What is Vaginismus?

Vaginismus is defined as involuntary muscle spasms involving the superficial pelvic floor muscles that typically cause painful entry, limiting or preventing intercourse, tampon insertion or pelvic exams. Many women will also describe "a wall" that limits penetration, that may or may not be painful.

See http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaginismus/Pages/Introduction.aspx for more information.

What Some of Heather's Patients Have to Say:

Femina PT (née Fusion Wellness & Physical Therapy) has been such an answer to prayer, i'm so glad I found them! I've been struggling with vaginismus my whole life, but didn't have a name for it until about 6 or 7 months ago. Even once I did have a name for it though, I didn't know where to begin in getting help. My OB/GYN had me get a set of dilators, but I couldn't even insert the smallest one by myself. Most times I tried I just ended up frustrated and in tears. I felt really alone, like I was broken and didn't have the energy to keep trying. When I got engaged a few months ago though, I realized I needed to get answers so i wasn't dreading my honeymoon.

It took a while to get insurance to approved treatment, but it was so worth the work! In just a month of meeting with my PT, Lacey, I have made incredible process! I'm finally feeling like I understand my body and with the guidance of my sessions I now have a system in place for how I can work on my health in my own time.  I'm already half way through the dilators set and can finally use Tampons for the first time in my life. I feel so empowered, educated, and I am seeing measurable change and progress. It takes work, but it has been so worth it and none of it would have been possible without Lacey and the whole staff at Fusion! Thank you so so much!!!
-- Lauren B., 7/21/17 via Yelp!
I wish i could give this place 10 stars!!  I have been suffering from vaginismus for 5 years and never found the cure to it. I had seen an ob/gyn and he diagnosed me with vaginismus and told me i needed a surgery to cure my condition,  which i refused to do. He also referred me to a PT that he works with, i had given them multiple calls and they never responded back to me, so i started searching yelp for another PT. I am SO HAPPY I found Heather's office! I was working with Laureen, and with her guidance and techniques i was able to be cured from vaginismus in only 2 1/2 short months!!! I couldn't believe how quickly their program worked for me! I am forever grateful and thankful from Heather, and Laureen! They are the absolute best at what they do!

Heather is so amazing, before i even made my first appointment i was emailing her back and forth and she would always be so efficient is answering all my questions and i wasn't even a patient there yet! I would always call the front office and ask questions and Margaret would always be so kind and friendly! Everyone in this office is so professional and kind, i never once felt uncomfortable going in there! This office is the only office i have ever stepped foot in and never felt like they were all about money, they are the only office who truly cares about their patients! They are so educated in their field, and i will always be grateful for their office for helping me!!
-- Ann V., 8/23/17 via Yelp!
Heather's unique physical therapy program literally changed my life! After years of struggling with vaginismus, a condition that made it impossible for me to have intercourse and very difficult to use tampons without pain, a gynecologist referred me to Heather. I was nervous for my first appointment, but Heather's professional and friendly demeanor put me at ease. She did a great job explaining each technique she was using to help my muscles relax. Heather uses a combination of internal and external stretches and exercises to relax the pelvic floor and build muscle strength. Her specially developed home program helped me quickly recover from an issue that seemed insurmountable before meeting Heather. She was optimistic about my progress and incredibly encouraging. Less than 6 months after my first session, I was able to have pain-free sex for the first time in my life! If you are suffering from vaginismus or any other pelvic floor issues, I highly recommend making an appointment with Heather and reading her book!
-- Amanda W., 2/15/16 via Yelp!
Heather has affected my life in the MOST POSITIVE way and I am forever grateful.  My husband refers to her as the "sex doctor" so you can only imagine how happy he is with my therapy outcome.  

After the birth of my son I suffered from "Vaginismus", however, at the time I just thought I was broken. My "broken vagina" affected me physically but it was an emotional struggle as well. Many women in my life also suffered with pain from sex after their babies were born so I knew I wasn't alone.  They told me they "just got used to it" but I couldn't see myself living that way.  

Sex wasn't just painful, it was literally impossible - IT DIDNT FIT!

