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The Alien Concept of Vaginal Dilators Part 1

Posted: Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 2:03:41 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

Or, “You Want Me To Put What Where?”

vaginaldilators

In my experience, vaginal dilators can really freak people out.

The idea of an inanimate object designed to be inserted into the vagina to help with difficulty with sex (e.g. vaginismus) can be very confronting. This is understandable! I’d like to go through some of the reasons people find the idea of vaginal dilators unappealing, and how we can work around these feelings.

But first, what are vaginal dilators?


Vaginal dilators, as you may know, are a nifty invention for conditions such as vaginismus. (They can also be used for other conditions, but we will focus on vaginismus for now). Vaginal dilators are a little family of plastic, glass or silicone tubes in different sizes, which help you get used to the feeling of something going into (and being in) the vagina. They often fit inside each other like a rather charming set of Russian nesting dolls (Babushka dolls).

russiannestingdolls

But that’s as far as the comparison goes with something friendly and adorable like a doll. Most of my patients with vaginismus find dilators rather clinical and “medical”. When they arrive in the mail, they take one look at them and push them back in the packet. They often bring them in to me in the original bag, still fully wrapped in the bubble wrap. They just can’t face them.

At the very least, women feel apprehensive about using dilators.

At worst, they may be physically repulsed by them. This is understandable – but can actually form a big part of the problem. Getting to the point where it doesn’t feel offputting to use dilators is a major milestone and, I find, usually means the finish line is in sight. While there may be that bit of work to do yet, it’s a fairly predictable path to the end goal of successful intercourse at this point.

But the negative feelings about using dilators represent an age-old challenge to our nervous system, and a major activator of the stress response : threat.

Any negative emotion is a threat to your sense of well-being, your sense that “all is right in your world”. Threat is a major activator of the stress system. Activation of the stress system sets off a protective reaction in your muscles, promoting vaginismus…and thus the vicious cycle continues.

So addressing and working through this sense of threat is essential in overcoming vaginismus, and learning to be okay with your dilators is one of your major tasks.

You can start working through a self-help program to resolve this "threat situation" by downloading my e-book Outsmart Your Pain. You can start that straight away here.

If this is your experience, you will be most interested to follow up with Part 2 of this post.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

The Alien Concept of Vaginal Dilators Part 2

Posted: Tuesday, February 3, 2015 at 10:57:36 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

Last post I talked about the concept of vaginal dilators, which are an ingredient in the success recipe for many women experiencing vaginismus and painful sex. (Not everyone, mind you, so be cautious if self-treating, or if your treating clinician doesn’t seem experienced or flexible in their treatment).

I observed that many women feel apprehensive about using dilators.

They may find them alien, weird, confronting, distasteful or even distressing. And particularly when these feelings are intense, they need to be respected and "coaxed around" rather than repressed or forced through.

Now, I admit I am rather blasé about the concept of dilators due to ten years of clinical exposure. But I do take great care to ease people into the idea. I gauge their readiness, and raise the idea when I judge the time is right. I explain how helpful they are going to be, and emphasise the positive. I show them a picture before the real-life object.

(By the way, this is just like phobia therapy. I trained myself to look at photos of spiders before observing real-life ones. It may seem a dramatic comparison, but actually, anything you have negative feelings about can respond to a similar technique used in phobias called “graded exposure” or “desensitisation”. More about this in another blog post – but you can find a detailed plan for “graded exposure” to sex in my e-book Outsmart Your Pain, which you can download and start reading immediately here).

Though I use sensitivity when introducing the concept of vaginal dilators, I am not able to diffuse the apprehensiveness completely. I see the change that comes over women’s faces as they regard the picture of the dilators. Overcoming this reluctance to try them is sometimes the biggest hurdle in resolving the vaginismus and attaining the goal of enjoyable, pain-free sex.

stressedwoman

 

This got me thinking. How can we make the idea of using the dilators less unappealing?

This might be the key to success!

This series of blogs, therefore, focuses on strategies to make using dilators more appealing. Enjoy! And remember, there is a lot more to achieving painless, enjoyable sex than using dilators. A system of “graded exposure” to increased “sensory input” to the vulva and vagina is available in the Appendix of my e-book, Outsmart Your Pain, recommended for all women with vaginismus, painful sex, vulvodynia and persistent pelvic pain.

