TREATMENTS for Vaginismus:
Pros & Cons
6. INTENSE TREATMENTS IN PRIVATE CLINICS
Private clinics treating vaginismus can offer individually-tailored daily or weekly treatments, based at their premises, where each woman is first assessed (with or without her partner) and then can receive a combination of gradual "hands on" guided penetration training or intensive physical/medical treatments usually together with emotional coaching, until she can have painfree intercourse or is able to insert tampons and speculum.
(See more about such clinics in the article on the commercialization of Vaginismus )
Ps. Most of these pros and cons have been retrieved and adapted with permission from a file that has been put together in the English yahoo support group for Vaginismus, that reflected many women's experience and thoughts of what the benefits and negatives were for them, of such clinics.
If you have an experience with such clinics and want to share your pro or cons, let us know and we will add some more here:
PRIVATE CLINICS: Pros
1) The treatment seems to work for most of theose women who stick out to it, however it does not work for everyone and not always in the short time some of them promise.
2) Some of them also make sure patients can insert tampons and have examinations with a speculum as well as being able to have intercourse.
3) If you live somewhere where healthcare is not free, for example in the United States, then the cost of going to such expensive clinics would not be that much more expensive than going to a physical therapist/psychologist over a long period. (But it'd depend on your health insurance deal)
4) A hands on approach is something some women feel they need to cure their vaginismus. Sometimes women can not insert anything on their own and feel they need someone to help them do that. Many women work well under external motivation. They may perform at their best when they have someone of authority watching over them and telling them exactly what to do. (Although it's arguable whether that's something to encourage...)
5) They are another option or last resort for those women who feel they have tried everything else and who are under a lot of stress, pressure or even threats from their partners. (Although again, it's sad women should give in to such pressures)
6) Because these clinics receive many patients, the clinicians usually have a lot of experience on vaginismus and will know what they are dealing with.
7) They are available to their patients for all their stay and offer assistance. (After that period, they can charge for extra hours or will remind you they are not your mother..)
PRIVATE CLINICS: Cons
1) These treatments are usually very expensive. At the best of our knowledge it can be currently as much as $10,000 for a 2-weekly program in a centre in New York. And this price does NOT include accommodation/food/transport etc. and if you come from out of New York or out of the States and go there with your husband, as a woman told us:
"the cost of all the other expenses can be up to 5,000 usd (hotel, car, plane tickets, food plus medicines)"
3) Most of these clinics' websites don't explain what their treatment clearly consists of and they leave some secrecy behind it. If they are new treatments, they haven't yet published them in peer-reviewed scientific papers where they can be tested and become public medical knowledge.
Thanks to the people who've been there and shared in some blogs what was actually done to them, it is clear that they too use systematic desensitization and gradually have women dilate with bigger sizes of dilators or spacers. Their method is therefore NOT different from systematic desensitization, which is what many women like us successfully did at home and almost for free, with home-made dilators and the help of a support group, their partner or under the supervision of their gynaecologist.
The only difference is that these clinics usually provide individual coaching and they make sure you stick to a very intense programme.
4) In some of these clinics, the treatment seems very hands on, they will physically insert dilators for you, so it may not be suitable for those women who dont want others touching them or inserting things into them.
5) We've been told that some of these centres put some women on anti-depressants in order to help them going through the treatment, whereas other clinics can have you on hormonal therapy while completing the program.
6) Most insurance companies do not cover the cost of going to these clinics.
7) Exclusion criteria are not explicit but its been reported that some centres do not treat women who have been sexually abused or have other psychological issues. Their success rates are therefore skewed.
8) One of these centres, the Women Therapy Centre, in its website, portrayed itself as being the ONLY centre which seems to successfully cure vaginismus.
It states: Vaginismus is only currently gaining much needed publicity, as only one therapy center, Women's Therapy Center, New York, in the world seems to be successfully treating patients
(Retrieved June 1 2007 from the WTC website. Click here for a cached view of the page.
The sentence we quote is on the last page, at the very bottom).
