As I mention in my last post, I just joined the Vaginismus Support Group (a Yahoo group created to support women who struggle with vaginismus). This morning, I read through and replied to a post from a newbie who had just been diagnosed with vaginismus and was reminded about my first experience with a tampon.
Oh, tampons! They seemed almost mythical to me as a teenager. I heard other girls talking about using them, but when I tried, I just couldn’t seem to find the right hole. I thought I was probably just doing something wrong, and never really gave it a second thought. I just assumed that because I wasn’t sexually active and was a bit more prudish than the other girls, I just had to stick with pads and be done with it.
It wasn’t until I was in my mid-20′s that I actually tried using one again. I’m not sure what brought me to the point of utter determination, but one evening, I found myself alone in my bathroom, squatting over the toilet and refusing to leave that room until I finally got one inserted. I read those instructions so friggin’ thoroughly. And I remember it took ages, and I was relieved that my boyfriend (now my husband) was out of town because I’m sure he would have wondered what I was doing cooped up in there for so long.
But I finally got one in. And almost fainted. I literally felt dizzy and light in the head and had to sit, head between my knees, for a few minutes until the feeling passed. Of course, I immediately harkened back to that ominous bolded print on the instruction sheet, warning users about toxic shock syndrome and listing faintness and nausea as one of the symptoms.
I did not sleep that night. Although the faintness and nausea went away, I was convinced I had done damage to my body and the next morning, I took myself straight to my doctor’s. Thankfully, I had an incredibly understanding and educated doctor, and she told me I had done everything totally right, and that toxic shock syndrome is incredibly rare and generally only occurs when you’ve had a tampon in for an overly extended amount of time. In her nice and understanding way, I think she tried to tell me I had just had a panic attack.
That night, I spoke to my mom on the phone. She was aware of some of the vagina problems I had been having, and I felt like I needed to nurture my inner teenage self and just ask someone all those ridiculous first-time tampon user questions. Will it ever just fall out? What if it gets stuck? Can I poop when I’ve got one in? Can I sleep with one in? I felt a bit ridiculous being a 26-year-old and needing to ask these questions of my mom (didn’t I pay attention in Sex-Ed class?) but my mom was great, and handled it like it was the most normal thing ever.
Nowadays, I use tampons quite regularly. It did take me awhile to get used to them, but I discovered that a lubricant helped a lot to get them in/out. And I think the regular use of tampons also really curbed my vulvar vestibulitis. I remember that my first months of using tampons always felt somewhat uncomfortable. I was always accutely aware that there was something in my vagina. Now I don’t feel them at all.
There are definitely things worth celebrating on this crazy vagina journey