A kind of disclaimer:

Whether you need to use vaginal dilators at all is another question that cannot be answered by this blog post. Whether vaginal dilators are the best solution for you right now is an even more complicated question, which you might like to discuss with a clinician experienced in treating vaginismus and other issues of painful sex. And finding an experienced clinician in this field, who is right for you and the place you are at, may be the greatest challenge of all! This final issue is a topic for another blog post.

 

 

Last post I talked about the concept of vaginal dilators, which are an ingredient in the success recipe for many women experiencing vaginismus and painful sex. (Not everyone, mind you, so be cautious if self-treating, or if your treating clinician doesn’t seem experienced or flexible in their treatment).

I observed that many women feel apprehensive about using dilators.

They may find them alien, weird, confronting, distasteful or even distressing. And particularly when these feelings are intense, they need to be respected and "coaxed around" rather than repressed or forced through.

Now, I admit I am rather blasé about the concept of dilators due to ten years of clinical exposure. But I do take great care to ease people into the idea. I gauge their readiness, and raise the idea when I judge the time is right. I explain how helpful they are going to be, and emphasise the positive. I show them a picture before the real-life object.

(By the way, this is just like phobia therapy. I trained myself to look at photos of spiders before observing real-life ones. It may seem a dramatic comparison, but actually, anything you have negative feelings about can respond to a similar technique used in phobias called “graded exposure” or “desensitisation”. More about this in another blog post – but you can find a detailed plan for “graded exposure” to sex in my e-book Outsmart Your Pain, which you can download and start reading immediately here).

Though I use sensitivity when introducing the concept of vaginal dilators, I am not able to diffuse the apprehensiveness completely. I see the change that comes over women’s faces as they regard the picture of the dilators. Overcoming this reluctance to try them is sometimes the biggest hurdle in resolving the vaginismus and attaining the goal of enjoyable, pain-free sex.

stressedwoman

 

This got me thinking.

How can we make the idea of using the dilators less unappealing?

This might be the key to success!

This series of blogs, therefore, focuses on strategies to make using dilators more appealing. Enjoy! And remember, there is a lot more to achieving painless, enjoyable sex than using dilators. A system of “graded exposure” to increased “sensory input” to the vulva and vagina is available in the Appendix of my e-book, Outsmart Your Pain, recommended for all women with vaginismus, painful sex, vulvodynia and persistent pelvic pain.

Watch this space for the first blog in the series.

A kind of disclaimer:

Whether you need to use vaginal dilators at all is another question that cannot be answered by this blog post. Whether vaginal dilators are the best solution for you right now is an even more complicated question, which you might like to discuss with a clinician experienced in treating vaginismus and other issues of painful sex. And finding an experienced clinician in this field, who is right for you and the place you are at, may be the greatest challenge of all! This final issue is a topic for another blog post.

 

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Ten Ways to Make Using Your Vaginal Dilators Less Unappealing - Reclassify Them!

Posted: Monday, February 16, 2015 at 2:47:32 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

Women who use vaginal dilators generally don’t do it for fun.

If you’ve been recommended vaginal dilators, it’s probably for the problem of painful sex or vaginismus. You can read more about the common reluctance to use vaginal dilators here, and learn about the concept of removing the “threat” associated with using them here.

But in this blog post I’d like to focus on my first suggestion for making vaginal dilators more appealing to use (or, at least, less unappealing).

The way you see an object is influenced and shaped by its name.

Would you agree? For example, wouldn’t you rather wear a “chemise” than a singlet? “Go for a pedicure” rather than “have your corns filed off”? Take something to “settle your stomach” rather than “stop the belching”?

Well, your vagina agrees. Like you, your vagina has class.

And therefore, your dilators need to be re-class-ified.

You could reclassify the dilators as “trainers” if you want to feel sporty or focus on your achievements. (“I’m just going to go have a session with my trainers.”)

Or perhaps “helpers” – wouldn’t your vagina rather be “helped” than “dilated”? (“Gee I’m glad I’ve got these helpers to use!”)

russiannestingdolls

Maybe “Baboushka dolls” would lend a nice vibe, and be suitable for a little family of objects that fit inside each other. (“I guess it’s time to get out the Baboushka dolls.”)

Or what about just “gizmos”? (This is how I tend to refer to them). Remember Gizmo from the movie Gremlins? Well, dilators are much more like the cute little mogwai Gizmo than a nasty reptilian gremlin. (“Where did I put my little gizmos?”)

mogwai

Even better, how about you name them individually?

