How I, Jacqueline van de Bilt, overcame my vaginismus
Discovering that I couldn't allow a tampon, a finger, or a penis
When I was about 15 years old, I discoverd that I couldn't insert a tampon. Later, when I tried to insert a finger or a penis into my vagina, I bumped into something, and the finger or penis couldn't go any further. Nothing could go into my vagina. It felt completely closed. I couldn't even insert a cotton swab. You might think that something bad must have happened in my life, but that is not the case. Over the years, I started to like having sex more and more. I was able to get aroused, and have an orgasm. Though inserting a finger or a penis into my vagina, was impossible. I was very firm about this towards boyfriends, and like me, they considered it a given, and they respected it.
I felt very alone with this problem. I was very ashamed. No one I knew was having the same problem. I thought that everyone was able to have intercourse, except for me. I didn't feel complete or normal, as a woman, and I felt inadequate towards boyfriends. I tried to compensate this with other sexual acts. I felt like I had to excel at this.
Not just one, but several causes
My vaginismus didn't just have one cause. Little knowledge, shame, and having trouble relaxing the area around the pelvic floor was all part of it. For example, I thought my vagina was sort of an open hole a finger or a penis would easily fit into. When this wasn't the case, I thought something was seriously wrong with me.
Recognition and acknowledgement
The first time I talked to other women with vaginismus, I felt such relief and recognition. I finally didn't feel like the only 'abnormal woman'. I was surprised how much fun, how normal, and how well educated these women were.
Many different therapists
I felt very strongly about wanting to get rid of my vaginismus. I wanted to be normal. I would do anything to achieve that. I went to see many different therapists, focused on my self-confidence, on body awareness, relaxation, knowledge of the body and intercourse. And I was in a therapeutic group with other women with vaginismus. This help made me gain more self-confidence, I became more familiar with my body and genitals, I became more aware of the tension in my body, I learned how to relax my body, and I gained some practical knowledge about intercourse. All this made me more confident, but I still couldn't allow a penis. After trying many times, I did manage to insert a finger.
Intimate explanation from a friend
After that, my friends helped me a great deal. I started to ask them a lot of intimate questions. I gained a lot of knowledge, which made me try out different things. Because of this, I learned more about inserting a penis. Each time it didn't work, it felt like failure. But when a step did succeed, it felt great.
Together with my boyfriend
I spent years trying to find the cause. To be honest, this has only helped me a little. What helped me much more, was focusing on what I needed to open up, psychologically as well as physically. With a lot of love, care, and perseverance, I managed to insert a penis, step by step. During this phase, my boyfriend was very important and helpful. His trust, calmness, and perseverance made sure I wanted to try things again and again. As a result, I was able to enjoy having intercourse.
Eye-opener for myself and others
After I had overcome my vaginismus, I met other women with vaginismus in the self-help group for vaginismus at that time. I gave those women tips about things that had helped me. One of these women then asked if I wanted to coach women myself. She liked my approach and my practical tips very much, and she found them very helpful. When I started thinking about that, I realized how difficult my own search for help had been. I often felt misunderstood by therapists. All those different approaches didn't really "open me up". They were long conversations, not even about vaginismus a lot of the time, but all kinds of side tracks. It often made me feel despondent.
Specialized in coaching regarding vaginismus and pain during sex
That's why, in 2006, I decided to start coaching women with vaginismus. In the past couple of years, I developed my own method. The beauty of it is that the combination of my method and my approach makes women actually try out different things, and they gain wonderful results. This was exactly what I had in mind. Nowadays, my coaching is no longer based on my own experience. It is now a combination of coaching experience, my personality, my knowledge, and my approach. The fact that I overcame my own vaginismus is a huge advantage, because it makes it easier for me to empathize with and support the women I coach.
More about Jacqueline
Want to see and hear more about my experience with overcoming vaginismus, my coaching experience, and the contents of my book "How to overcome vaginismus"? My book presentation has been recorded on video. In short, I talk about my journey towards overcoming vaginismus, my coaching experiences, and the contents of my book.
Frequently, as an experience expert and professional, I've been asked to answer questions in the media, regarding vaginismus and pain during sex. I am very open about this. Read and watch the different articles and tv shows.