BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF

I’ll let you in on a secret – I’m scared to death to write this post, but I feel as though I owe it to my younger self to be open and honest. My blog is a place I feel safe, and I dislike the feeling of having to dilute my personal experiences to the extent where I feel removed from my own writing. I want to look back on my blog in years to come and reflect on how far my little self has travelled during my time on earth, and if I can provide comfort to just one other woman, well that’s the most satisfying way that I could ever quantify success…

I guess I should start at the very beginning. I remember starting my period for the first time (I was around 15 I believe), and this often resulted in me feeling like the baby of the group, like I was somehow endlessly uncool and inexperienced because I was constantly being passed down information rather than discovering it for myself. I remember rushing home and being excited that I finally reached some sort of bodily function related milestone – it was a relief to know that my body was working the same way as my friends, and I now felt that I could join them in their period related woes. After all, nothing quite bonds women like being on your period at the same time, or saving the day of someone who hasn’t quite turned up prepared! Women help each other like this every single day and I love that about us – it’s something that men will just never quite have the same empathy for.

We are superheroes armed with tampons, chocolate and puppy memes for whenever our fellow women in need may require them. I’ve never been afraid to talk about periods – there should be zero stigma attached, and the fact that some men consider them to be gross is still a reminder that we have a little way to go in terms of allowing women to feel comfortable about their own bodies. Personally, I could never marry someone who wasn’t prepared to nip to the shop for period related supplies! Anyway (I digress), a couple of months passed and I finally decided I wanted to try a tampon to see what all the fuss was about. I couldn’t seem to make it work no matter how hard I tried or how hard I ‘relaxed’ – everyone around me was using them with minimum effort, even my younger sister. I remember feeling stupid, but I tried not to take it to heart and instead just settled for towels or pads…

A few more years and a couple of boyfriends later – I was privately experiencing a whole new set of troubles. As you can imagine, this was now affecting me sexually, meaning lots of awkward/frustrating encounters, lots of tearing up by myself and wondering what the hell was wrong with me. Luckily, I have never had anything but loving boyfriends who were understanding and patient with me, and I’ll forever feel thankful for this. However, it was little comfort at a time when I felt completely foreign to my own body – somehow I didn’t understand it and nobody else seemed to either. I’d turn my back to boys on nights out (not just the creepy ones) but anyone who would generally take an interest who could have been perfectly nice – I was terrified of having to explain to people that I was different. It affected my self confidence and body image massively – I hated myself for years because I didn’t recognise it, it felt physically and mentally restrictive, and throughout university I let it know exactly what I thought of it. I was cruel to myself, I put on lots of weight, I self harmed at times, and had some pretty dark days that felt like they would never end. I didn’t want to be this person – I wanted energy to be the thoughtful, funny, creative person that I knew I could be.

I finally plucked up the courage to go and get myself professionally examined, but this was also difficult, and mentally quite a traumatic experience. My brain would cause muscles to spasm as an emotional response – something I later learned was Vaginismus. There are different types of Vaginismus and a multitude of life events and circumstances that can trigger it. For some, it’s a minor thing that can be healed with a  few appointments, for others it can stem back to something awful they experienced as a child. You can develop it after any kind of trauma basically, so the hard part is trying to face this trauma head on, and to retrain your body to work as it should naturally. It’s an exhausting process, and one that I feel there just simply isn’t enough help for.

For five or six years, I tried a few different forms of therapy and hopped from doctors surgery to doctors surgery in a vain attempt that one of them would tell me it was some kind of joke. It was of course, a huge strain on my relationship throughout the years too – I refused to admit there was a problem, and I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to get myself better. I didn’t know how to get myself better, and I was constantly torn between whether it was a mental issue, a physical issue, or both making me suffer at the same time like some kind of ongoing battle for my own body. 