It may sound silly, but the human brain works in funny ways. You’re much more likely to feel accepting of – even a fondness for – something you’ve named. Think of something that’s a set, a family or a group, like the seven dwarves or Santa’s reindeer, for example. (“Well – Prancer was a walk in the park.. And I’ve blitzed my way through Blitzen. Dasher’s done his dash. Can’t wait to get started with Vixen!”)

And if you feel silly naming inert plastic tubes, consider storing a tiny Guatamalan worry doll in each. Again, this may seem silly to your conscious brain. However, your unconscious brain will find the dilators (trainers, helpers, gizmos) much more appealing if they have been associated with an endearing little doll. (Worry dolls or trouble dolls are a set of tiny dolls that are placed under your pillow each night after being told a worry to. The legend is that you then leave the worry in the hands of the worry doll to sort out for you while you are sleeping).

You can get these little cuties for just a few dollars from an Oxfam Shop online.

worrydolls

But does it really matter what we call them? Well, it’s important not to take these little tools too seriously. ("DILATORS"  sounds terribly serious and medical to me, and I suspect to many women). They are simply a practical means to a valuable end – painless, comfortable sex and intimacy.

Check this out:

A research study had participants taste different substances named either as simple numbers or as appealing labels such as lemon, coffee jelly, caramel candy and consommé soup. Guess what? They were rated as tastier when they had appealing names. It may seem only a small thing, but renaming things in your environment that seem unappealing or even threatening can really help to defuse that threat.

(For a whole program on defusing the threat in order to help your pain, read my e-book Outsmart Your Pain.)

I would love to hear your stories about how using different terms or nicknames has helped you in this situation!

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Best Ways to Help a Tampon Go In Step 8

Posted: Tuesday, August 2, 2016 at 7:49:26 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

Don't Feel Weird About Using a Sex Toy to Help Your Tampon Problem 

Firstly, this is an 18+ post.

If you do not fall into this category, please go get your at-least-eighteen-year-old-mother and respectfully ask her permission for you to read this together. However, my target group for this post is the woman over eighteen who, despite her best efforts and my expert advice (starting with my first tampon blog), struggles to use tampons comfortably.

Let’s start with a technicality.

The term “sex toy” can be very offputting for some. I do wish there was another name for sex toys. (Though some of them deserve a tacky name like that.)

For the purpose of this blog, could we call them Attraction Contraptions? Objects d’ Heart? Mojo Gizmos? A Love Science Appliance? Not exactly catchy. Now I know why they are simply “sex toys”.

Apparently the word “dildo” is from the Italian “diletto”, or “delight”.

I would like to suggest in this post you become a dabbler in sex toys – a Diletto Dilettante, if you will.

I would firstly like to get it straight that I am not making an overall judgment on sex toys, for good or for bad. I am simply suggesting that in the scenario of having difficulty with tampons, they should not be discounted. They could after all be a useful tool.

fluteplaying

At first blush - perhaps literally? - suggesting the use of sex toys when you are struggling with inserting tampons may seem like a bad joke.

The mere sight of them (or even thought of them) may be enough to make you recoil.

But trust me. There is good theory behind this apparently crazy idea.

What we need to do is to help the idea of using tampons stop being threatening. We need tampons to become a friend instead of a foe. My sex therapist friends tell me that for some women, using sex toys can help develop "friendlier feelings" in this area. If you read my post about the Empress in charge of the Guardians of the Gate, this concept will be familiar. We are looking for ways to turn the cranky Empress into a purring pussycat. And sex toys do have an excellent track record of doing this for women.

I am certainly not an expert. But if you are just a little open to the idea, becoming familiar with a vibrator, for example, may help develop some positive experience with the landscape.

Some vibrators are very small, discreet and tasteful. (And if that's not your style, there are plenty of other styles as well!) The advantage of the small vibrators is that they can be used to develop awareness of pleasurable sensations anywhere around the vulva, but they can also be inserted in the vagina. (Perhaps it's better to think of this as the vibrator "being embraced by the vagina"?) In fact, there are sets that double as vibrators and dilators – the topic of my next blog post in the series – like this one.

A number of my patients with difficulty inserting tampons, inserting their finger, or allowing entry of a penis tell me something interesting.

All of a sudden, the difficulties evaporate (or at least improve) after orgasm.

This makes sense; when you are aroused, the vagina expands. The silky tent roof we have talked about before becomes billowy and even more flexible, creating lots of space. So becoming aroused - with or without a sex toy, of course - can be a marvelous preparation to experimenting with inserting a tampon.

You're almost there! The ninth blog post in this ten-part series can be found right here.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Stuck on that Last Dilator?

