10 Steps: Completely Overcome Vaginismus Book Review
10 Steps Completely Overcome Vaginismus: The Practical Approach to Pain-Free Intercourse
Authors: Mark Carter and Lisa Carter
Year Published: 2004
Main topics Covered: Anatomy, Steps to overcome Vaginismus, Tips for partners of those with vaginismus
Written for: Women experiencing vaginismus, Male partners of women experiencing vaginismus, Therapists/Clinicians, Heterosexuals
Recommended for: Clinicians/Therapists and Clients
Perspectives taken: This book takes a biological and cognitive perspective. The book explains that vaginismus can be overcome by retraining your body and reframing your thoughts.
Type of Resource: Psycho-educational book with steps laid out to overcome vaginismus
APA Citation: Carter, M., & Carter, L. (2004). Completely overcome vaginismus. United States: M. & L. Carter.
Completely Overcome Vaginismus (2004) illustrates the physiology involved in the women’s body, and how vaginismus can be overcome by training one’s body and reformulating one’s thoughts. By explaining vaginismus in a way that enables one to make the change in themselves, the authors encourage self-exploration as a starting point to overcoming vaginismus. The book presents vaginismus as a biological event that either starts from birth or is acquired later in life through negative sexual experiences. Therefore, the authors present the ways in which vaginismus starts, and also the steps that can be taken in order for change to happen.
This book is written for those struggling with vaginismus, but is also very useful for therapists and clinicians. The authors do a great job at illustrating what vaginismus is, how it works in the body, and how it can be overcome mentally and physically. The main trajectory of this book is to help individuals overcome vaginismus by recognizing the physiology of the vagina and how the PC muscles contract and then practicing changing how their PC muscles reacts to certain environmental stimuli. The book does a great job at building up to the main act of sex slowly, and using many clear direct steps to get there. The authors first address the main biology of the sex organs, and then move to illustrating the insertion of items such as tampons and Q-tips. The book then goes into the explanation of dilators, illustrating where they can be bought and the different types and sizes that can be used. Lastly it moves on to partner work, where the female with vaginismus and her male partner learn to pleasure each other before the act of sex is performed.
Completely Overcome Vaginismus is written in a very humanizing way, as the authors acknowledge throughout the book the feelings involved with having vaginismus. The book illustrates the 10-step plan to overcome vaginismus very clearly, while also acknowledging that the process of overcoming vaginismus is not an easy thing to do. It demonstrates how an event in an individual’s past may have caused them to develop vaginismus. Completely Overcome Vaginismus includes steps to uncover the history of an individual’s past that may have contributed to the involuntary contractions of the PC muscles. It includes good graphics clearly illustrating biology, the insertions, and as well the steps in between insertions and sex. This book is an inexpensive alternative to physiotherapy or sex therapy, as the authors do a wonderful job at clearly explaining and illustrating all of the steps involved.
One thing to note is that the authors talk only about heterosexual sex in this book. This is concerning for non-heterosexual women who experience vaginismus, as this resource does not address them. This heteronormative lens is illustrated in the fact that only penis shaped dilators are talked about, and that the partners talked about in the book are always heterosexual males. This book follows the assumption that all women experiencing vaginismus are heterosexual, and that the end goal of curing vaginismus is to have heteronormative sex. Practitioners planning to recommend this book to clients should be aware of this heteronormative bias, and warn clients as needed.
About the Authors:
Lisa and Mark Carter are a married couple that have experienced vaginismus first hand. Lisa holds an undergraduate degree in psychology and a graduate degree in medical rehabilitation, while Mark is an educator and a writer. Lisa struggled through the experience, and hoped to bring affected women hope, healing, and freedom from their vaginismus. Together they felt a need to create a well-researched, effective, and easily accessible resource to help the treatment of vaginismus. They have also created other books and resources for individuals dealing with vaginismus to help them overcome the disorder.
Review written by Westland Researcher Rachelle Diamond