Luckily I have a brilliant and "with the times" OB who referred me to Heather and the rest is history. Heather is professional, gentle, caring, informative, sincere and loving.  She fixed me, She is my hero!  Heather's staff is also warm, welcoming and informative.  I love this team dearly.  I was only sad when I reached my goals and my therapy was over.
-- Rosanna R., age 35

A personal journey and testimonial from one of my patients:

I was diagnosed with vaginismus 4 years ago. I never heard of such medical condition until after I got married. At first my husband and I didn't know what to do, we didn't know what the issues were or how to overcome it. Being born and raised in Armenia and being Christian I wasn't that open about talking to sex with others and so it wasn't easy to seek help. But eventually I went to an Ob-Gyn and luckily she knew about the medical condition (not many doctors know). She referred me to a physical therapist and I couldn't believe it and thought it's something I can handle myself. I ordered a kit from vaginismus.com and started practicing with dilators. There was some small progress but wasn't much helpful.

Luckily, my husband has been very caring and supportive and my medical condition didn't affect our relationship. However, it did affect me greatly. I lost my confidence as a woman, as a professional and entered a state of mind where I believe I'm worthless and not good for anything.

Not being able to give and take love, to share intimacy with a loved one can hurt a lot more than anything else. Constant depression, stress and all that affected me deeply and I didn't find the strength to look for help. So we decided to live like that.

About a year ago I found a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor muscles. I went to see her for about 3 months, 3 times a week. We made a huge progress. I overcame the fear and was able to have sex. However it was still painful. And so I didn't have much desire for sex. This progress was encouraging and I put my acts together thinking there is a cure. I also found Joyce and Cliff Penner, who specialize in Vaginismus. However, they, like most of these type of specialist, don't take insurance and the treatment can be very expensive. So I couldn't afford a treatment with them. One day I received an email from them inviting us to join a Vaginismus support group. My husband and I went and we met with other couples who had the same issue. We felt we were not alone and there were other couples struggling with the same problem as we did.

The best part of the meeting was we met with Heather. The first thing I asked was if she takes insurance or no and luckily she does have such options. So I decided to go to her for a treatment. When I first went to her I thought all I needed is to somehow increase my sexual desire, however after a few sessions I realized that sex can actually be painfree! This is something I couldn't even dream of. I saw her for 5 sessions only and I am absolutely pain free! She did some magic and after only 5 sessions and extensive practicing at home I was able to enjoy sex. With time I noticed my desire increases, too. I can't say enough thank you to Heather for bringing me back to life and making me believe that this is just a muscle and all it needs is some physical therapy. As someone who tried another therapist and has someone to compare Heather with I can tell she is the best choice for treating vaginismus. She knows what she is doing, she is very friendly and cares about the patients. Over these 5 sessions I felt like I was going to see a friend and not a therapist. Not everyone can understand our situation and show the care we needed. But Heather does and so I would highly recommend her!
-- M.N., age 28
My husband and I were married for 5 years before we were able to have intercourse due to my vaginismus. There was nothing traumatic in my past but for some reason, even though I wanted sex, I mentally avoided "that area" of my body and didn't even admit to myself that there was a problem for a long time, even though I was never able to put tampons in. Once I finally opened my eyes up to the fact that I had a problem, I had a surgery that was supposed to fix the issue.

It allowed me to put small tampons in but intercourse was still impossible and very far out of reach. Eventually I connected with Heather for physical therapy and was able to start making real progress. Heather made me feel very comfortable in that awkward environment. She taught me that I basically had "knots" built up, just as you would get a "knot" in your neck, and that they had to be worked out by applying pressure regularly. It took me about 3 months from starting the physical therapy until we were able to have intercourse for the first time. I had physical therapy sessions 3 times a week, which helped me overcome it quicker. Sex therapy sessions with Joyce Penner, along with her book "Restoring the Pleasure," were also very helpful during that time period. The book contained sexual exercises that helped take the pressure off of sex so that we could just enjoy each other's bodies without that frustrating aspect hanging over our heads.

Vaginismus.com also provided a support group where I could chat with others dealing with the same issue, and helped me realize I wasn't alone. Once we were able to have sex, it still was tight and a little painful, and it took awhile to completely get better, but over a couple years it got better and better. It's not an issue at all anymore. We now have 2 little boys and are enjoying the sexual aspect of our marriage in a way that I never thought I would. My advice to someone going through this therapy would be to just never give up faith and hope that you can overcome it, because it IS possible, and the outcome is definitely worth all that discomfort and frustration!
– M.M.
I would like to start off by thanking Heather Jeffcoat for educating me and curing me of Vaginismus. I had been married for almost three years before I was referred to Heather. I never knew about Vaginismus until almost three years into my marriage. I knew something was wrong when I went on my honeymoon and came back a Virgin. I had always imagined how magical my first night would be but boy was I wrong.