However, Sam still remains firmly by my side, and I have never been more thankful for a human being in my life. He has shown me what real friendship and love truly is – he has held my hand every scary step of the way, and never expected more of me than I can offer. In no way do I believe that you need a man to be secure by yourself, but had it not been for him, I don’t think I would have pushed myself enough to get to the root cause of the issue. He recognised that I deserved better, even when my head was flooded with negative thoughts. Ultimately, he encouraged me not to give up on myself, and to keep searching for answers…

As many of you might be aware by now, this year was the year I quit the job that was making me miserable, and decided to pursue blogging full-time. After a few months, I was able to save more money that I had ever had in my bank account before – I’m not talking millions here, but I was able to put aside some funds for my future, something which my other jobs had never allowed before. I started saving for a deposit for a house, and there was a certain confidence in finally feeling like I was providing for myself and being able to help others around me. For the first year in my life I hadn’t needed to ring my mum for emergency money – I was able to start giving back to her and to start investing a little more in my hobby that I was now lucky enough to call a career.

This new found independence (along with a genuine love for the job I had created for myself) seemed to massively shift my mentality – although my job is by no means secure, I started to feel that I had a purpose, and that I wasn’t just floundering on the outskirts of womanhood. I was now becoming part of a community of girl bosses that would continue to be nothing but welcoming and supportive. I was finally (at twenty five years old), starting to stand on my own two feet and pave my very own way through this daunting but exciting new industry.

Fast forward a few months of being on cloud nine and excitedly checking my email box each morning (I still get excited, is that sad?), reality started to sink in, and I still had this empty space inside that needed tending to (not an intentional innuendo for my vagina but let’s roll with it anyway). It was finally suggested to me to be put under general anaesthetic so that someone could properly examine me and hopefully rule out anything more serious than Vaginismus. The waiting lists were endless – I will never ever complain about the NHS because it’s one of the most precious accomplishments the UK has to offer, but experts in Vaginismus seemed niche throughout my journey. Time and time again my appointments would be cancelled – I’d psyche myself up just to be sat in a flood of tears again when I got the cancellation news.

This happened again recently, so I decided to take matters into my own hands, and I started researching private care that was available to me. I came across a clinic (super close to where I live) and immediately booked an appointment. I wasn’t sure if it would be money well spent or money wasted – I had zero expectations at this point, and had almost given up hope of ever feeling comfortable in my own skin. Just under a couple of hundred pounds allowed me a full hour of private examination and analysis of my case. I was (for the first time ever) examined throughly, and things slowly started to move forward. Without getting all surgical, I was told that I had some skin that had fused inside of me (almost like a septum situation) that was making everything extremely painful. In addition to this, my Fallopian tubes weren’t fused properly, and I had a sensitive skin condition that was causing the opening to be problematic. None of this was visible from the outside over the years – my periods and general day to day functioning had been normal. In fact, I liked the way my vagina looked, I just hated the way it didn’t work.

It was these undiagnosed physical abnormalities that had apparently caused my Vaginismus over the years – but I had also spent years trying to uncover some kind of mental trauma from my childhood or teenage years. I’d spent years soul searching, beating myself up, and being told to just try and relax and put on some fucking candles. It’s safe to say that every part of my being felt instantly relieved – someone had finally told me that I wasn’t stupid after all, that I was right to feel that something was wrong, and I could finally stop exhausting myself mentally and sending myself into a spiral of despair. She told me that my fears were justified and that I could now start the journey of being kind to my mind and body. I felt this overwhelmingly bittersweet sensation – everything seemed like it was finally starting to move in the right direction, but I felt sad for younger me. I felt sad for other women that were still searching and still suffering. I didn’t know how to feel, I just knew that I had to keep moving forward, no matter how unsexy and ashamed it had all made me feel inside.

27.11.17

Today is Monday and possibly the Monday that will forever stand out as the scariest Monday ever. I feel like all of us have had one at some point – an almost doomsday feeling that everything is about to change, or at least it feels that way at the time…

I had been offered a private operation which I would have to spend all my savings on, or I could go back to the NHS and be put on a waiting list again. The doctor told me that it could all be over with before Christmas, and that was pretty much all I needed to hear to part with my hard earned money – there was some vain part of me that wanted to enter 2018 and leave as much of this issue as possible behind me. For once, I just wanted to stand there on New Year’s Eve and feel optimistic about the year ahead. I don’t know how much I believe in fate and all of that spiritual jazz, but it did somehow feel like someone was watching out for me this year.

