Growing Up with Vaginismus, The Overlaps Between Pelvic Pain Conditions and Making a Film About Your Vagina with Shelby Hadden of Tightly Wound
This week on the podcast I'm talking to Shelby Hadden, Writer, Director and Producer of short animated film Tightly Wound. Shelby Hadden grew up with vaginismus, a condition which causes involuntary contractions of the pelvic floor muscles that tighten the vaginal entrance, causing pain, penetration problems, and an inability to have intercourse. Last year Shelby created a Kickstarter to make a film raising awareness about the condition, with her good friend Sebastian Bisbal, and not only did they exceed their target - the world came out to back her. I talk to Shelby about how it felt to grow up as a teenager with such a difficult condition, how she's worked to become vaginismus free, how medical professionals failed to find an answer and the link between vaginismus, pelvic floor dysfunction and endometriosis. I'm just letting you know now - there's a lot of sex talk!
Chatting with Shelby was fascinating. When going into our conversation, I really didn't know much about vaginismus at all, except for what I'd seen in her teaser trailer and what I read online. Speaking about vaginismus and Shelby's experience was not only educational, but encouraging - to hear her story of transformation with the condition, as well as her determination to make change, be brave and talk about it.
Yet again, this podcast has reminded me how essential it is that we talk about these conditions. Shelby wasn't diagnosed by a doctor; she self-diagnosed and her diagnosis was then confirmed by a physical therapist - it reminds me of my own journey to diagnosis with endo, and so many others' journeys.
On top of this, vaginismus and pelvic floor dysfunction can be caused by a number of things, one of them potentially being chronic pain in the pelvic area. Vaginismus. com states "It [endometriosis] is a common cause of pelvic pain that, like other pain causing conditions, may cause or contribute to problems with vaginismus and/or may coexist with vaginismus on an ongoing basis. As a result, women may need to address both conditions before they are able to fully restore pain-free intercourse."
It just goes to show you how much these issues are interlinked and overlapped. It seems to me that it would make sense that those with pelvic conditions are made aware of the other conditions, so that they don't spend another 10 years trying to get another diagnosis.
Tightly Wound (the essay) in BUST Magazine
Shelby will be speaking at Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit (DC, August 3-6)