Alice Catherine Alice Catherine

Last year I bit the bullet and wrote pretty frankly about a health issue that I’d been suffering in silence with for years. I wasn’t prepared for the response – so many of you got in touch, and opened up to me about your own stories. It was truly heartwarming, and made me (and a lot of others) feel way less alone. I thought I’d catch up with you in terms of my health, and make this post a little more informative than the last one. I feel as though my last post only really touched the surface, and I just wanted to leave some useful information here for anyone who might need it…

Truth be told, I expected to feel a lot different after the procedure was over – I expected to feel lighter somehow. In reality, after a few hours of feeling euphoric (I was high on aesthetic) I was suddenly hit with this crushing anxiety. So what now?

Although the internal issues had pretty much been eradicated, my mental state still had a lot of catching up to do. I felt like I needed to get to know my body again, to be kind to it, and to not be defeatist. Post operation, I tried to be gentle with myself, and not push myself to do too much work wise. However, December is always a very busy time, and I found it hard to sit at home and watch everyone else having fun. Negative feelings are always heightened around Christmas time – the fairy lights and the endless Christmas cheer just contradict the way you feel inside sometimes. It’s was tough, and in all honesty, I was kind of relieved to have Christmas and New Year over and done with. I didn’t want to keep feeling like I owed everyone around me a happy/jolly version of myself – I just wanted to allow myself to process what I’d been through, and start the New Year with a clean slate…

I’m still very much dealing with Vaginismus on a weekly basis – I’m a naturally anxious person, so it’s hard to try and be less aware of my body and mind, when I’ve always been someone who is extremely self conscious. Yes, it’s a relief to know that I’m healthy internally, but that’s not to say that everything is now fixed and back to normal. There are so many different levels of Vaginismus, and some people are more easily treated than others. Personally, I have decided to give myself a few months of recovery and appointments to see if it gradually goes away – If this doesn’t work, I’m going to explore Cognitive Behavioural therapy, and perhaps even botox. Although I don’t think botox is available on the NHS (yet), I have read quite a few success stories in my years of digging around the internet for advice. This one for instance, so much of what she writes resonates with me – particularly: ‘when I felt at my lowest, I used to tell my boyfriend he should leave me because I couldn’t give him what he wanted, and I really meant it. I even offered for him to have sex with other people and just not to tell me about it. I genuinely meant that, too.’ It makes me so sad that an illness can be so isolating that it makes you forget your own self worth. I have never even considered botox in my face, so to have in my pelvic muscles seems quite bizarre. I only wanted to mention this a potential option that I have been told about by health care professionals, so please please please, never go ahead with anything without always getting all the facts beforehand. Everyone is different, and everyones treatment process will be different too. Some Doctors will steer you away from certain methods of treatment, and others will be more open about discussing them with you. Sometimes, just to discuss an option and know that it’s a possibility can help you mentally – it doesn’t always mean that you will have to go ahead with it as a last resort. 

It’s difficult for anyone to deal with a health issue that there’s not much help for – especially one that not many people really understand – I often think had I lived in olden times, I’d have been locked in a tower somewhere and written off as a ‘cursed woman’. I started to think about how many women must have suffered with themselves in silence over the decades, and it made me feel sad. Had I been born in a different time, I definitely wouldn’t have got the help or understanding that I’ve experienced in the last year. Yes, I had to seek it out for myself – but the help was there, almost like it was waiting for the right time in my life. I just had to be strong enough to want to find the right people – this is the main message I wanted to get out there throughout this post. The help is always there if you’re willing to look hard enough. You’re illness might fight against you and make you lose hope, but there’s always progress that can be made. You just have to believe it in enough…

After I was fully healed from the operation – the next step was to address my mental fears. I think this is something that will take a while, and I don’t want to put pressure on myself to have everything figured out. Sex is rarely like the movies – you rarely see people bang heads, say they feel too sad, or stare blankly up at the ceiling asking if they are normal…

So many female issues go unspoken about – when as a society, will we stop being embarrassed for being made up of lots of tiny wonderful parts? Parts that can all come with their own endless list of health issues. We must speak loudly and unapologetically about things that are deemed traditionally embarrassing or private – it’s the only way to help others in need. It’s the only way that a sixteen year old girl might identify with something and not develop body dysmorphia that will affect her for the rest of her life. Speak if something hurts or doesn’t feel right – even if it’s a Doctor that’s examining you, don’t feel as though you need to traumatise yourself just to get answers. I did this for years, and constantly came away feeling worthless and deflated. A good Doctor will take their time and be gentle with you – this is why I decided to book myself into a private practice that specialised in gynaecology. There are still so many Doctors who aren’t knowledgable about Vaginismus and other female conditions – don’t let this dishearten you or make you feel alien. It’s a systemic issue that’s been around since beginning of time – women’s pain still isn’t recognised by the healthcare industry in the way it should be. I mean, every women who’s ever found herself experiencing a painful period will recognise this on some level – you just don’t get treated like it’s important, you’re laughed at for wanting leave work early, or you’re told that ‘everyone has them’ and you should probably toughen up. 

Ultimately, we have to speak up about things that make us uncomfortable. So what if it’s ‘TMI’ or ‘kind of gross’ – the only things that’s repulsive to me is the stance that ‘certain topics have a time and a place’. That women should discuss periods etc in the comfort of their own homes – or just text their girlfriends, or seek discreet online forums. Fuck that. And also, fuck the small percentage of men that voted on my Instagram poll nudging me not to write this post. You are part of the problem – try to be better.

Talk in bars, talk at dinner, talk whenever the topic arises or the mood strikes. Educate the females around you – educate the men too. The compassion and understanding has to form in equal measures, from both genders, in order to cause a significant shift in the social stigmas attached to sexual issues. I have faith that 2018 is already shaping up to be a year of speaking up, and I’m proud to be a part of that…

Alice x

Read my original post here if you didn’t catch it the first time round!


