In 2015 following the difficult birth of her son, Ari, Big Brother 2020 housemate and mama-of-two, Zoe had vaginismus.

Sharing her story to followers of her blog, The Subtle Mummy in 2017, Zoe wrote about the painful condition in a post she titled, “Oh it’s broken alright.”

Zoe’s birth with her now six-year-old son, Ari was a difficult one. She was two weeks overdue, was induced and when it was finally time for her baby boy to make his arrival there was no time for an episiotomy and so she tore, resulting in a lot of blood loss.

The now 39-year-old, also struggled during the post-partum recovery period due to botched stitches. “I guess in the rush, with all that blood loss, the staff were more concerned with stopping the bleeding than taking care with my stitches down there,” she says.

Six months later the idea of sex petrified the woodwork teacher from Melbourne and so she booked in to see her gynecologist.

“He assured me that it was normal and I had just made a tiny human and there was a lot of trauma so not to expect too much. I gave it another six months and by that time we were trying for our second. By ‘trying’ I mean I would cry whilst biting on a pillow, enduring sex while my poor husband tried to get the job done as quickly as possible,” she shares.

Then, Zoe returned to her gynecologist once again, who examined her and said there was scar tissue from her stitches and she could either have surgery to fix it or “bear through it” until we conceived and then “hope the next baby tears the same spot so that it can be re-stitched more carefully”.

The mummy blogger went with the latter option and she conceived but through the process she “managed to traumatise my vagina to the point of vaginismus.”

Explaining it in laymans terms, Zoe says: “It’s basically when your vagina has had enough so she over tightens your pelvic floor muscles so much that nothing is allowed in.”

Zoe George with her two children, Ari, six and Ambrosia, four.

Months of physio saw slight improvement and months later Zoe welcomed her baby girl, Ambrosia.

“She gently tore me in the same internal spot that Ari had and there was a highly experienced doctor in the room within minutes stitching me up carefully. Within a few days I could already tell that I was feeling more normal down there.”

What is vaginismus?

According to Health Direct, vaginismus causes the muscles around the vagina to tighten involuntarily. This can cause some pain and discomfort.

Vaginismus can occur whether you have had sex or not. Vaginismus usually occurs when the genital area is touched. This can be before sexual intercourse, before attempting to insert a tampon, or during a gynaecological examination, for example.

There are several possible causes of vaginismus. These include physical and psychological factors, like:

  • trauma during childbirth
  • medical conditions like recurrent UTIs, yeast infections (thrush), chronic pain syndromes, endometriosis
  • rape, sexual abuse or assault in the past
  • a painful examination in the past
  • unpleasant sexual intercourse
  • fear of getting pregnant
  • fear the vagina may be too small for penetration

Treatment of vaginismus depends on what is causing it. It’s important to see your GP to identify and treat any medical causes of vaginismus. Therapies include pelvic floor physiotherapy, relaxation skills, counselling and Botox injections.