I guess I’m not sure that everything happens for a reason – sometimes life is impossibly shitty and unfair, and then it suddenly isn’t so bad again. We learn to make peace and move forward, we are stronger than we ever give ourselves credit for…

I almost felt guilty for turning up to the hospital and handing my debit card over to the woman sitting at reception. My heart kept ached intensely for younger me who would have never been able to get together the money, it ached for all the young girls and women over the world who wouldn’t be able to either. I kept tearing up and torturing myself with do I really deserve this? It’s a strange position to be in, and I haven’t encountered many people with the same issue. It’s understandably a set of issues that people wouldn’t want to shout from the rooftops about, but I think it’s important to break down these stigmas, and make people feel less alone. I know that reading the stories of other women online was a huge comfort to me at times – I felt less alien and less pessimistic about the future existence of my body.

Going into theatre I felt lonely but somehow strong – as two men tried their best to find a vein and give me the good stuff (it took a couple of attempts), I stared at the clinical looking clock in front of me and took a deep breath. I suddenly felt this amazing sense of calm fall over me – that life was going to get a little better each day after this. That no matter how many more sad times I’m inevitably faced with, I’d be able to face them feeling stronger.

Every rejection and heartache would now be less of a sting because I wouldn’t constantly be doubting myself. I wouldn’t constantly feel like I was a little bit less worthy of happiness than every other girl I encountered. I wouldn’t feel pathetic and afraid to be sexual and spontaneous – I wouldn’t be afraid to truly let loose and live as we are meant to, without crippling self doubt and anxiety.

I woke up in recovery feeling sleepy but surprisingly in good spirits – I wasn’t in too much pain, and I can’t explain to you the sense of relief that I was feeling. That I still feel. I feel like I’ve given myself the best Christmas present I could possibly receive – a new beginning, another milestone in my journey to self love. I hobbled out of the hospital and into an uber home wearing a combination of comfortable loungewear and Converse. The sun was shining intensely all the way home (and I kid you not), Oasis – Don’t Look Back In Anger was the first song that came on the radio. I laughed to myself at how ridiculous this moment felt and Sam turned to me and smiled too. It felt like I was finally coming out of this reoccurring nightmare with a good chance that it wouldn’t happen again – or like prising my way out of the upside down for a pop culture/Stranger Things related reference.

I won’t go into all the surgical details of the operation as I’m not even certain I remember exactly what happened myself – I kind of glaze over in these situations and just go into survival mode. I have a follow up appointment in two weeks time, and there might still be a little way to go in terms of being completely healthy, but the surgeon was positive and what needed to be removed/fixed was all able to be done successfully. I was told that having children should be okay in the future, and that once I’m healed, I should feel a huge difference. I’m not going to link information below because everyone’s story is completely different, and I still don’t feel like I have all the facts about my own diagnosis. However, I do want to use my journey to help others in any way that I possibly can, and I’m sure that I’ll figure out a way to do that eventually. Whether that’s training as a therapist in the future, or just continuing to keep the conversation ignited for as long as I’m blogging.

I wasn’t sure if this post would be over-sharing, but I just had this overwhelming feeling of wanting to type out everything out as soon as I got back home – I guess that’s partly the blogger in me and partly me wanting to make peace with what I’d been through. If these words can resonate with anyone, or inspire someone to get help or to keep searching for answers… it will be one of the most important posts that I ever hesitate to click publish for.

I guess I just wanted you all to know that whatever happens in life, whatever dark times you endure – you are worthy of real love, you are worthy of self love, you are worthy of life!

Be gentle with yourself.

Alice x

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82 Comments

  1. You are incredibly brave to share your story.

    I truly hope your surgery was successful and you can enter the New Year a happier you.

    Tara x

  2. So brave of you to share this Alice. I really love your honesty, that’s one reason why I enjoy reading your blog asvyou don’t put up a facade. After meeting you in person, I can say that you’re one of the most genuine people I’ve met through this funny little online industry. Hope you recover soon; have lots of rest and relaxation this week and look after yourself.

