Why Won’t They Believe Me?

Three hours ago, I was sitting in a doctor’s office in Glendale, CA waiting to see a doctor who supposedly performed vaginal botox for pelvic pain discomfort. I have been wanting to have this procedure done for MONTHS because it can prove to be very effective for many women with my conditions. However, I can’t seem to find anyone in one of the largest cities in the US who performs it and actually takes insurance. The procedure can be thousands of dollars without insurance, and that’s assuming my insurance would even cover it considering that most insurance companies don’t think vagina pain is a real issue.

ANYWAY, my appointment was at 2:15, but the doctor didn’t see me until 3. I waited in the room, starting to sweat, thinking about all the ways this appointment could go. Would he believe me? Would he take my pain seriously? Would he know what to do? Would he suggest surgery, or worse, some form of hormone therapy with a million side effects? Would he try to do a vaginal ultrasound? Would I have to suffer in pain the rest of the day because of it? I was anxious to say the least. But who wouldn’t be?

When the doctor finally came in, he asked me why I was there to see him. I explained that I had a myriad of issues and wanted to try vaginal botox, and had been informed that he could do that. He looked confused, which should have been my first warning, and insisted that we do an exam.  Although I didn’t want to for obvious reasons, I agreed because it makes sense that he would need to see what’s going on in order to do botox. He began to feel around and kept telling me to calm down. I explained to him that I was calm, but that my body clenched up during exams because it was such a horrible experience for me usually. I mean, DUH. How about you suffer from pain in your penis for 5+ years then have someone poke around on it and be chill about it? Moving on.

After a few seconds of touching me with a Q-tip and me telling him that it hurt, he informed me that I don’t have vulvodynia. I told him that I DID, and have since been relieved of most of the symptoms because of a lot of physical therapy and at home work. He said, I’m a doctor and I am telling you that you don’t have it. Ok, dude. Sure. He continued to poke around with me saying “OW” every 3 seconds and him saying “See? No pain” as if I was  a mute.

I could go on, but honestly even thinking about that fucking appointment fills me with rage. I spent hours of my life today waiting to see some asshole who accused me of being a liar and told me that my pain wasn’t real. Seven minutes into the appointment, I was crying profusely. I was so frustrated. I felt dumb. I felt hopeless. I was in pain. I wanted to leave but I was half naked on an exam table with some guy and his stupid hand mirror forcing me to look at my vagina and telling me that the only thing I need is a surgery to “remove part of my vagina” like it’s fucking 1997 and we don’t have access to better information by now. He looked at me crying and decided that it was because “I’m only 25 and still pretty young” and not because “I have chronic pain and my doctor is an asshole.” And then he left.

I suppose I should expect this from doctors by now. I can count on one hand the number of doctors who have taken my pain seriously and actually given a damn. I can’t even count all the ones who haven’t. There’s too many.

BUT WHY?

I am so tired of going to gynecologists. I am so tired of this game. I am tired of telling a professional that I am in pain and being told that I’m actually not. I am tired of searching for new doctors. I am tired of searching for new treatment options. I am so freaking tired.

Why won’t they believe me? Why won’t they believe us? (Rhetorical question, it’s mostly because we’re women. classic.)

I know my story isn’t rare. In fact, it’s the norm. But damn it, it shouldn’t be. My pain is real. Our pain is real. And if a doctor doesn’t see that, fuck them.

I don’t really have any words of wisdom today, I just have anger. I have anger for every time I have begged a doctor for help and been shown a lack of sympathy and denial. I have anger for every time a woman has gone to the doctor with endometriosis or vaginal pain of some sort and been told that she is imagining it.  I have anger at every single male OR female doctor who has ever looked at a woman suffering and in pain and called her EMOTIONAL or STRESSED. I have anger for every woman who has to live with this pain every single day with little to no help because our system has failed us. And I have anger because I’ve been seeing doctors like this for six years now and it seems like nothing has changed.

I wish I didn’t have to read stories like this, or even write about my own. I wish things were different. But as they say… what you allow is what continues.  I will never allow a doctor to talk down to me and I will no longer accept a doctor telling me that my pain isn’t real. I will put my damn pants on, and walk out of the room. I hope you do the same.

There are a lot of things that suck about living with endometriosis, etc. But seeing a doctor shouldn’t have to be one of them.

