Friday, 8 June 2012

The vaginista and the pea

Hello Vaginistas,

I'm sorry I haven't written anything for a while. Quickly, I just want to say thank you to those of you who sent me emails; I'm sorry I haven't replied, I am struggling in a fug of unemployed and new-spinster lethargy, but I promise I will drag myself out of it and reply soon. Needless to say, I am so happy and humbled (if I can say "humbled" without it coming across as the opposite) to receive emails from you all. I have received amazing, inspiring, heartbreaking stories from amazing men and women, and I'm really quite overwhelmed that you contacted me. Honestly, it's a surprising and beautiful side-effect to this blog. I'm hoping (with the authors' consent) to get some of the stories up here soon.

Anyway, all that aside, things are a little funny at the moment. Breaking up with someone rather makes you put sexual therapy on a back burner, but I think progress is still steady. My vagina and I are more or less at peace. I do however have one quite funny story to tell you.

I noticed a couple of weeks ago that I had a tiny, quite painful little lump on my labia. My heart did that one big THUMP followed by the rush of panic that floods up from feet to head that you get when you realise something bad. I calmly went through all of the most likely reasons for the appearance of the lump:

I conjectured.

When I had my first (failed) smear test, the well-meaning but nevertheless patronising nurse told me not to worry, as "Virgins" are at 99% less risk of any infections or diseases in their nether-regions than the sexually initiated. But there's always exceptions right? And there is still that 1% to consider, lurking balefully in the background.

Having accepted that conjecture and panic probably wasn't going to help, I decided I had to go to the drop in gum clinic, grit my teeth and put up with any sort of incredulity or - if I was really unlucky - dismissal that might be sent my way. A painful pea is not a normal thing to find on your foof, after all.

I sat in the waiting room reading, trying to push the thought of horrible, cold and cruel speculums out of my mind, and was shortly joined by two women. As they sat down on the other side of the room, one turned to the other and chuckled:

"Did you see? The receptionist recognised me. Haha, I'm in here all the time!" 

Her friend duly chuckled. I mentally punched myself in the brain to stop it from unfairly judging. What a cow my brain is. It did help me to relax slightly however. "Other women do this all the time! All the time!" I thought. It can't be so bad......

Eventually, my name was called and I went in to see a male Doctor. Now, I know that perhaps some women would prefer to see a female Doctor but honestly, it doesn't bother me either way - as long as they are professionals and not squeamish, then I'm happy. I'm really more worried about what the Doctor uses, than whether the Doctor is male or Female. I was mainly worried in case he turned out to be one of the Vaginismus un-initiated.

Happily, he turned out to be actually and properly amazing. I told him the problem, and he very calmy said it was probably nothing, but definitely a good idea to check it out. 

"I think we should try a speculum" he said, at which point my heart did that big BOOM! Thing again, and all the blood left my face "But we will take it very slowly - I promise. If it hurts, we can stop, if you don't feel comfortable, we can stop. There is absolutely no pressure at all". I loved him. I wanted to give him a hug, but I didn't. 

A Nurse took me through to a treatment room, where I was told to undress from the waist down, get on the bench and put my legs in the stirrups. 
But, I don't see any horses?
Oh, the stirrups. I'm sure you all agree that sitting like this, vulnerable and wide open to the world and it's wife (Yes, OK, so a Doctor and a Nurse, but STILL), with a light pointed directly inside you, is not a fun thing. I was already dreading the painful muscle spasming. Obviously, a smear test is not a fun thing for anyone. I doubt there are many women who look in their calendar and shout


But vaginismus is an extra cherry on top of the whole affair.

I sat there until the Doctor came in, with my legs in the air, gazing whistfully at my disgarded pants. I duly made small talk with the Nurse about the weather, because I am British dammit, and making small talk about the weather is my duty in ALL SITUATIONS. Even situations where I am laying spreadeagled with a stranger snapping on some natty rubber gloves. That done, the Doctor commenced with the examination. It turned out the little pea had disappeared, and was in all likelihood a gland that had become blocked, which is apparently quite normal and can happen from time to time. I am adding this to the list of things that No One Has Told Me About My Vagina (thanks a LOT Catholic education).

He decided we should try a smear test anyway. I felt all the muscles in my body clam up tight. He told me to relax, and started. I squealed. He stopped. He tried again. I squealed and started to cry. He stopped.

"I'm so sorry" I said, feeling the full and mortifying failure of my body.

"What on earth are you apologising for?" He said mildly, putting away the horrible instrument of female torture. I considered asking him to marry me. 

"It's OK dear" Said the nurse cheerfully "We can try a smaller one".

WHAT. WHAT IS THIS? A smaller speculum?! That is a thing?! WHY DID WE NOT TRY THIS FIRST?! At the time, I was too relieved to feel anything but glad that the Evil thing had gone.

The smaller speculum worked fine. I realise in hind-sight that a previous Nurse had told me about them before, and I wish I'd remembered on the way into the examination. Anyway, after that everything went fine. The actual smear samples were nothing; I could barely feel them.

"All done" The doctor said cheerfully, removing his gloves, and leaving me to get dressed. I was exultant, euphoric! I was a proper, real woman, a woman who has smear tests! A woman, with a vagina, that can have SMEAR TESTS!

As I sat there, beaming at my naked ankles high in the air and thinking to myself "I AM WOMAN. I AM PROPER WOMAN. ME VAGINA HAVE SMEAR" the nurse pulled the curtain across to let me dress and turned to me one last time,

"If this happens again" She said kindly "Just make sure you ask for the Virgin speculum."

With that, she left the room.


  1. I am quite familiar with virgin speculums. They are wonders for us vaginismus peeps. :) Of course, I think they called it a pediatric speculum when I went in. Virgin is much better.

  2. (I posted this via my iphone earlier but not sure if it got to you)
    Just wanted to say that I agree with Angie B! I was told they were using a Pediatric Speculum, which in turn made me think of a poor molested little girl having to get an exam (Do they do use them for that? I don't even know, but that's what I thought of...)and made me really sad. I just wonder why they can't call them Extra Small.

    Keeks, thanks so much for your blog! It's so good to read about someone else dealing with this stupid, frustrating problem and to see that they got better. I've read one or two other v blogs and it always seems like they stop posting and you never know if they get better. There were so many times, while reading your blog, I practically said "Me too!" out loud. Thank you!