. When setbacks arise, they create vulnerable moments of frustration and self-doubt. However there is a unique opportunity to handle setbacks with grace and resilience, fostering a supportive environment, and embracing self-compassion in the healing process.
1. Practice Self-Compassion
Healing from vaginismus is a gradual process, and setbacks are a natural part of this transformative journey. It’s crucial to be kind to ourselves and avoid self-criticism during these moments. Instead, embrace self-compassion and recognize that progress is not always linear. Setbacks do not define your journey; they are stepping stones towards growth and learning.
Recognize that, like most journeys in life, periods of regression or stagnation are expected. Majority of the women experiencing vaginismus (myself included), have experienced set-backs where we can’t get the tip of a dilator in, or pain has shifted and now there is burning on the right side too, or you have to go down a dilator size or two. Knowing that these set-backs are common and to be expected can help with adjusting expectations and extending compassion to ourselves.
Take a moment to acknowledge the progress you’ve made so far, and remember that healing requires time and dedication. Celebrate each step forward, no matter how small it may seem. Trust in your ability to navigate setbacks, showing yourself the same love and understanding you would offer to a dear friend facing similar challenges.
2. Take a Deep Breath
Stress and anxiety can exacerbate the dysregulation of the nervous system, making relaxation and controlling the pelvic floor more difficult. When faced with setbacks, take a deep breath and find solace in the power of nourishing your mind, body, and soul in ways that work for you. Allow yourself the time and space to help your system process this well, so you can continue to pursue a harmonized nervous system state.
Practicing self-care is vital during these moments. Engage in activities that bring you joy and comfort, whether it’s reading a book, taking a walk in nature, or spending time in intentional prayer. Embrace these moments of rest and rejuvenation, letting go of the pressure and stress associated with setbacks.
3. Go Easy on Yourself
In navigating vaginismus recovery, be gentle with yourself both mentally and physically. It’s essential to offer yourself non-judgmental grace and understanding. If you feel overwhelmed, consider taking a few days’ break from dilating and exercises. This is not a sign of weakness but rather an act of self-care.
Practically, this can look like putting the dilators in the drawer for a few days to allow for a mental and physical break. Or continuing but using a more comfortable and familiar dilator to help with building and reinforcing positive associations.
Adjust your recovery routine with compassion, reducing the pressure without any guilt or shame. Remember, progress can be slow, and that is absolutely okay. Celebrate the courage you show each day by choosing to work on your healing, especially when faced with the frustration of setbacks.
Creating a Supportive Environment
The journey towards overcoming vaginismus is a deeply personal one, but you don’t have to face it alone. Seek support from loved ones, friends, or healthcare professionals who can provide understanding and encouragement. Joining a support group (like our private facebook group), can be a powerful way to connect with others who are going through similar experiences.
Through connecting with others who have vaginismus, you’ll see that others also experience similar set-backs as you. You’ll learn strategies to persevere and grow in compassion during these set-backs, all while having support and encouragement along the way. (Although do note that not all online communities are supportive or beneficial for your growth).
In my Mind-Body-Sex Reset Vaginismus Program, we address set-backs and lacking motivation in many different ways. We also have an amazing community of supportive women who laugh, cry, share stories, and bash dilating together (but in a healthy way)! It’s designed to be a nourishing place of healing for your vaginismus journey, something so needed in a condition that is so vulnerable and private. To join in on the fun and encouragement, schedule an easy and free consultation call today!