If you’ve gone through something like this, I hope you know you aren’t alone. But I also hope you believe that someday this will change.  I believe that someday every woman in the world will be able to find a doctor, tell them their symptoms, and be taken seriously. But until that day, if you meet a doctor who doesn’t take you seriously, leave. Walk out the door. And never look back.

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p.s. thinking about starting a coven to curse all doctors who doubt women, lmk if you want in

p.s.s. i’m not kidding

p.s.s.s. ok, kind of kidding

**(Sorry for using so many curse words today mom & dad, I’M UPSET)

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18 responses to “Why Won’t They Believe Me?

  1. I’m so sorry that you went through that. I felt like I was right there with you.

    Once during a pelvic exam – I got so clenchy, and uncomfortable that the doctor stopped what she was doing and said (verbatim): “What is going on? Have you been raped or something?” She said this with a sneer.

    I keep holding out hope that I’ll be able to see a doctor for anything to do with my vagina and not leave feeling humiliated, depressed and worse than I was before. So far I haven’t had much luck.

  2. I’m in. Also, the coven could go to each others’ appointments and stand around menacingly so that the doctors would think twice before saying stupid shit like “I’m a doctor and I am telling you that you don’t know anything about your body.”

  3. What the absolute f*** I can’t believe that after you agreed to an exam that the dr put you through that to such torture. That should be against the medical board and against the law. Typically I’d say I dislike all male Obgyn’s in general, but I’ve had some awful female doctors lately too. I hope you’re able to find some therapies to continue aiding in the pain.

  4. Hi Lara,

    I first learned about what you were going through after Buzzfeed published your essay about living your life without having sex. And it was the first time I had even realized that I wasn’t alone. I’ve experienced horrible pain during vaginal intercourse, with anything, no matter how small. And my muscles would clench up so tight I have literally pushed out the speculum during an exam. After going to separate doctors who told me that I wouldn’t feel any pain once I met the ‘right person’ and that I didn’t have any issues- i gave up. I stopped trying to date, I stopped living some of my life because I was so unsure of myself and what I was feeling. After reading more stories and your blogs that you’ve published, i decided to look into specialists who handle vagina problems (I’ve since started calling my issues #VaginaProblems in a cliche and intense way) and I wanted to say thank you for telling your truth. I haven’t been to my specialist just yet (it takes several months to get in with her as she is one of the only doctors in Texas to deal with these issues) but I have hope for the future. Maybe one day I’ll find a guy to accept my truth and love me for me and maybe one day I’ll find relief. I’m sorry you had such a bad experience today. There is nothing worse than not being believed. I hope you find some relief. Know that you inspire me for being so open and for continuously fighting for women.

    Best Regards,
    Taylor Grimes

    • Hi Taylor, I am so glad you are going to see a specialist. I hate that you have to wait — but that probably means they know what they are doing. I hope you find relief soon. You are not defined by your illness. All my love.

  5. I had the exact opposite problem. At age 15 I was diagnosed with endometriosis, but before that I went to ER after ER, having pelvic exam after pelvic exam (painful enough for a 15 year old virgin but with the ENDO… Yikes). They believed that I was in pain and prescribed me all sorts of pain killers, even fentanyl and morphine! I was so doped up but was still in pain. Did you ever feel that way? Eventually I refused to take any more pain meds that would only bring my pain level to a moderate degree of wanting to die. Why can’t we seem to find doctors that are in the middle somewhere? Ones that believe we are in pain but don’t prescribe us stuff just to shut us up. *sigh* if you ever find a good doctor, let me know XD

  6. Miss, THANK YOU for writing this article so eloquently. I had a very similar situation where the doctor “didn’t see any lesions on my ultrasounds” and even though she should KNOW better because endometrial lesions/fibroids cannot be seen through medical diagnostic imaging or ultrasounds they MUST be seen during a laparoscopic surgery she told me that I “was not in any pain” therefore she would not prescribe me any pain medication because I was obviously just a pill head looking to get my next high. I became furious and walked out of the damn appointment. I refuse to let someone make me feel like a liar for my illness!!!