At that point I thought maybe I was too tight and over time I will be able to have intercourse. Over the years I began to live a lie acting like I had a normal sex life and whenever I was asked about kids my immediate response was we were not ready. Well how could I have ever considered expanding my family when I couldn't have sex. I felt so ashamed of not being able to have intercourse that I kept it from my family and friends. Well almost three years of trying and never succeeding in having intercourse I finally told my best friend in tears that I wasn't normal. She immediately took me to a OBGYN that referred me to Heather.
Heather was amazing right off the bat educating me on why I had this condition. She made me feel normal and gave me hope! With her help I overcame my condition within 5 months! Heather changed my life and words alone cannot explain my gratitude! She made me feel comfortable during my sessions which made this whole process easier. I now have an enjoyable life with my husband and I am happy to announce I am 3 months pregnant! Thank you so much again for making me feel normal, comfortable, hopeful and not ashamed of who I am and what I was going through. I over came my vaginismus all because of you, Heather, and I will never forget that.
-- S.P, age 26
My husband and I were married for 5 years and unable to have intercourse, but I never knew why. After numerous awful experiences at doctor’s offices (where many doctors told me I “just needed to relax”), a surgery that didn’t fix the problem, and a year of owning dilators that didn’t get me anywhere, someone finally referred me to Heather for Physical Therapy. I finally had answers and information from someone who knew exactly what I was dealing with!

I had Vaginismus. I was scared to go to a therapist at first, but as soon as I met Heather she put me at ease. She was easy to talk to and the sessions seems to fly by, even though I was there an hour. She explained everything very clearly and truly cared about my progress. In 3 and a half months we finally consummated our marriage and are now frequently enjoying the wonderful intimacy we were missing out on! I couldn’t have done it without her!
-- M.M.
Before I was referred to Heather Jeffcoat I was living in a nightmare. I had been married to my husband for three years and I was suffering from Vaginismus. That all changed when I visited my OBGYN and she said she knew of someone with a great success rate. To be honest I was hesitant at first because my first doctor had already told me that all I needed to do was order dilators from the internet and I should overcome my problem. She was wrong because I had followed the book on how to use the dilators with absolutely no advancements in my condition. However, that all changed when I went in for my first visit and Heather took the time to explain my condition and how we were going to work together to overcome it.

I remember leaving her office with a glimmer of hope that I could live a normal life. As my sessions continued I began to see immediate results. With only four sessions and a strict dedication to my home programs I was cured of Vaginismus. In the beginning of this process I was made aware that my health insurance company might not cover the costs, which was disappointing but today I can say one hundred percent that it was the best money I ever spent. Now thanks to Heather I am finally enjoying my life to the fullest with my husband. Thank you Heather, I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate all that you have done for me. I will never forget it. Those who are suffering from these types of conditions don’t be afraid because she makes you feel so comfortable and the end result is worth it. Good luck to you all and I hope you experience the success I have.
-- A.B.
I was hopeful but frankly skeptical when the doctor treating me for Interstitial Cystitis recommended that I go to Heather for physical therapy. Medication and diet helped control my IC symptoms, but I had never heard of physical therapy being used to treat IC. The education and treatment I received from Heather was a revelation. She explained that the pain I experienced with IC had helped create a cycle of muscle guarding which affected the entire pelvic area. I had no idea of the amount of tension being held there. No wonder my husband and I had not been able to have sexual intercourse for years!

Thankfully, Heather's therapy directly addressed the problem. My IC symptoms began to improve after just a few visits. Along with the physical therapy, Heather coached me in the use of dilators and gave me a home exercise program, all of which have benefited me greatly. My husband and I are now able to have sexual intercourse, something I never dreamed would happen. To all IC sufferers I would say: you need to take advantage of Heather's knowledge and expertise. Her therapy has the potential to alleviate your pain and improve the quality of your life.
-- P.M.

Heather Jeffcoat, DPT is the author of Sex Without Pain: A Self-Treatment Guide to the Sex Life You Deserve and the owner of Fusion Wellness and Physical Therapy and Femina Physical Therapy in Los Angeles, CA. You can read her full bio here.