We chat with the founder of a local organization that’s raising awareness and hosting a fun event that helps you “jump” in on the cause.
Cincy Chic: What is Lady’s Sparrow Foundation?
Elaine Hoffman, Executive Director at Lady’s Sparrow Foundation: Lady’s Sparrow Foundation is focused on a woman’s sexual disorder called, vaginismus. I like to explain vaginismus as a panic attack in the pelvic muscles. It can be caused by sexual assault, being raised that sex is dirty, menopause, cancer, or even something as simple as a yeast infection. This can result in painful sex but also the inability of receiving gynecology exams, and creating a family. These women often struggle with relationships, low confidence, self-worthlessness, and, often, depression. The numbers of women suffering are astounding and they come from all walks of life. With the severe lack of awareness and education surrounding vaginismus, many women feel like they are all alone and with no answers or treatment options.
Cincy Chic: What’s the inspiration behind the foundation?
Hoffman: The inspiration behind LSF is my own personal journey. In my efforts to find answers and help, I was stumbling upon forums filled with women and their heartbreaking stories. Stories of avoidance in life, stories of them cringing any time their husband would just touch her arm because she knew she could not provide him intimacy, stories of honeymoons turning into a week of tears, and stories of women contemplating causing a severe car accident so they would either be paralyzed or dead and then there would be an excuse. There were also stories of the men grasping to every last straw they could to save their relationship, men struggling with depression because of the pain and turmoil in their relationship.
Every story was unique but what they all had in common what the lack of accessible resources. The great thing about vaginismus is that it is 100% treatable, we just need to create a world that acknowledges this very real problem and provide help. That is what Lady’s Sparrow Foundation is setting out to do! Since we launched in January, I have meet such incredible women and all with their own story of pain but after we talk you can hear this excitement and relief in their voice that they now know they are not alone, that someone understands them, and help is available. It never gets old and bring tears of joy and excitement knowing that they are getting ready to finally have their life back and experience the passion that it is.
Cincy Chic: Who’s behind Lady’s Sparrow Foundation?
Hoffman: I’m the Founder and Executive Director for LSF, but I could not have gotten this far without my amazing board. The determination and heart they have is unrivaled. We intend on shaking things up in amazing ways. We also work with two professionals that leave me at a loss of words on how wonderful they are. Dr. Javaid, a gynecologist who truly gets it. When you walk into her office you would think you were walking into a spa and then when you speak with her you know her heart is completely in it. This is such a crucial piece for these women who suffer with high anxiety. We also work with Emma Schmidt, who is a sex therapist. She has a way of making you feel like you are talking with your best friend, yet has a wealth of knowledge to elevate the recovery process.
Cincy Chic: Are there any upcoming events for the Lady’s Sparrow Foundation?
Hoffman: Yes! Our first annual Fly Free Jump Event. On June 18 we will be hosting a skydiving event and party up in Middletown at Start Skydiving. People will have a chance to self-fundraise for their jump and then celebrate it afterwards with food, drinks, music, and friends. Not only will all proceeds be going straight to LSF but it will be empowering the women suffering to seek help and conquer their fears. By these women seeing individuals show courage and jump out of a plane for them, they are seeing that they are not alone in this world and they have a large group of people stepping up to support them as they being this new journey.
Cincy Chic: How are you aiming to help women in the Greater Cincinnati area?
Hoffman: We are helping the Greater Cincinnati women in numerous ways. I regularly sit down with women who have been struggling with vaginismus. The first step for these women is knowing they are not alone, there are many others standing in those same shoes, and we are here to help and be a friend to them. We are with them through the entire process if they want us to be. From the first step of reaching out for treatment, through the journey of recovery, and then as their life finally falls back into place. We are hear to listen with absolutely no judgement and full of compassion.
Also, by working with Dr. Javaid and Emma Schmidt we have a place here in Cincinnati that understands vaginismus and the treatment process. This is extremely hard for women to find and I believe we have one of the best treatment programs in the country. We will continue to elevate our outreach insuring each individual can get the help they need regardless of circumstances.
Cincy Chic: Is there anything new on the horizon for the Lady’s Sparrow Foundation?
Hoffman: We have a lot of exciting things developing! Currently we are working on developing a program called the “Vagi-What?” Tour. This program will travel across the country to universities, colleges, and women’s groups, educating them on vaginismus. We strongly believe that our college generation is our future everything. Our future physicians, therapist, mothers, sisters, husbands, and best friends. If we can educate our future on vaginismus and the treatment options that are available, we a can start to build a world with a better support system for the millions suffering. We also want to start the conversation and inspire it to continue beyond the program. If we can get our general society acknowledging vaginismus then these women will be release from the feelings of isolation and worthlessness.
Currently we have 26 drugs for men’s sexual health. Women only have one and that has been a very recent endeavor. By shining a light on women’s sexual health and empowerment we can change this. We also have several exciting and unique events coming up throughout this year. At Lady’s Sparrow Foundation, we are determined to be different and stand out from the crowd. The events are going to be something Cincinnati hasn’t seen before. They are going to be a blast and there will be something for everyone. With our events will create a voice so loud the silence surrounding vaginismus will be shattered and we will also be having a ton of fun doing it!
Cincy Chic: Where can readers go to learn more about Lady’s Sparrow Foundation?
Hoffman: Visit us at our website, on Facebook, or on Instagram. Our website has a wealth of knowledge on vaginismus, the foundation, contact information to us as well as Dr. Javaid and Emma Schmidt, and a blog that continues to educate our audience. You can also learn more about the Fly Free Jump Event on our website or on Facebook.