  7. Dear Lara, I don’t know where to start. I justed turned 19 this year and my menstrual pains began at the age of 13. My family was going through a very difficult divorce at the time so I did want to become a burden and never told anyone about what was going on. Instead, I would steal my grand mother’s morfin pills just to relieve the pain every month. I remember how much hatred I felt towards myself, as I thought that everyone experienced the same kinds of cramps during menstruation and that I was just weak for not feeling like I could handle it. This sensation was amplified when I finally decided to speak out to people around me. I was told that I was only stressed and maybe ate badly etc. Not until I fainted during school and taken to the hospital, they realized that I was born with two uterus, with one of which did not have a vaginal opening. This lead to a similar condition in which the blood came back up through the fallopian tubes dripping out in the surrounding tissue. When the doctor finally realized they decided to empty and remove the additional uterus through a vaginal surgery. Unfortunately,probably due to the lack of understanding towards the complexity of the area, the surgery failed miserably. I am now unable to have intercourse without experiencing extreme pain and I am often in pain just normally. For the longest time I just stayed away from any kind of sex-related situations. Until I feel in love with a boy when I was 17 and so desperately wanted him to stay with me that I would have intercourse, although thinking that I would die the whole time doing it, just hoping that he would not leave me if just managed to “handle” the pain. He didn’t, and I remember being asked to “stop looking like you are in so much pain it makes me uncomfortable” and being dumped because our sex life was so boring simply as I could not manage to do anything apart from missionary style. The physical and psychological pain was almost unbearable. When I stumbled upon your blog a cried, Lara. This comment is the first time anyone apart form my mother knows my story. I have kept my pain hidden and it has been my biggest shameful secret. I have considered myself as a less worthy woman. After reading about your story, I for the first time feel like it is okay. It is okay. I am okay. I am still worth something. Thank you so much.

  8. Oh my god these stories, please see my comment on your bio page. You have quite the platform for all these ladies dealing with this. I’m so appreciative of the writing you do, it’s so important and I really wish I had someone like you when I was suffering. There is hope!!

  9. Lara,
    I read your story on snapchat buzzfeed, I was in tears when I was reading it, for the looooongest time I thought I was the only person that had this condition I thought I was not normal I felt hopeless, my story is pretty long but to make a long story short I got married when I was 20 never had sex or dated before that, both of us were virgins and I remember so vividly the night of our honeymoon I was so excited and happy and obviously awaiting this big moment….. And everything went wrong I thought I was just so nervous So I blamed it on that, that night that was supposed to be so special didn’t happen!this continued believe it or not for the next 6 years of our marriage, I never really had a real gynecology exam, I was always so tight and scared and nervous that the gynecologist could never perform an exam on me, my husband would always comfort me and tell me everything was ok, but I knew it wasn’t this caused anxiety and fear of him leaving me for a girl that was ” normal” that could give him what I couldn’t. Now I don’t want to say this happens to everyone because it’s only my case, one night I remember being so depressed and helpless and alone and I literally begged and prayed ” why me, am I ever going to have kids I thought, why, why, am I the only girl,I was desperate, my desperation was out of control!!! The worst happened though a few weeks after that horrible night I found out my husband was cheating on me, and believe it or not about 3 weeks later I found out I was pregnant!!!! It was a roller coaster ride after that, I was shocked with everything, funny how things happen I had waited six years to finally say ” I’m pregnant” and my husband decides to call it quits, till this day I always say my baby was a miracle, not only that but, I was horrified of the thought of getting checked during my pregnancy, eventually I found out that rarely does it happen but, even the slightest penetration or sperm around the vagina can get u pregnant, six years being married and I never got a penetration, I can only say that I was perhaps that rare case! Lara I know this is veery long, but I just want to tell you there is hope and You are not alone on this, my story does not end like I wanted it but sadly my husband did not stay with me but… I got the best part my miracle baby:) I tell you there is hope because I struggled with this even after I had my baby, I tried to have intercourse again with my husband again in hopes that i was ok, but nothing happened, months after our divorce, I said to myself, ” no no no I need to be positive tell my mind that sex is pleasurable and its not suppose to hurt, I set my mind to believe it everyday, I know every case of vaginism is different and it ranges from not so bad to severe… But I tried to focus on the positive always, I did get therapy, my rage my fear of being left came true, believe it or not the thought that he was having sex with someone else, the thought of me not being able to give him, what almost everyone can made me say, I’m going to do this, it sounds like I was trying to proof to him that I can but in reality it was just me trying to overcome this and setting my mind on “Yes I can do this, it’s natural part of life, it’s not going to hurt me” eventually it happened, I know many people will not understand this but to me it was a huge accomplishment in life, I know the struggle and believe me it’s real! Lara you will get through this and when you least expect it you will be fine, always remember your not the only one, I’m so glad I found your story, your such a brave girl, and don’t let anyone or any doctor tell u otherwise:)

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