About 5 years ago now, I was sent to Athena Women’s Health (now EvergreenHealth Urology & Urogynecology Care) for a left sided kidney stone that I was passing. I was 30 years old and I will never forget my surprise when the doctor asked me if I ever had vaginal or sexual pain. I literally had no idea why she would ask me this but I know now that the Athena doctors always ask about sexual and bowel function. I guess that makes sense now but at the time I was surprised. My response to the question was that I had always had painful sexual intercourse and could only go “part way.” I could never fully have this kind of sex and while I could enjoy other types of sexual activity and had normal levels of desire, I could never have penetration. Even use of tampons was not possible which made summers very gross and swimming and lake trips were limited.
At this point, I had never been able to have a Pap smear exam and had been told by multiple doctors that “you just need to relax.” I was even sent to a sex therapist but I didn’t feel like I had a mental problem—just my vagina wouldn’t work the way it was supposed to! I had long since given up any hope that I would have a normal sex life. So imagine my surprise coming in for a kidney stone to have this doctor telling me my sex problem is treatable?! She asked to do a vaginal exam which I wasn’t expecting but I was willing because this was the first I was hearing there could be hope. Sure enough—my kidney stone passed but the most important thing is that I started physical therapy of my pelvic muscles which helped me SO much.
When the doctor first told me about vaginal physical therapy I thought she sounded crazy! But when the rationale was explained to me it made a ton of sense so…I did it. After about 2-3 months I was feeling much better. But while my pain was very improved after the physical therapy and I could have intercourse for longer periods of time, I was still pretty bothered by the pain. After a repeat exam by my doctor, we decided that a treatment with Botox to relax my muscles in combination with physical therapy would do the trick. While that was also a pretty strange sounding concept—it also made sense to me to relax the muscles. I underwent a quick and easy Botox injection procedure under an anesthetic that was easy. I went home the same day and hardly had any discomfort at all. After a couple of more session of physical therapy I am now having pain free sex—amazing!! Oh and I can also wear tampons now which has been life changing as I can swim all summer and wear what I want on my period.