About vaginismus: NHS Definition & Symptoms | Living with Vaginismus 

Private Gynaecologist care in Manchester: MyGynaec (I saw Dr Sivaraman)

Self help books & Dilator kits that could be helpful to some (everyone is different)

Botox procedures for Vaginismus: Information here & here

London based Gynaecology Practice

Independent Article on sexist stereotypes/ignoring women’s pain

Rowan Ellis talking about Vaginismus (so informative) | Melanie Murphy Talking about Vaginismus

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  1. Layla says:

    This is wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing your experience.

    1. alicecatherine says:

      Thank you for reading! xx

  2. Kat says:

    You are a strong and courageous woman for facing all of this head on and taking charge of your own well being. Thank you for sharing, you have inspired me immensely. Also, if you haven’y tried counseling before I highly recommend it 🙂

    1. alicecatherine says:

      Thank you! I have tried it a couple of times but I think finding the right counsellor is key – i’ve wasted a fair few hours with people who I didn’t think really understood me, but I’m definitely not opposed to it in the future 🙂 xx

  3. Jeanne says:

    Alice Catherine, I cannot recall if I commented on your first post about this issue, but all the way across the pond, I wanted to merely stop in and say “Good on ya” for speaking your truth. This world needs more women who are unashamed to speak up and speak out. As a mother to three girls, I have to make sure I can give them all the tools they need to be confident in themselves. Thank you for being YOU!

    1. alicecatherine says:

      Thank you! You sound like an amazing mum so I’m sure the confidence is already within them xx

  4. Love your sweater and jeans! x

  5. Anna says:

    What a wonderfully brave post, well done you Agree 100% with the last 2 paragraphs. Xx p.s. I saw you in Manchester not long ago and was too shy to say but I love your style and photography!

  6. Holly White says:

    I adore your honesty Alice. Not that I was dealing with a similar situation to you, but I was also so glad to see Christmas and New year over and done with. It’s a time of year we’re meant to be all happy and jolly and I just wanted to rest and do nothing too!!

    I hope you get to feel at peace with things soon <3

  7. Very well said. I applaud you for your bravery and for putting this information out there. You are absolutely right- we ALL need to talk about these issues more, so give yourself a pat on the back for starting an important conversation and helping others, whoever they may be. I hope everything works out for you xx

    1. alicecatherine says:

      Thank you so much! xx

  8. Zoe says:

    A friend directed me to your blog post, I’ve suffered in silence with this condition for years. I tried a sex therapist a couple of years ago and got disheartened and thought it was something I’d have to live with. You being so open about this issue that never seems to be discussed in the mainstream – in our sex obsessed culture – has given me hope. I don’t have access to the NHS but I am going to start working on myself again and do some more research, and believe that I am worth it and not a freak of nature. Thank you! (Not sure if you used to be on LJ but I thought I recognised you)

    1. alicecatherine says:

      Aww I’m so glad I could have helped you feel less alone in someway – that’s really the only motivation for writing these kind of scary posts in the first place. Definitely don’t give up hope and feel free to email/message me if you want any advice xx

  9. I SO agree with the part where you say we need to talk about it! Women have been shamed for centuries just for having their period, called “hysteric” when they suffered depression, judged upon every step of the way. It is more than time to talk freely about our bodies and what happens in them, with no fear of judgement or disapproval. Our bodies are beautiful, they carry can get through a amazing lot of things (like, duh, pregnancy). This is Nature’s work and we ought to own it!

    Wishing you a lot of courage fighting this and thank you for your lovely blog that continuously inspires me!

    1. alicecatherine says:

      Totally agree! And thank you for leaving such a supportive comment xx

  10. Summer Read says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I completely agree that we should be having these discussions – how else are we supposed to understand, relate or discuss? We are taught sooo little about our own bodies, it’s no wonder so many women feel alone or embarrassed about discussing their health (both physical and mental). If anything we should be encouraging this. Wishing you all the best for this year lovely! x


  11. Anna says:

    I’m so happy to have discovered your blog and Instagram recently! It’s as if I was meant to read this. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I’m not affected by the same ailment, but I know the feeling of having something “wrong” and feeling like the only one in the world who deals with it. Your story is giving me hope that I might find more answers soon regarding my issues. <3

    1. alicecatherine says:

      Thank you so much – don’t give up, I promise it gets better (even if it’s a slow progress) xx

  12. Eva says:

    It’s just so great to see a post like that, and I agree with you so much. I’m very lucky to have a very open boyfriend who always ask question or always listen to me when I talk about women issues. Why can all men be like this ? Our body and our problems are not disgusting, they’re not only OUR problem but more the society’s.

    I hope you will get even better and keep going to talk about serious (or not) things on your blog. You touch people, and I love that of you.


    1. alicecatherine says:

      Thank you so much – this was really lovely to read, and I totally agree with everything you’ve said xx

  13. EstelleDrea says:

    Thank you so much for speaking about this ! It’s so hard to feel lonely when you ask your closest girlfriends and they answer that “no it never happened to me” or the doctors that are like “yeah that’s normal” or “it’s gonna be ok”. The part staring at the ceiling asking yourself if you are normal resonates with me so deeply.


    1. alicecatherine says:

      Thank you for leaving such a sweet comment! Really makes it all worthwhile, and I hope you manage to get the treatment/support that you need xxx

  14. Katy says:

    I just read your original post and this one and I actually feel so happy for you, you are so brave for speaking out about this. Hope 2018 brings wonderful things your way!

    1. alicecatherine says:

      Thank you so much! Means a lot xx

  15. Jennifer Riley says:


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