    Emma xx
    @fieldandnest
    http://www.fieldandnest.com

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this, it must have been hard. I’m scared to post this reply but it feels important.
    I have never heard of Vaginismus but everything you have said sounds so familiar. I always thought it was my fault, that I was just unable to fully relax and connect with another person, like maybe I’m too cold emotionally, when I know that’s so far from the truth. I used to just get really drunk and so not have to feel it so much and then I would be in so much pain for ages after but I felt like I deserved that. Some partners have said some quite unkind things to me about it in the past which obviously made things worse.
    I am now married and my husband is incredibly understanding but it does make things difficult. We’ve had problems which I always blame myself for, although he never does but the flip side of that is he blames himself. We’ve talked it through endlessly and I think we’ve come to the conclusion that it relates to some fairly traumatic things that happened when I was a very young teenager but I’ve always been too scared to seek any help. I always felt I wasn’t worth it or that I really ought to be able to deal with it myself and I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time, or that it wasn’t important enough. I know if I were advising someone else I would tell them they absolutely deserve to get help. I don’t know anyone else who has been through anything like this, possibly because it just isn’t talked about but it should be. Just writing this reply to your post I have tears in my eyes through relief that it’s not just me.
    Anyway, well done for being so brave and thank you for sharing this hugely comforting story and for highlighting just how important it is. I hope your courage will rub off on me and other women who have problems like this or any others just as difficult to talk about.

    1. I’m so glad it resonated with you in some way – it honestly sounds like you may have a trauma that you haven’t dealt with, Vaginismus could be your bodies way of subconsciously reacting to this. Never feel that you aren’t worthy of being fully healthy and having a normal sex life/functioning body. There’s lots you can read about online but ultimately don’t self diagnose and scare yourself – get properly examined so that you can start your journey to recovery too! I promise you there is light at the end of the tunnel and you’re more resilient than you believe xx

  4. Thank you for writing this. The journey you’ve been on sounds long and arduous, and I’m so glad that you’re finally on the right track. Congratulations! It’s all up from here.

  5. Alice, like you said, these are the words that’ll influence and change people’s lives. I know someone who has the same mental condition, I’m not sure about physical, but when she first told me, I was shocked to hear that she had this issue. But, I was thankful she was able to come to me to speak about it. She doesn’t have anyone should could really share since most people aren’t open about women’s health or sex health, and with people like you, I hope we break down that wall. Thank you.

    1. Thank you! You’re a good friend for just listening to her and not being judgemental – that’s all we need sometimes x

  6. Whilst I can’t relate to your specific circumstances, Be Gentle with Yourself is my new motto. We are all so hard on ourselves, sometimes about the silliest of things. This is such a positive story, thanks so much for sharing it.

  7. I really needed this post today. I’d just written a diary entry about how low my self confidence and self esteem has been the last few months and your simple words ‘be gentle with yourself’ made me cry. It’s mad how things like this post appear just when you need them – a bit like when Oasis came on during your journey home! Thank you for sharing your journey, it was really brave and you definitely reached me so for that I’m grateful!

    1. It’s so funny isn’t it! Things like that don’t happen often, but they are always the things that stand out as being significant somehow. Couldn’t have been a more Manchester song either haha – very fitting. Thank you for taking the time to read and I hope you feel better soon! xx

  8. I’m so glad you wrote this post. I really thought I was the only one suffering this issue. Ive never really been able to talk to family/friends or even doctors since I feel people won’t understand/won’t take it seriously, so thank you for posting this. ❤️❤️❤️

  9. You’re so brave for writing this post. I know it can be hard to open up about things that are so personal. I can really relate to feeling alien in my own skin and how that can affect relationships and sexual health (although for me it was purely because of poor mental health). I think self-care and self-love is sooo important when it comes to mental and physical health. I’m glad you were able to get help and feel at peace with yourself.
    Also, stories like this show that the the NHS needs soo much more funding so that everyone can get the help they deserve!! Xxx

    1. Thank you! And I totally agree – that’s the part I feel sad about and had it not been for this life changing year of blogging then god knows what I would have done. I just want to help others in any way that I can, not feeling alone is half the battle. You have to be mentally strong to even begin to face it head on xxx

  10. What a beautifully honest read! As women we often forget how brave we are, but also how hard we are on ourselves. It’s definitely not an over-share, its totally relatable and I’m sure resonates with all of us girls that have read this post!