Posted: Wednesday, June 17, 2015 at 12:57:29 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

Getting From the Plastic Thing to the Real Thing – Part 1

Pain with sex can be a bit of a project to resolve.

I’ve written a lot about painful sex due to muscular causes. (The old term is vaginismus. I still use this term because usually that’s what the doctor has called it to the patient coming to see me. And the new official term, “Genito Pelvic Pain/Penetration Disorder” has a way of making you quake at the knees.)

I’ve often said to the women I see that I wish I could make their vaginismus with sex go away with the wave of a magic wand. But muscles don’t switch on and off with the click of your fingers.

Retraining your muscles takes time.

Retraining your muscles takes attention.

Retraining your muscles takes motivation!

If you’ve used vaginal dilators as part of your program to resolve vaginismus, you’ll have first-hand experience of the commitment and discipline required to solve this problem.

Many women who use dilators progress well through the program and experience the reward of pain-free sex at the end of it – and the elation that comes with it!

But if you had solved the problem, you probably wouldn’t be reading this post.

Maybe you are finding the dilators really hard to get going with.

In that case, you will love my series on The Alien Concept of Vaginal Dilators, as well as Ten Ways to Make Using Your Dilators Less Appealing!

Sometimes the barrier is actually not a physical one. Sometimes it’s your brain that’s putting up the most resistance, and not allowing you to move forward.

In this situation, you may want to know more about retraining your brain in vaginal and pelvic pain.

But if you have been persisting with your dilators for a while, have made it to the biggest one, but just can’t move on from there, this blog series is for you.

Training with dilators is all about small, measurable steps.

In this series I'll go through some ways you can structure your training sessions.

I'll also help you with some stepping stones from the training to the "real thing".

Can't wait? Need help now?

For one-on-one training in making this transition, make an appointment to see me.

appointment_button

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Ten Ways to Make Using Your Vaginal Dilators Less Unappealing

Posted: Wednesday, June 17, 2015 at 12:57:08 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

Get Acquainted With Them

In vaginismus and painful sex, using dilators is often part of your rehab program.

Let’s face it, anything unfamiliar can be a bit scary. A new experience is always a bit daunting, even when it’s positive. And it makes sense from an evolutionary sense to be cautious when encountering a new object, even if it ends up being good for you.

It’s natural to feel some trepidation about starting work with your dilators.

As it is, you’re probably feeling a bit nervous or anxious already. You have been experiencing difficulty using tampons and possibly painful sex, and your super smart brain is working overtime to warn you of any other possible dangers out there.

(It’s great to have the ultra-developed brain of a human being, which learns from experience and tries to look out for you. But this is one situation where you’re going to have to convince your brain you’re in no danger of harm, and that trying something new – using dilators – is actually going to help you.)

I’ve already talked about how naming your dilators can help. Another important step in convincing your brain that using dilators is actually ok is to get acquainted with them.

Get to know your dilators! Get a bit more familiar with them!

This uses a concept known among psychologists and pain therapists as “graded exposure”.

Graded exposure is the opposite of throwing yourself in the deep end. It’s just dipping your toe in the water, realising that the water is a bit cold but won’t kill you, and gradually dipping more and more of your body in. This way, you get used to it. You don’t think you can do it when you start, but you take small steps to give you confidence.

What are some things you can do to get acquainted with dilators?

One of the best things you can do to get to know any object is just to hold it.

When you are just using your eyes, your brain works overtime in dreaming up all kinds of intimidating thoughts. If you use your other senses, such as touch, it takes away that sense of a “foreign object”.

So take out your dilator kit, and hold them one at a time. Start with the smallest.  Feel how smooth it is. Feel its temperature.

Place it against the skin of your arm to get a sense of how it feels to the body.

You can do this as gradually as you like. You may want to keep the bigger ones hidden away for a while if they are psyching you out. There is no reason you need to store all the dilators together. You can even start by just keeping the small one somewhere you see it, like your underwear drawer, so that your brain gets lots of “incidental exposure”.

There is research showing that if you have seen a stranger before – without realising – when you next see them you unconsciously rate them as more friendly. I can’t see why dilators would be any different! The more you see them, the less scary they will be.

Even more powerful would be to store them with something appealing, unexpected or humorous.

You could store your dilator in your sock drawer, in a zany sock or a lacy stocking. This will automatically make your brain have more positive associations with it.

You could use it as a jewellery or ring stand on your dresser.

You could keep them with your knitting needles. (Even casting on a few stitches to them while they’re waiting to be used, in your favourite colour yarn).

