Vaginismus: What Is It and How You Can Start To Recover From It

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Vaginismus is something that a lot of people don’t seem to have heard of, which is surprising when you realise that it’s something a lot of women struggle with.

It normally rears its ugly head after a traumatic incident: giving birth, a bad experience with the smear or after some form of bad sexual experience.

It can also be a product of a strict and/or religious upbringing where you are repeatedly told that sex is bad and that it is a “sin”, so you see it in a negative light.

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Vaginismus is the bodies automatic reaction to the thought of something going into your vagina.

This isn’t just sexual either, it happens when you try to use a tampon or mensural cup too and can make going for your smear test a difficult and painful experience.

There’s a more in-depth explanation on the NHS Choice website, complete with how to get a diagnosis and all the professional treatment options available which I’d encourage you to check out.

As I’ve mentioned before, I was brought up in a pretty strict religion.

Combine that with a not-so-great first sexual relationship and I’ve ended up with a really negative view of sex.

[Related: The Importance Of Being Sex Positive]

Up until meeting Chris, I’d never been able to have sex without pain, or at least some discomfort.

I’d made sure to tell him about my “problem” when we first started dating and he was really supportive and understanding about the whole thing.

He said he didn’t care as he loved me and if we couldn’t have sex then so be it; he’d rather go without than cause me pain.

Which is ridiculously sweet, especially after the problems I had with my ex!

Turns out we didn’t need to worry as the first time we slept together there was absolutely no pain.

I’d been single for two years before meeting him, and I’d used that time to try and deal with some of the underlying causes of my vaginismus, as well as become more sex and body confident.

Pale pink flowers resting on a wooden table, with lit candles and two Croissants on a white plate
Photo by Ellieelien on Unsplash

But even with the progress, I knew I had made, I’d been so worried that my vaginismus would be a problem and could potentially ruin our relationship that is was a real shock not to feel any pain at all.

Since then I’ve been able to have sex without pain, although it’s started to become a problem again since I had to go back on the pill injection.

Luckily I’ve learnt some tricks to help myself relax when this happens (seriously can’t recommend investing in good vibrator enough, as it’s been such a help!) and Chris is so supportive with it.

Everything is always at my speed.

I know that he would stop the second he saw I was in the slightest bit of pain, and if I said I can’t go through with full sex he wouldn’t make me feel guilty, he’d simply ask if I wanted to do anything else or just stop and cuddle.

Okay, so disclaimer time; obviously I’m not a medical professional and everything I write here is from my own personal experiences with Vaginismus.

If this is something you think you may have yourself, please go speak to either a doctor or drop in at a sexual health clinic.

Don’t push yourself

It might be tempting to think you can cope with the pain and just get on with it, especially if you’re in a relationship with someone you love; but this will do more harm than good.

Your brain will begin to associate sex with pain, tensing up in expectation of the pain and refuse to relax, no matter how much you might actually want sex.

This will make things ten times worse than they already were, meaning you’ll have an even longer road to recovery.

A lit candle sitting on top of a white wool jumper
Photo by Ellieelien on Unsplash

Instead, take your time and build up to it with lots of foreplay.

If your partner is a decent human being they’ll not want to cause you pain and also want you to enjoy it too, so make sure you talk about it!

I know it can be embarrassing but it will really help in the long run if they understand as much about the condition as possible.

Do It Yourself

Crude I know, but I thought to call it “Masturbate!” would be even worse.

Anyway, you can get items called dilators which are insertable items of varying thickness.

The smallest is a little thicker than your finger and the largest is, in all honesty, a lot thicker than the average guy- that one got thrown straight in the bin!

These combined with a vibrator and lube were a big help to me.

Because I was completely in control I could take it slow and stop when I feel myself tense up, then take a minute to mentally relax, wait for it to pass, and then carry on.

You’re advised to work your way through the sizes; start at the smallest and when you feel completely comfortable with that, move on to the next size up.

After a while, you’ll notice your body no longer tenses up as much, and eventually, it should hopefully stop doing it completely!

If you’re in a relationship, they recommend you not having sex with your partner at all while doing this as it kind of defeats the objective of using them.

Let’s face it; there’s plenty of other things you can do together and it will be worth it in the long run.