  11. Honestly this is one of the most honest and brilliant posts I’ve ever read. Thank You for sharing Alice and I’m sure it was really difficult to do. This journey sounds awful and I’m so glad you’ve come out of it feeling so much better and thank you for reminding me to take care of myself. I’ve been really low in confidence lately and have been reflecting on my struggles over the years and how they keep coming back to haunt me, but I know that I’m worthy of self-love and care – just don’t really think about it a lot of the time!

    Well done for being so brave and good luck with your follow up appointment!

    Daughter of An Air Hostess // Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle

  12. First of all, thank you for opening up about this even though you were nervous to do so. ‘Be gentle with yourself’ is something I’m now going to try and live by. I’ve had times where I myself have felt so unconnected with my body as if it was like you said, sort of alien. I am so glad that you are able to speak out about something that unfortunately still is something that people (including myself) bottle up. You’ve given me a lot of confidence just from reading this post and for that I am thankful!! So glad you’re on the road to recovery, sending you all the good vibes gal! X

    1. I think it’s natural and we are sometimes made to feel that our emotions are embarrassing and that we should have everything under control all the time – sometimes we need to cry and get angry before we can make a positive change. There’s no shame in experiencing emotions and definitely no shame in any part of our bodies – we are all wonderfully different but able to connect in so many amazing ways. Sending lots of love your way xxx

  13. This just hit me like a tonne of bricks. I wish someone was around 5/6 years ago to type it out to me.

    I struggled with vaginismus my whole sexual life. It’s only recently that I’ve been able to move forward after what seemed like forever being told to relax. People telling me I’m just frigid or need to do it myself.

    I can’t tell you how angry and frustrated I’ve been over the years. But It’s really refreshing to find out that i haven’t been alone.

    I guess I’m one of the lucky ones in that I managed to ‘get over’ my mental state. Whatever that was. But it took years of trying.

    I’m so glad you’ve been able to get your own issues sorted yourself. 2018 will be a strong, sassy, SEXY you. 💪🏻

    <3

    1. Haha I love that last sentence so much! So glad it resonated with you and I’m SO glad you got past your own issues – It’s definitely something the internet needs to talk more about. Sending you all the love xxx

  14. AliceCatherine, this is an amazingly beautiful post. You are so right. We as women need to stand up for one another, especially when it’s not easy. I’m over here in the US sending you loads of love. You have so much of your life ahead of you (written as a soon-to-be 44 year old with 3 little girls). Keep on keepin’ on sister!

  15. This was so powerfully moving. You are such an incredible writer and so strong for being able to write about your experience and highlight an issue which is so deeply in the shadows! I hope you are doing okay and that you are recovering well! Lots of luck and I hope that 2018 is as wonderful as you are !

    Erin x

  16. This post is so well written and brave and just what I needed. I too have vaginismus and thought I had something deeply wrong with me for years, I also think my vaginismus is a secondary result of something else. Your post has helped me realise I am not alone and I can continue fighting. Well done Alice x

  17. Hi Alice, I think this is a really brave post to share, I am going through something similar myself and I am yet to find a solution but I am slowly getting there.
    I understand how frustrating it can be and how hopeless it can make you feel but reading this post has made me hopeful towards the future.

    Thank you x

  18. You have been very brave to share it with us, and I firmly feel that issues like those should not be taboo, they’re part of life! Maybe we as women we struggle too hard to be “perfect”… but, when it’s not the case (and it is never the case, none of us is perfect) we tend to feel insecure and inferior to the rest. We should never feel like that, it’s like blaming ourselves for being humans. One big hug from Spain!

  19. Your line about women being superheroes armed with tampons and chocolate made me laugh-cry. Posts like this on the internet remind me of how wide-spread that kind of instant and genuine love and support among women really is. This post brought a lot of calm to me and sparked some optimism which was so needed and comforting. Thank you so much for your bravery in sharing such an intimate and difficult part of your life. I hope everything continues to go well on your journey!

