I Got Botox In My Vagina And It Changed My Life

For years, I struggled with vaginal pain. And then Botox changed that.

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Hello, fellow people with vaginas and people without, my name is Lara, and for basically my entire adult life I've had Vagina Problems™.

Macey J Foronda for BuzzFeed

To get into even MORE specifics, I've officially been diagnosed with the following conditions within the last five years of my life:

1. Vaginismus (basically, tightness of the vaginal muscles).

2. Vulvodynia (chronic vulvar pain without cause).

3. Vulvar vestibulitis (severe pain during attempted vaginal entry, whether it be intercourse or tampons).

4. Interstitial cystitis (painful bladder sometimes caused by pelvic floor dysfunction).

4. Endometriosis (when endometrial tissue is found outside the uterus on other parts of the body).

5. And overall pelvic floor dysfunction as a result of all of this. (Not being able to control your pelvic floor muscles. FUN!!)

To get not so specific, MY VAGINA HURTS A LOT. In fact, it hurts me so much that vaginal intercourse has never been possible for me.

Lara Parker

And after years of physical therapy and dilator work (using a tool to expand the muscles in your vagina), I still wasn't making much progress in the ol' vagina department.

So when I began reading about Botox as a treatment for my conditions, I was ready as hell to try it. Because, quite frankly, I would try just about anything to get rid of my pain.

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I tried for several months to find an OB-GYN who could perform the procedure for me, but even in Los Angeles, I had basically no luck. That's because Botox is not yet FDA-approved to treat vaginal issues, despite several studies currently being conducted on its effects on vaginal and pelvic floor pain.

BuzzFeed Motion Pictures / Lara Parker

For that reason, it can be incredibly difficult to find gynecologists who provide these treatments for their patients — or plastic surgeons who are also trained in vulvovaginal disorders. Finally, I heard about The Roxbury Institute, a plastic surgery center in Beverly Hills that specializes in customized procedures (and works with outside doctors like gynecologists) aka getting Botox in your vagina!

At The Roxbury Institute, I worked with Dr. Jaime Schwartz, a board-certified plastic surgeon, and Dr. Mickey Karram, renowned urogynecologist and pelvic surgeon.

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We sat down and they explained the procedure to me. The reason they thought Botox would be a good option for me is because Botox is a neurotoxin injection.

Basically, what that means is that Botox stops muscles from contracting. And a lot of times when women have conditions similar to mine, their muscles are in a constant state of contraction...which is what causes the pain! So if Botox stops this, ideally it would stop the pain as well.

According to the doctors I spoke with, vaginal Botox injections can be effective for up to six months, and you may need additional injections to maintain the pain relief. But because vaginal Botox is relatively new and still being researched, there are no official treatment guidelines yet.

Then all of a sudden...it was time to get injected. Going into the procedure, I was so nervous. I mean, who wouldn't be? I was about to get very long needles stuck into my very sensitive vaginal area.

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But I was mostly nervous that it wouldn’t work. For the past seven-plus years, I’ve tried so many different things to relieve my pain with these conditions, and very little helped. I felt so hopeful about this procedure for the first time in a long time, and I didn’t want to be let down…again. That would truly crush me.

The whole thing took about 10 minutes. It hurt, pretty badly, but I was able to do it by using laughing gas (nitrous oxide) and reminding myself that it would be so worth it in the end.

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There was a time in my life when I couldn't even handle inserting a tampon, and I had just made it through long needles in my vagina...it was worth celebrating. So celebrate I did.

It took me two years of physical therapy to get to a medium-sized dilator. But when I used it post-Botox, it went right in and I didn’t even freaking feel it. I was so overcome with emotion at that time that I just started bawling. They were definitely happy tears.

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And when I tried to use the largest size? I did it, with little problem. But I did feel like I had to pee pretty much constantly. Small price to pay.

The next test was going to physical therapy — normally a place of extreme dread. But with Botox, physical therapy was a totally different experience. I was able to handle most of the exercises with little discomfort. And while it wasn't 100% pain-free — I'm not sure it ever will be — it was such an improvement I almost couldn't believe it.

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Botox isn’t a cure-all. I’ll need to put in A LOT of work on my own to get to where I want to be. Botox was the ultimate jumping-off point, don't get me wrong, but to truly get the results I want, I have to use dilators and go to physical therapy and do my stretches every day. BUT, with that being said, the difference between physical therapy before Botox and after Botox was honestly astounding.

As far as sexual intercourse goes — well, it still isn't that easy. Maybe it won't be for a while. But the progress I have already made with Botox and physical therapy makes me wonder if that day is as far away as I think.

Plus, dealing with these conditions for the past several years has taught me that there are many ways to be intimate that do not include actual penetration.

At the end of the day — getting Botox injected into my vagina truly changed my life. But it was also a reminder of just how much farther we still have to go.

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I made so much progress with Botox, but I was also reminded that there currently is no magic cure for the conditions that I live with. Trying to lessen the pain on a daily basis requires a lot of work and time. And these conditions are often misdiagnosed or not given the research and time they deserve. I look forward to the day when Botox and other treatments for these conditions are more readily available and affordable for every woman who has to suffer. Because having vagina problems? Well, it sucks. But with continued research and awareness, maybe it won't have to forever.

If you are like me and live with Vagina Problems™, there are several clinical trials currently recruiting, as well as one specifically recruiting for women with endometriosis. Or, if you live in Southern California, you can contact The Roxbury Institute and work with the doctors I worked with!

Botox injections were provided to BuzzFeed free of charge; they normally cost around $300-$500 per injection.