Extreme phobia of vaginal related things

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From a young age and for an unknown reason I ve had almost a phobia of anything related to sexual biology. During biology lessons in school both at age 11 and 15 I would begin the process which is very familiar to me now. The discussion of ovaries/periods/birth/anything related to down there I d get very agitated, develop a twitch in my eye, sustain very strong migraines, lose all the colour in my face, blood pressure drop and then in worst case scenarios pass out. This has happened on a number of occasions and I don t know why. Once I was watching a film and the words cervical mucas made my eye start twitching. It s impractical day to day (I nearly blacked out overhearing my friend talking about her coil while out shopping the other day) but medically it s really worrying as it puts me off ever going to the doctors.

I ve already got a history of vaginal problems, from a young age I required cream for problems down there and have already had BV three times (I m 20 btw). I ve only had sex with my current boyfriend and often it s painful which puts me off having it. I cannot stand to have fingers inside me as it goes through me.

Not so long ago I had swabs done at the doctors and a 10 minute appointment took over an hour with the nurse due to blacking out.

Unfortunately I ve received very poor care from my doctors, even after moving, with my last doctor telling me not to worry and that I ve got 5 years till I have to have smears so it s fine.

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  • Posted

    Hi Carrie. What a very difficult situation. Especially since your doctors did not guide you or assist you. If there is no obvious cause for it, like childhood trauma, then it is a little more complex to approach, but should be treatable. It would still require some psychoanalytic probing to discover the root - it could be something very simple like an untimely exposure to too much information. Sometimes that is really all it takes. Following an attempt at discovering and diffusing root cause, you would need some reconditioning done by a competent psychotherapist. Do you have other phobias or extreme reactions to anything else related or unrelated? Talk of male anatomy does not produce the same reactions? x
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    • Posted

      Hi Purpledoberman,

      I can't tell you what a relief it is to actually have someone take me seriously. Whenever I've tried to discuss my issue with family/friends/even my boyfriend I get labelled as weird and over dramatic. So thank you.

      I don't have this problem with anything else and am absolutely fine with make anatomy so it really is a mystery.

      Do you have any idea how I would go about doing that? I'm a bit hesitant to see a doctor again as the ones I have had have been extremely unsympathetic and dismissive, bar the one nurse that had to endure me blacking out. But if thats the only option I've no choice I guess. Do you know of anyone who has had a similar problem and been 'cured' by this therapy?

      Thanks for your response.

      Carrie x

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    • Posted

      I am so sorry you were unlucky to not find one medical professional with brains to think to send you to a psychologist for an evaluation and hopefully some relief. You sound quite clear and capable so i am sure you will follow up and seek to resolve this however.

      Actually I personally know one person who had similar reactions but not as notable as yours. They were however triggered by premature tampering with tampons. She did black out a few times but it did not spread into the entire topic, remaining confined only within bounds of sight and thought of tampons. So since the root was clear she was slowly desensitized while still quite young and the topic became well assimilated by the time she entered child-bearing age. She has two kids now and no further issues.

      This kind of absolute freezing on specific topics/notions/ideas is not all that uncommon however and can be related to various subjects. Your case is complex in that there has been no easily identifiable trauma associated. But then, in many phobic conditions the onset trauma is elusive. Take the odd example of koumpounophobia (phobia of buttons) for example (I know several cases) where a child has a total melt-down and faints at the sight of buttons in their near vicinity. Over time, if left untreated, it can develop into similar symptoms to yours upon simply hearing about buttons, spreading to clothes, dressing and leaving home for the fear of having to confront the dreaded object or mentions of it.

      Whatever the root, what you are experiencing is an escalation of something that was for some reason improperly assimilated by your brain OR you have other anxieties that are manifesting through this.

      Yes, good therapy has a fairly strong chance of resolving this. Worst case scenario is that it is only partially managed in which case you can look into hypnosis or hypnotherapy. I am not keen on hypnosis unless other forms of therapy have been attempted and failed.

      You could try discussing with a clinical psychologist, though preferably one also trained in psychoanalytic psychotherapy - this may take some time... However, you can combine it with CBT to boost therapy and enable you to start practically addressing the issue. Here you would learn some new coping skills, explore the issue in some depth and be offered some exercises as well as possibly do some desensitizing work (I would ask for gentle progressive desensitization until the case is properly explored so as to avoid unnecessary shock). CBT is a safe short-term therapy designed for immediate coping skill building. In mild cases it can be therapeutic on its own, provided you keep practicing and working on yourself after the 8-10 sessions of CBT.

      Then there is also EMDR which is still considered unconventional, but I do think it is a much better option before falling back on hypnosis. I am against hypnosis because i hate the idea of meddling with the subconscious/unconscious by overriding the patient's personal involvement. Others may disagree but I was always uneasy with the idea. I see its merit if every other attempt to recondition a conscious patient fails though. Your final option is psychotherapy in combination with medication. I do not believe this will be necessary however as it sounds like the issue is not spreading into other areas of your life notably at this particular point.