  20. I had never heard of this condition before, but you’re so inspiring and brave to share this with everyone. I hope it can help others who might be experiencing something similiar., and I know even I feel better to have a bit more awareness of this.

    Glad to hear you’re on the mend, and I hope 2018 is the best year for you yet. This was such a beautifully written post xx

  21. I’ve experienced something similar, maybe not so bad, but I’ve always struggled with tampons and always said it hurt and my friends would just laugh at me and say I was doing it wrong – but I knew I wasn’t!! I have a lot of pain in sex too so I’ve never really enjoyed it. A nurse told me it could be vaginismus – I didn’t take it further though cos I was a little embarrassed and thought I should just put up with it, but your post has really made me want to get it sorted. Thanks so much for writing this, it’s beautiful and inspiring, hope everything is on the up for you now!!

  22. Thank you so much for writing this!! I could never use tampons and dismissed this until my boyfriend and I tried to have sex for the first time about a year ago. I physically could not as it hurt so much and I would start hyperventilating every time. I went to the doctor and I was put on a waiting list for eight months. Around six months ago we were finally able to have sex after much coaxing, meditation, and focusing on my self love. I was lucky that mine was more emotional and thus able to be cured without surgery (though that option was explored – and I am so proud of you for dealing with it). Reading this post has honestly brought me to tears as I felt so alone when I was first diagnosed, as I knew no one else struggling with it. Thank you for sharing your story you brilliant woman xxxx

  23. Thank you for this post. I have never commented on a blog in my life but this made me cry (in a good way!) it sounds like something I’ve had all of my life and never have understood why. Your openness has really helped me now try to find my own solution. Thank you so much and I hope you feel better after your operation.

  24. I have never commented on a blog post before, but this is a very brave post and I admire you for it. I am so sorry you had to suffer this- I had similar difficulties with intercourse for years and it completely ruins your self confidence! So glad you sought help and hope you get better soon! 😉

  25. Omg!! I’m sitting here reading your post thinking “this is me”! I cannot believe it’s a “thing” and that there are others out there just like me. My sex life is almost non existent due to th symptoms you’ve explained. I’ve never been able to really ‘enjoy’ sex hard on the fact it has always been so incredibly painful. If I’m honest, I’d always just put it down to my petite frame. Your post has prompted me to arrange a doctors appointment and although it sounds over dramatic, I am SOO grateful for you sharing this incredibly brave story. Thank you!! x

    1. I was made to feel like this also! Booking an appointment is definitely a step in the right direction – everyone’s bodies are different but I hope you can get to the root cause of it and start the correct treatment. You are definitely not alone! All these comments are proof of that xx

  26. i’m a 33 year-old girl (can never refer to myself as woman) and i have a very difficult relationship with my vagina.
    I’ve had issues, it feels, for most of my life.
    My issues are not the same as yours but i get so embarrassed about it. Almost ashamed.
    I’ve been to see a few different nurses and a doctor and have all been so dismissive. Telling me i just has to deal with it.
    But i know its just not right and i’m now considering going down the private route, if not only for peace of mind.

    So thank you to you, for being so brave for posting this, for telling your story.
    It’s so important that we talk about our bodies, in the hope that we won’t always feel this ashamed and embarrassed.
    Thank you alice. I wish you lots of luck and happiness xx

    1. So sorry to hear that you’re struggling – if you are able to get private help then it’s definitely the best money you’ll spend. There really isn’t enough help and we often feel rushed during appointments – I was only examined properly for the first time after six years of being made to feel stupid and paranoid. Truly wish you all the best with your journey! xx