We think that such affirmations can be very misleading, since in New York alone there are several physical therapists, sex therapists and gynecologists who help women overcome vaginismus every day, and for much less money too.
Also, such a sentence has led many women to feel hopeless. One woman told us "after reading such a sentence, I felt that since I didn't have that much money and lived too far away from them, there wouldn't be any other chance of treating vaginismus for me, which obviously just wasn't true, and for a year I gave up looking for any other alternative (thinking there wasn't..). I felt pretty hopeless and I'm not the only one who felt that way."
10) These centres rarely or never mention the possibility for women to treat vaginismus successfully on their own. They will often say that treating vaginismus requires "specialized skills" which isn't true in all cases as we know. Many women like us solved a case of primary vaginismus at their own home, following advice from a support group of ladies just like us, and taking it easy.. It's tough, (emotionally especially) but it's not rocket science..
Even if some of these clinics now finally added that "mild/marginal cases of vaginismus can be treated at home with self-help kits", they fail to explain what exactly a mild/marginal case of vaginismus is.
We know of many women who have had severe cases of vaginismus (i.e. they couldnt insert anything at all) and who were still able to cure it on their own.
11) Their extremely high success rates or methods ( some claim 95% success rate, the Sexual Dysfunction Centre in India even claims a 100%. See a snapshot of their webpage ) have not been proven in any scientific clinical trials that we know of.
12) Although they can claim that once treated by them, vaginismus will never come back, (the Sexual Dysfunction Centre in India even goes as far as saying that "the chances of reoccurrance are NIL") they dont actually have any way of guaranteeing this and as many women can testify, vaginismus can come back even after being cured, for a variety of reasons that no treatment can prevent from happening (ie. giving birth, cancer, abuse from partner etc.). See more on this myth in the section on Misconceptions .
13) Some of the specialized skilled therapists advertizing their unique treatments, for all of their qualifications and experience, are not actual MD's, though they call themselves Doctors, potentially misleading women into thinking they are licensed physicians.
[Those who possess a doctoral degree are generally entitled to call themselves "Doctor", although restrictions apply in some some situations (e.g., when it would mislead someone to think that they are licensed physician). WIKIPEDIA June 2008 at "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_(title)"]
["While use of the (Doctor) title alone is generally permitted, the context in which the title is used may cause use of the title to be a false or misleading communication" in the American Bar Association http://www.abanet.org/media/youraba/200709/ethics.html ]
12) Some of these clinics' sites defines vaginismus as a DYSFUNCTION. That contributes to medicalizing this condition, when it could very well be a very FUNCTIONAL response that a vagina has as a defense mechanism, whether conscious or unconscious.
14) Some women described the approach there as too harsh or found the intense programs a boot camp. Other women may feel this attitude is exactly what was needed to get them to start trying to cure vaginismus. However it should be noted that a good physical therapist could also fill this role, and they can be covered by insurance.
15) There are no guarantees that you will be cured, or cured in the short amount of time you pay for. Yet, to the best of our knowledge, they often don't offer a refund if you are not.
16) Many women come back from these clinics able to have intercourse but it is still a bit painful for them, or not that enjoyable or they still need to dilate quite a bit before each time they attempt it. This is the same result that can normally happen to women who self-treat vaginismus, especially for the first few months or year after being able to insert the biggest dilator painlessly, because training a vagina to insert a penis effortlessly is not the same as teaching a woman and her partner how to have the intimacy and chemistry (and respect) needed for a pleasurable intercourse sessions. Also, being able to insert all dilators in a week or two doesn't turn an unskilled or uncaring partner into a loving one. So there's often more to work to do before having enjoyable sex or a loving relationship, which these clinics can't possibly help you with.
17) Even if some of these clinics say in their websites that they care for women's well being and sexual health and that they want to raise awareness of vaginismus as one of their goals, we feel that if they really wanted to do that, certainly they could publish their technique methods and a dilating guide for free for those women who can't afford their treatments.
Unfortunately, the way they are structured, they seem to only care for rich women's sexual health and well-being and we find that pretty hypocritical.
Click on one!
Back to Top