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Photo by Ellieelien on Unsplash

Talk to a friend or family member

This one took me so long to do but once I had, I felt so much better.

Keeping it locked away like it’s some kind of “dirty little secret” only reinforces the mentality that this is something bad.

I know I personally thought I was just weird and I didn’t even know it had a name until years later.

Thinking this made the whole experience even worse.

To know that vaginismus is actually quite common and you aren’t the only one can help so much.

It can also help with the next point which is to…

Come to terms with what caused it

This was definitely the hardest part for me, but once I accepted what had gone on and choose to not let it affect my life anymore (which was easier said than done) I noticed a change.

It was like a weight had been lifted and I found it easier to think about it all.

I’m naturally stubborn and managed to use this to my advantage; I refused to let it beat me.

Do you struggle with Vaginismus yourself? Have you found anything that’s helped you?

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Vaginismus: What Is It And How Can You Start To Recover From It

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  • Bella says:

    Such a good post Jade! I didn’t know much about vaginismus (admittedly because I don’t suffer with it myself) but I’m happy to know more about it and understand it more now! Well done for sharing your experience too 🙂

  • Jade Marie says:

    Thank you so much Bella! 🙂 I was so nervous about posting it but I’m glad it’s been well received 🙂

  • I’ve never actually heard of this before! I’m so glad you have decided to speak out with your own experiences and can actually help others who are the same x

  • Jade Marie says:

    Everyone has been saying that! There definitely needs to be more awareness on it as it effects so many people at one point in their lives x

  • Soffy says:

    Had no idea this was even a thing! I think it’s very brave of you to share this and to raise awareness x

    Soffy //

  • You definitely didn’t need to be embarrassed about posting this! It’s so important that you have. Problems like this – or really, anything involving a vagina – is so taboo and I have no idea why so the more people talk about things like it the better. Chris sounds like an absolute sweetheart, no wonder you didn’t feel any pain when you’re with him, you must feel so comfortable and safe with him. You’re very lucky! I’ve started getting a bit of pain during sex to be honest, around the entrance. It stings like a mother-f! I don’t know what causes it but I might go and have it looked it. It certainly does’t make things pleasant, I dread sex sometimes xxx

  • Alys says:

    This is such a brave thing to talk about, I think female sexual health is often swept under the carpet and people can often feel isolated in their experiences. It’s great to see people opening up a dialogue about it! Thanks for sharing☺️

  • Jade Marie says:

    Thank you so much! A lot of people have been saying that they’d never heard of it before which sadly doesn’t surprise me x

  • Jade Marie says:

    Thank you so much Jenny! One of the main reasons I wanted to post this is because of the weird stigma that seems to be around a sex and vaginas!
    Chris really is a sweetheart, you’re right I’m so relaxed and feel so safe around him 🙂
    And oh that’s not good to hear hun 🙁 I’d definitely speak to someone about it before it gets any worse- especially since you’ve already said you’re starting to dread sex 🙁 xxx

  • Jade Marie says:

    Thank you so much lovely! ☺️ I’m glad to have started a dialog and hopefully people in this situation will find it helpful!

  • I have never heard of this so thank you for sharing and educating me. This is a fantastic , brave and personal post which opens the door for conversations. I’m sure this post will help loads of ladies out there ❤️

    Melanie |

  • Jade Marie says:

    Thank you so much hun! I’m glad to have helped educate you and hopefully it will open the door to conversations for people who also struggle with this! 🖤

  • MeganSays says:

    Thank you for raising awareness! I actually had a panic attack mid-smear due to vaginismus (10/10 for
    timing) and it was honestly one of the worst experiences of my life! Also – Chris sounds so sweet, I’m so happy for you 🙂

  • Hello Bexa says:

    This is such a brave and important post. Thank you for sharing. I didn’t know much about this condition so learned a lot from your post. Well done for talking about sexual issues so openly and honestly. It will definitely help others going through something similar and make them feel less alone. Great post <3

    Bexa |

  • Jade Marie says:

    Oh hun that’s horrible! Definitely the worst timing 🙁 I’ve not had a smear yet technically but I had to have the device put in to see if there was a physical reason for the pain (my ex made me believe it was my fault and I was stupid enough to not tell the doctors the whole story).
    I hope you can work through it and get to the point where there’s no pain 🤞🏼 I honestly wouldn’t EOS vaginismus on my worst enemy 🙁
    And thank you- he really is bless him! ☺️

  • Jade Marie says:

    Thank you so much Bexa! I’d been wanting to post this for months but didn’t dare as it’s so personal, but the reaction I’ve had has been so positive- I’m so glad I posted it now! Sex is definitely a subject that needs to be spoken about more, so hopefully this will help with the strange taboo around it 🤞🏼🖤

  • MeganSays says:

    I still haven’t worked up the courage to go back and try and get the smear done again but thankfully I haven’t had any pain during sex or anything like that recently! X

  • Jade Marie says:

    Oh well that’s definitely a positive! I’d recommend talking to the person doing it before hand; tell them what happened the last time and ask them to use the smallest device possible to reduce the risk of it hurting ☺️ best of luck lovely!x

  • Danielle Clark @ says:

    I actually know a little bit about this topic and I agree that it should be discussed more than it currently is. Its difficult topics like this one that make women feel alone in their struggle. I’m so happy you ended up making the decision to share this as I know it wasn’t an easy decision to make!

  • Jade Marie says:

    Thank you so much lovely! It wasn’t easy (I put it off nearly 6 months in all honesty) but I’m glad to have helped start conversations on the topic. Hopefully it will help people feel less alone and break the taboo around sex!

  • Dippalli says:

    Thank you for sharing this, I had never heard of the condition! Im glad you have managed to overcome it x

  • Jade Marie says:

    Thank you lovely! And that one of the main reasons I wanted to share it- so many people suffer in silence because they think it’s normal or just them 🙁 x

  • hudapervez says:

    I actually had no idea what this was!
    This was quite informative so thanks for sharing this as not many people would be willing to talk about it! 💗

  • Jade Marie says:

    I’ve actually had people messaging me privately to talk about their own struggles with this so I’m so glad I posted it ☺️ we need to stop this stigma around things that are perfectly natural 🖤

  • Jessica says:

    Such an informative post! Thank you so much for sharing! All this stigma is ridiculous and it’s nice to see somebody making a difference! x

  • Jade Marie says:

    Thank you so much for saying that hun! 😊 it’s definitely something that needs more awareness, so many people think it’s normal which is the worst thing!x

  • Milli says:

    Girl, huge appreciation for sharing this post!! It’s absolutely something that should be discussed more and I’m really happy to hear it’s something you’ve overcome ☺️🙌🏻


  • What a great post! I have to say I have never heard of Vaginismus, so this post was really interesting and informative.

  • Jade Marie says:

    Thank you so much Milli! ☺️ hopefully posts like this are the first steps to getting more people to talk about it and getting rid of the taboo 🤞🏼☺️

  • Jade Marie says:

    Thank you lovely, I’m glad you found it informative! It’s such a common condition, it’s sad how few people (especially women) don’t know about it and end up thinking it’s normal for sex to be painful/uncomfortable 😔

  • Thanks for writing this post, it was really informative!! I’d heard of it before, but so many people haven’t. I’m really glad you found someone patient and loving 🙂 xx

  • Jade Marie says:

    Thank you lovely! 😊 since writing this I’ve realised just how many people have never heard of it or who suffer in silence because they think it’s “normal” 😔 xx

  • This is such an informative post Jade! I know quite a lot about vaginismus because I have had a similar experience to you. Thank you for sharing your experience 🙂x

  • Jade Marie says:

    I’m so glad you liked my post and found it informative ☺️ although I’m sorry to hear you’ve had a similar experience! 😔 x

  • Anonymous says:

    Oh thank you so much for the statement “…the largest is, in all honesty, a lot thicker than the average guy- that one got thrown straight in the bin!” My wife has vaginismus which we did not find out about until during our 39th year of marriage and I am “a lot thicker than the average guy” so it has taken a very long time until she has been able to “accommodate” me and actually she should be using the next two dilators to be really comfortable with my size but for some reason she refuses to so it takes several minutes of her breathing exercises and slow motions on top before we can really have intercourse.

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