Or even in a bowl of fake fruit on your dresser!

These suggestions might sound silly, but that’s exactly why they work. They shock the brain into a different mode and remove the “threat” associated with the dilators. In pain science, this is called “homuncular refreshment”. It’s a legitimate technique!

So think like the experts.

Start yourself on some graded exposure to dilators, using homuncular refreshment!

More about graded exposure in the next instalment. In the meantime, you might want to refresh your memory on some other cute ideas of getting used to your dilators in my first post in this series.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

The Secret to Conquering Pain With Sex

Posted: Tuesday, June 23, 2015 at 11:17:14 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

The One Absolute “Must-Have” In Vulvodynia and Vaginismus

I see dozens of women in my clinic every month who have pain with sex.

Some of them have been diagnosed with vaginismus. Some have been diagnosed with vulvodynia, but have vaginismus as well. Some have been diagnosed with vaginismus, but their symptoms are more like vulvodynia. And some have no diagnosis, but just know the most important thing – that they have pain with sex they wish they didn’t.

The “secret” to conquering pain with sex – or at least a big part of it – is the same as overcoming any obstacle.

Most of the women I see do really well. Some women, of course, don’t continue with treatment. When I contact them, some of them tell me their reasons. Sometimes they haven’t come back because their symptoms resolved after the first two treatments. More often than not, they cite other reasons: family, finances, or the all-too-frequent “I’ve just been so busy!”

So how do you ensure that you are one of the women who are a “Vulvodynia/Vaginismus Success Story”?

After more than a decade of seeing hundreds of women with vulvodynia and vaginismus every year, I have a long and fascinating list of answers to this question. But today I want to focus on just one of them. In the words of one of my patients today (with vulvodynia):

“You have to want it.”

A big part of recovery from vaginismus and vulvodynia is motivation: that powerful drive to solve the problem, and the strength of character to persevere until you get there.

(Now, I am not for one minute suggesting that’s all you need. Please don’t be offended if you know you want this more than anything, and have done everything in your power to fix the problem, but haven’t yet seen success. Of course, there are many other factors involved in success as well. So if you already know you are super-committed, this post is not for you. You don't need this.)

But without motivation and commitment, you’ll be treading water at best.

This commitment needs to be visible through all of your daily actions, the choices you make, the way you live your life. It needs to pervade your whole lifestyle and be more than just words. As we all know, actions speak louder than words.


Here’s an example of where a person’s actions tell the story of their life.

I recently visited my sister in her self-designed, self-built Tasmanian hideaway. I spent a morning with her watching her chop wood for an hour. At her place, if you don’t chop wood, you don’t get warm. There is no getting out of it: it’s either do the hard yards, or suffer the consequences. After she finished woodchopping she went and practised her flips on the trampoline for twenty minutes. She has very specific targets in her gymnastics training (which she only started as a mother of two a few years ago). She knows she won’t master the skill without the dogged, repetitive practice.

As we wandered back up the hill towards the house, my sister muttered to herself, “Hmmm, I need to find time to do a training session today.” My sister does high-level gymnastics-style body weight training, which enables her to get to the second floor of her house by climbing a rope (arms only, no legs), as there is no staircase in her house. (She does have legs, she just chooses not to use them when climbing a rope).

As I chuckled to myself at her comment – which was made in all seriousness – it got me thinking about how we all live our lives.

When we talk about what we want – or about what’s not going right in our lives – do we take action? Do we really put our money where our mouth is? And is our commitment visible through our actions and habits, day in, day out?

My sister did manage to squeeze in the training session, and her results are visible from this repeated commitment. But even if she had missed the training session she felt she needed, her lifestyle already tells the story. She had spent an hour and a half being physical in a way few women commit to. She had chopped wood and jumped on the trampoline. The day before she’d probably be up on the roof checking the solar panels. The month before she’d been rendering the walls of their cabin. The year before she'd been planing the logs to finish building the walls. Her lifestyle is a commitment to physical activity and maximising her body’s capabilities to achieve the goal in her mind's eye.

Commitment is easy to spot from the pattern of how you live your life.

What do your patterns say about your commitment? Are you watertight on your program, your stretches, your dilators, whatever it is? Are you prioritising decreasing stress in your life? Are you working on maintaining the best mental health and attitude? Are you keeping a journal of your progress?

There are no guarantees with health of course – or life in general. But commitment is the closest you will get to a guarantee of results, and progress, in some shape or form, is a certainty.