  27. I nearly cried reading this, thank you for writing this post. I too suffer from vaginismus as an effect of vulvodynia, I was diagnosed a few years ago and was incredibly lucky to see a GP who specialised in gynaecology and was referred to a women’s hospital where I was told I could have surgery but chances of it helping were about 50/50 so I was prescribed anaesthetic and a course of psychosexual counselling. Honestly the anaesthetic was the most valuable part. The counselling was very basic and did not even scratch the surface of the emotional effects of vaginismus. Luckily I have a very supportive boyfriend who has helped me over the years to be kinder to myself, not to worry that I’m “different” and we’ve found ways to be intimate that don’t cause me pain. Now that I’m not stressing about it or trying to force myself to do anything, I feel like I’m finally starting to make progress, mentally and physically. It was always difficult because nothing online talked about vaginismus or vulvodynia in anything other than cold medical terms and my friends could only offer generic sympathies. While everyone’s experiemce is different, it’s comforting to hear your story and the stories in th the comments ❤️

    Best of luck with your recovery xxx

    1. I’ve had lots of messages about this condition today too! I feel like they all have the same exhausting mental affect and cause severe body image issues. So happy that you’re with someone who is understanding and you have created a safe environment that works for you. It’s been so nice for me to read all these comments too and feel connected to all your different stories xxx

  28. So refreshing to see a post like this so often conditions such as these are not openly discussed and this is why there is so little research into them and therefore, a lack of available treatments. I’ve spent the last three years having all sorts of treatments for Vulvadynia and subsequently vulval dermatitis which can make sex very uncomfortable. I felt so alone and broken during that time and to see a post like this makes that loneliness seem less real! Best of luck with your recovery x

  29. These stories make you understand people better. That everyone has their own battles that probably don’t show. So it reminds you to try to be kind to others. 🙂 I really wish that your life enters a new, better phase now! Thanks for being brave and sharing! It means a lot to many people.

  30. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I never write comments but your post brought me to tears. I have been struggling with this exact same issue for years and have always thought I was doing something wrong – none of my girlfriends can relate, and are always talking about their amazing, enjoyable experiences. This issue actually resulted in me leaving someone I was mad about, because I couldn’t handle the embarrassment. I have never even considered going to a doctor because I thought if I eventually endured the pain enough times, eventually it would subside (terrible logical, I know). Just the thought of having to explain everything to a doctor is making me cringe, but your story has given me the courage to give it a go. Thank you so much for shedding light on this! Much love, from a fan in New Zealand 🙂

  31. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Alice. I had never previously heard of this condition but I am sure there are hundreds of women out there experiencing the same symptoms, who won’t have heard of this , either, and are still wondering what is wrong with them. Vaginal health isn’t spoken about enough, so thank you for providing a space where us women can feel heard and understood x

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read and engage despite not suffering with it – the world definitely needs more of this! xx

  32. Oh Alice you have no idea how much this has meant to me reading this today. I have been struggling for the past 2 years with this condition. I also have a lovely boyfriend who is ever so patient. I went through a spate of having urine infections(about 10 in one year) and I think it all stems from this as there was never a problem down there before. I was in a lot of pain all the time because of the infections and I think its my bodies way of trying to protect me. It just shuts down completely whenever my boyfriend comes near me. After countless doctors appointments and examinations I am continuing to try and get the help to hopefully overcome what is wrong. I have even thought about hypnosis as I think mine is definitely a mental problem as opposed to a physical one. I wish you a speedy recovery and a wonderful Christmas and New Year. Here is to a fantastic 2018. Lots of Love Cx

    1. Aww I’m so glad it could help you in some way and I’m so sorry you’ve had to suffer with it – it’s definitely such an alienating thing to grow up with. I hope you manage to get examined properly and seek the treatment that you deserve to get better, don’t give up! Lots of love xxx

  33. Hello Alice – just wanted to say thank you for sharing. My youngest sister (17 now) had a similar condition and she struggled to use tampons; eventually my mum sought help from the GP and she was referred to a gynaecologist on the NHS. They removed the fused hymen surgically as they were worried, because it was only partially open and build ups could occur during her period. I think you made the right decision to go private; like you, I completely believe in the NHS but think the staff are so stretched and money so tight that we often don’t receive the right referrals and sit on waiting lists for a long time. Hopefully we can remove the stigma around these issues so that young women like you and my sister, and all our daughters after us, can feel a little more confident in getting things sorted! You write so articulately and I really got emotional reading this. All my best wishes to you and Sam and have a Merry Christmas 🙂 xx

    1. Thank you! Totally agree with you – the NHS are incredible but stretched and not always able to give the time for examination that these things require. I hope your sister managed to get treatment and I hope you all have the best Christmas too! xxx

  34. Thank you for sharing. This was an incredibly brave & inspiring read for me. Something I might not necessarily have expected to read on this blog, but which has greatly enriched it.

