Monday, August 8, 2011


Let me preface this post by saying that my husband is very patient, loving, and supportive. I know this and am appreciative of him everyday and tell him so.


One of my biggest pet peeves as related to all this stuff is when a practitioner - especially one I don't really know - says, "Your husband must be very patient." This happened to me today when I saw an ob-gyn for the first time. I almost said, "I'm very patient, too," but instead I just rolled my eyes while she was writing in my chart and said, "He is."

What this implies is that there's something wrong with me and that I'm lucky to have someone that puts up with me. What it doesn't imply is that we each have our own issues and we support each other equally - it's not one sided.

I know that this statement is meant as a compliment, but it's insensitive. What if my husband wasn't patient and we were having problems because of it? If I haven't divulged anything about him, please please please don't say this, all you doctors out there. It just undermines all the progress that I've made against this idea that I'm broken or not a real woman or that I need someone to take care of me. I might be overreacting, but this statement has been said to me so many times and I'm really tired of being polite and nodding along while inside I'm pissed off.

My friends and I have joked about writing a book that chronicles the unbelievable things that health care professionals have said to us in our quest for healing. It would be meant as a kind of handbook for doctors for what not to say when treating someone with vulvar pain. Now... this statement is one of the more benign ones we've heard, but it would still make the list.

What say you guys? Any doozies that professionals have said to you that left you speechless and seething?


  1. One of my biggest pet peeves as well. Also the variation of a wide-eyed "really?" as in really, he stays with you anyway?! followed by "woooow."

    I think it's particularly psychologically damaging because it reinforces this weird cultural thing where men are "supposed" to want sex and women are "supposed" not to want it and just to put up with it when we have to, like those of us with vaginismus and related problems got some kind of get out of jail free card.

    At my most recent pelvic exam, the practitioner had to be reassured (by me) several times that my tears (etc) were not about her personally in some way, even though I explained what was up.

    What do you think would be the reaction if you pointed out in the moment that the comment wasn't nice? It would certainly be awkward... but maybe worth it for the dr to think before saying it to the next person.

  2. Good points! And that's a really good suggestion - I should point it out the next time someone says something insensitive. When at a loss for something to say, why not, "that must be really difficult for you"?

  3. I feel ya on this post! Everybody will say what a great husband I have that he has stayed with me and hasn't left me...and I am thinking it is great that I haven't left and that I am enduring all of this as well! It's humorous for the most part- but a deeper part of it is just plain annoying.

  4. Oh I've had "He's so patient" "You're so lucky" all of them. The thing is, I am, my last boyfriend acted like I was making it up, the old "not now dear, I have a headache" routine. My fiance is wonderfully supportive, but my doctors just aren't. They don't know what to do so they say "well there are options and it's up to you what you want to do" the thing is I'm scared and embarrassed so I just want them to say "here's what we can do" and then give me something to start with.

    I dunno I'm rambling.

    They always say not to give up on intimacy but it's scary and it hurts and I want a normal sex life and to not feel so broken and wrong and not like a real woman. I want my doctor to not make a comment like my partner is only after sex, that maybe he's with me because he loves me and is happy to wait.

    It is getting better though, at one point I couldn't use tampons or use fingers when masturbating and my fiance most certainly couldn't use fingers during oral sex. Now I can use fingers and my fiance (as long as I'm nice and aroused) can use two fingers which feels amazing. We still can't have full on sex but it's getting better.

    I just wish I could get some proper help instead of being fobbed off with embarrassed medical examiners.

  5. I always get "your husband must be really patient" if I'm a puppy or a child that had an accident. I had a doctor try to do a pelvic exam on hurt so badly I told her to stop. when she pulled out the spectrum she yanked so hard that it tore me..she then threw a pad at me and said "this is all I have since you wont be able to use the tampon" I'm sorry..its absolutely amazing to me.

  6. I totally understand! I think the hardest thing for me was when being diagnosed all the doctors told me that pain during sex was normal at first and told me to take hot baths. No one believed me that it was unnatural! The book is a great idea, as long as they would read it!

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  8. Thank you so much, I've just found your blog and so glad to see I'm not the only one! I used to love sex! Whenever "they" comment on my husband's patience I just think "what about me?!" I've felt broken, not a real woman, like my sexuality has been removed. I want to have sex, I want to have kids! Just because I'm female doesn't mean I hate sex and some how I'm just trying to get rid of vaginismus to make my husband happy!

    I'm so sorry to you all who have had such rubbish doctors, especially those who don't take you seriously.

  9. Reading your blog brought tears to my eyes, just remebering every pysician I had seen every look I had gotten, just thinking doesn't anyone out there feel this misery. Then I met a OB/GYN who knew what she was talking about, she referred me to Julie Sarton for Pelvic Floor Physical therapy. I have seen both Julie and Nicole " I have a future again" I haven't felt this relief in what seems like forever.

  10. As a professional who treats women with vaginismus, I have to say that I'm shocked that some people can be so insensitive.

    I have never imagined uttering such words to a patient. It goes against what I was trained to do which is to help people, never bring them down or cause them greater anxiety.

  11. These comments are a good reminder to me to write a post about all the wonderful practitioners I've encountered! It's normal for me to gravitate toward the negative when I write a post because this is a good outlet for me, but it's important to share the positive, too. Thank you!

  12. I cannot explain how helpful this post was for me... It put words to something I've had so much trouble explaining and understanding over the past few years. I have not had practitioners say this to me, however, I have had friends that have said things like this. Like you said, I know it's supposed to be meant as a compliment but it is anything but. It makes me feel like I am broken and all I have to offer my partner is sex, so I'm lucky that someone is willing to put up with me while I heal and work through this. Incredibly insensitive and I find myself, like you described, nodding along each and every time. Agreeing with what they're saying and swallowing my words. Reading this has encouraged me to speak up for myself in these situations. Beyond that, this disorder can be so isolating and it's difficult to know that most people have no idea what you're experiencing and reading this reminded me that there are others who feel similarly, who are working through the same things that I am.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! :)

  13. Just say. Yes my husband is very good but I am also good.
    The reason you don't say anything,perhaps deep down inside you feel the same as they said. You are angry at yourself not the practioner.

    1. I really appreciate your feedback. I totally have issues to work on (obviously!). Do you have vulvodynia? I'd love to hear any tips you have for working through this kind of thing.

  14. Just came across your blog.

    This post is spot on. I always tell my husband how wonderful he is and I often tell my two girlfriends who know about my vaginismus about how great he is...but I don't think I could take it the opposite. Yes I know he is patient but I could not handle someone saying that out loud - to hear the implication that there is something wrong with me, that I don't "deserve" to have him stay with me.

    You are so right...we are patient too. I'm so blessed to have a husband who reminds me how strong I am for working at this. Thank goodness for that affirmation because its heartbreaking to think of it from the perspective of ignorant people out there.

  15. I have no insurance so I went to planned parenthood for this yesterday. I told the PA about my problem. She tried to give me a pelvic exam but it was searing pain. She seemed dumbfounded and this look pity on her face. Then she said -- I guess not knowing what else to say -- "Well, ... come back when you're ready."