      All you need a doctor for is a referral to a psychologist, unless you can afford going private in which case you can choose your own doctor. I think you will find that a good psychologist will not be dismissive of this. I would be wary of diagnosing over the web and based on so little information but it certainly sounds like a form of eurotophobia or kolpophobia with some peculiarities that a good exchange with a competent doctor will be properly assess.

      Feel free to throw kolpophobia at a doctor you need a referral from. If they are not familiar with it it is because they are not trained in psychology in which case you can ask them to kindly direct you to someone who is familiar with it and may be able to help!

      Please let us know how the hunt for resolution goes!


      Apologies for probing, but do you have any family background of psychiatric illness? I am not suggesting you have a psychiatric condition, but background is an important factor.

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    • Posted

      Firstly, wow! Thank you so much, I've received far, far better care from your comments on this forum than I have from doctors my whole life!!

      I will certainly ensure I get back to the doctors and refer to what you've said and hopefully I'll get refered on. If I did decide to go private, what kind of psychiatrist should I look for do you know? Would they specialise in any particular field?

      I'm relieved to hear someone else has gone through a similar problem even if the details do differ, it makes me feel a little more normal and a little less weird.

      In relation to what you said about other anxieties manifesting through this what kind of thing would that include? As that could be possible, I am naturally a very anxious person and a worrier and was wondering whether that could be a contributing factor? Or I may be way off.

      In regard to psychiatric illness in my family I wouldn't save there's much that's really relevant. Depression has been very prevalent for a few members of my family, possible paranoia and OCD through two others but I'm not sure how that would impact this?

      I too am cautious of online diagnosis, however it's nice to have some labels thrown around as an idea of it actually being something fixable and not just something I have to live with.

      All the best, am planning to book the doctors Monday thanks to your help so thank you very, very much x

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    • Posted

      Hi Carrie. You are welcome. I am however mortified at the fact that doctors would just let this slide. It is beyond me. No you are not just 'being weird' and this is not something you should just 'deal with' and it is really not just 'mind over matter'. It is a legitimate condition for which there is legitimate therapy. I find your experience really frightening. You chose to seek answers. Imagine how many people out there would just live with it if dropped by doctors. Further, these kinds of conditions, left untreated, can escalate notably and really disrupt one's life in various ways. They could also move beyond the initial topic and spread to various other phobias, behavioural and mood disorders.

      If you opt to go private, I would look for a clinical psychologist who is also trained in psychoanalysis. OR a psychiatrist/neuropsychiatrist also trained in psychoanalytic therapy. As mentioned I would avoid hypnotherapists at this stage. 

      You will also require CBT so jackpot would really be a clinical psychologist/psychiatrist trained in psychoanalysis and CBT smile if you can't find one I would settle for a plain old clinical psychologist - plenty of those. You can look for one with experience in phobias and OCD. Most will have experience in both. A psychiatrist may recommend medication alongside therapy, be aware of this. There is no right or wrong and the best way forward will become apparent as you start delving into this.

      Good luck with doctors moving forward. Hope you resolve it fast and feel better.

      Let us know how it goes.

      If you are prone to anxiety, but were never diagnosed with anxiety disorder or depressive disorders, plain anxiety is likely not the cause. If there is family background of more notable related conditions including OCD this may be pertinent for your therapist. They will explore your overall condition and tendencies and assess the best way to approach your manifesting concern along with any other potential borderline symptoms. (Everyone has some borderline psychopathology, at least mild neuroses so don't worry about that part too much biggrin

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  • Posted

    I’m super relieved to hear someone dealing with the EXACT thing I deal with. Only thing is I don’t faint at the words or thoughts, I actually feel the need to cry. Even shown an imagine of the reproductive system (only for female) I want to cry.

    I also have an odd case of hemaphobia in that, once again, don’t faint, but I want to cry. Not even for all blood either, it’s only certain scenarios, such as the thought of tampons, or specific images of people covered in blood. But when I see blood in real life, I handle it just fine, I don’t know if that’s my instincts being strong or not. 

    And I also tend to cry at the thought of the menstrual cycle, but once again I handle it just fine when it happens, except for sometimes when I feel overexposed, such as leaks and stains, or even being shamed by guys who think it is funny, or who think women are the worst things ever. All these things are oddly interrelated and I cannot wrap my head around it. 

    Im at a younger age, and I’m not comfortable seeking a doctor, because I don’t want other family members involved in this. But I will seek help later on in life if it still bothers me as much as it does now. 

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    • Posted

      I used to have a great fear of anything gynaecological: for over 10 years nothing went in my vagina. I don't have that fear now. I'm afraid mine is a bit of a sad story. Because of my fear I stopped going for smear tests only to end up with a stage 2 cervical cancer. The utter shock of my diagnosis and all the treatment I've had to go through has made internal investigations, such as smear tests, seem like a walk in the park. Ironically I now have to perform vaginal dilation 3 times a week to stop my vagina narrowing (a side effect of radiotherapy). With hindsight I now put my fear down to lack of familiarity with my body. If I had my time again I would familiarise myself with my genitalia as follows: looking with a mirror, using a good quality small vibrator and a good quality lubricant. The latter is what I've had to do to enable me to carry out dilation. There's no need to put oneself under pressure but just take it slowly one step at a time. Some of the websites selling vibrators offer good health advice.

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