For more ideas and motivation on how to harness the power of your brain to resolve pain with sex, see my e-book Outsmart Your Pain: Twelve Key Insights for Conquering Vulvodynia and Persistent Pelvic Pain.

 

 

 

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Best Ways to Help a Tampon Go In Step 9

Posted: Tuesday, August 2, 2016 at 7:52:39 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

Use Vaginal Trainers or Dilators

Well done for getting this far in the series about making tampons easier! If you have missed any of the episodes on this channel, start here at the first post and work your way through.

If you are still having troubles, it may be worth changing tack a little. It may be worth trying something other than a tampon in order to achieve the goal of being able to use tampons. What am I talking about? Let me explain.

A tampon is designed to be absorbent. That’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? But this fact may actually be part of the difficulty you have. Tampons are kind of fuzzy and furry. They are usually made of cotton or rayon, or a combination. The unintended effect of this is to increase friction. When you try to put the tampon in, it might feel slightly scratchy. It might feel like it’s dragging the skin inside.

Now imagine you had a tampon shaped object that was perfectly smooth. Smooth and flat, like glass or ice. There’s a reason it’s easiest to ice skate on ice, not grass! Smooth, flat surfaces like glass or ice are a lot more slippery and cause less friction.

Now, I’m not suggesting you try to insert an “icypole” or “Popsicle”. But I do have good news. There are these things called dilators, which are tube-shaped objects usually made of very smooth plastic. They are designed exactly for this purpose – to allow the vagina to comfortably expand. They are used for certain medical conditions, including vaginismus and vaginal agenesis.

I see a lot of women who have difficulty inserting tampons, and we work together on a “dilator program” – gradually learning to insert a dilator with relaxed muscles, and keep the muscles relaxed. Over time, they progress to larger dilators as each one gets easier. Most women find using tampons easy after doing this program.

Freaked out about the concept of vaginal dilators? Click here to start reading my blog post series about Ways to Make Your Dilators Less Unappealing.

Vaginal dilators are easy to get online. It’s just usually a case of “too many choices”! A pelvic floor physiotherapist is the best health professional to give you advice on what to choose.

And here is the finish line! Click here for the final post in this blog series.

Best Ways to Help a Tampon Go In Step 10

Posted: Monday, February 29, 2016 at 1:02:00 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

Time to fix the issue once and for all!

I hope you have been following this series about solutions for the problem of being unable to put a tampon in. If not, head straight back to the start to not miss a thing!

I have devoted 9 individual blog posts to different tips to make it easier to put a tampon in, including using a mirror, picking the best position, relaxing your pelvic floor muscles, not being squeamish, using your finger, lubricating the tampon like crazy, picking the best time of your period, considering using a "sex toy" to help, and using vaginal dilators as trainers.

But I've kept the best one for last!

(Mainly because if the other tips have worked so far, you won't need this one - but this is the most sure-fire way to solve the problem if the other tips haven't worked yet!)

My very best tip on solving the problem of being unable to put a tampon in is this:                 

Work with an expert.

This may sound strange - even outlandish - but let me explain.

If you just can't get that reverse park, you would work with a driving instructor, wouldn't you?

If you can't get the technique naturally when learning butterfly, you would ask for the expertise of a swimming teacher, wouldn't you?

The problem is, as young girls and women, we often don't have an obvious "expert" on women's issues at our fingertips. We might be too embarrassed to ask our friends, assuming they can all do it already. We might be too intimidated to ask the doctor. This goes for whether the problem is putting in a tampon or successfully having sex with penetration - getting a penis in the vagina.

Well, great news.

There are experts out there - they are called pelvic floor physiotherapists.

We not only understand the anatomy of the area in detail, but we have the experience to help you overcome these problems that other health professionals may lack. Best of all, we are a pretty nice bunch of people! (I'm not just saying this. Most pelvic floor physiotherapists move into this field because of a great compassion for women with these troubles. Many women's health physios even have first-hand experience with all sorts of women's troubles. While we won't spill the beans on that, it does give us a lot of understanding and you will find that we put you at ease.)

So don't be nervous! Find a pelvic floor physiotherapist to help you with this. Helping women successfully put tampons in is part of our job description. Wherever you live, you can ring your national physiotherapy organisation and ask how to find a pelvic floor physiotherapist with the training and experience to help you.

If you are in or near (or can get to) Brisbane, Australia, I would be more than happy to help you overcome this problem and put it behind you so it stops interfering with your life!

Make an appointment without delay!

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

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