    I’m also encouraged by your journey generally as an aspiring life coach who is currently building my own “corporate escape plan”. The fact you have achieved success in forging a creative career on your own terms, that you love & you’re totally passionate about, is inspirational to me.

    Absolutely love your blog & Insta, even more so now that you have been brave enough to show your readership a glimpse of your true authentic self. Also totally feeling the high vibes & love emanating from the response to your post. Women supporting women how it should be ….so positive.

    Wishing you a quick recovery & onwards & upwards for you Alice.

    Jennifer xx

  35. Thank you for posting. I’m currently struggling with my health as well and it was nice to hear about somebody else who was once afraid to heal, but became strong enough to embrace it. I agree that mental health is not just about lighting the 100 fucking aromatherapy candles or just “fixing It.” It’s a long hard journey and I’m really happy to have read yours. Be well and may all of us women with health to mend be well too. Xx

    1. Thank you! So glad it made you feel better if only for a little while – so sorry to hear that you’re struggling and I really hope you find a way to move forward and be happy. Sending you all the well wishes xx

  36. Alice, you are absolutely incredible. Thank you so much for sharing, to be honest, I had no idea this was an issue that women faced and I’m so glad you brought awareness to it. I’m so happy that you took the step to get yourself better and encourage others. You become more and more admirable each day. I wish nothing but the best for you, much love xx.

  37. You should feel so proud of yourself for sharing this, and all that you’ve achieved. Your voice is a truly authentic one within the blogging world, and that is no small feat. Thank you for using it in an attempt to eradicate the stigma that women face in talking about their mental, physical and sexual health. Sometimes being honest with ourselves and allowing candid conversation feels impossible in a world that only shows a glossy veneer of others’ lives but posts like this do a world of good. Wishing you all of the best for a speedy recovery and brighter future x

    1. Thank you! It definitely feels good to finally share a huge part of my life (no matter how personal) and have everything finally move forward. I definitely don’t want to come across like I have everything figured out – feel very lucky to have such supportive readers! xx

  38. Thank you so much for sharing such an honest post. We are taught so so little about our own bodies and are left struggling to figure them out by ourselves, which sometimes feels impossible as there are so many obstacles in the way. I have so much admiration for those who like yourself are sharing candid stories in order to break the stigma surrounding women’s health. Wishing you a speedy recovery and a wonderful 2018! Much love and admiration, Summer x

  39. What an amazing post. I’ve struggled for years with different problems, but of a similar nature.
    I’ve still in the process of getting to the bottom of all that’s been going on… and I honestly believe women talking to each other openly is so incredibly important.
    I think the more dialogue going on and awareness raised, the more these ‘mysterious’ female issues will be looked at, have clinical studies, and be taken more seriously.
    I can empathise incredibly strongly with the emotional journey you’ve been on. I am so glad that you’ve found a light at the end of the tunnel. Much love x

    1. You’re so right! We would all struggle a little less if we felt less alone and less alienated – I hope you get the treatment you deserve too! xx

  40. Thank you so much for sharing this, such an inspirational story and I’m sure you have helped so many others on their own journey! Good luck with your recovery.

    Rebecca x

  41. This post was so refreshingly honest! After having gone through similar problems it’s so reassuring to hear I wasn’t alone! Thank you for being brave and talking about this! I hope you have a speedy recovery! X

  42. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, your story. For that and for this journey of yours, I found you very strong. I’m really happy for you that everything is much better now.
    Thank your for being so honest on your blog, this is really something I love about your blog, not just pretty picture of pretty outfit (which I’m also in love by the way).

    xx

  43. That was an absolutely great read, thank you so much Alice!
    It made me realise a lot about myself and I think I’ll try to seek help as well..
    I totally get that feeling of feeling alone, and I don’t feel like such a freak anymore, so thank you for sharing, I had no idea there’s even a condition like that…

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