Vaginismus is something that a lot of people don’t seem to have heard of, which is surprising really 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”.
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 make going for your smear test absolute hell. Your vaginal muscles tense up all by themselves and theres nothing you can do about it.
Theres a more in depth explanation on the NHS Choice website, complete with how to get a diagnosis and all the professional treatment options available.
As I’ve mentioned before, I was brought up in a really strict religion. Combine the crap they tell you about sex and masturbation with a not-so-great first sexual relationship and you end up with a really negative view of sex.
Up until meeting Chris a year ago 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.
He’s such a cutie!
Turns out we didn’t need to worry; the first time we slept together there was absolutely no pain! I was so shocked I started laughing and confused the hell out of Chris. Not the reaction he was expecting…
Then again it wasn’t what I was expecting either! I’d been so worried that it would hurt, so when it didn’t it was such a relief. I’d been happily single for two years before meeting Chris and during that time I’d been working on improving my attitude and the way I thought about sex. Seems like it worked.
Since then I’ve been able to have pain free sex. Of course there are days where I relapse slightly and it ends up being uncomfortable; thats unavoidable really. But now I know what I can do to help myself relax and Chris is so supportive with it; everything is always at my speed and I know that he would stop the second I asked him to.
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.
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.
Instead take your time and build up to it with lots of foreplay. If you’re partner is a decent human being they’ll not want to cause you pain & 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.
Crude I know, but I thought calling 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 felt myself tense. I’d then take a minute to mentally relax myself and wait for it to pass, 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- 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.
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 alone suffering with this condition (I didn’t even know it had a name until years later) and thinking this made the whole experience even worse. To know that its 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…
This was definitely the hardest part for me, but once I accepted what had gone on and choose to not let it effect my life anymore (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.
Have you struggled with Vaginismus yourself? What has helped you?
A twenty-four-year-old autistic writer and designer from Sheffield. Tattoo obsessed, animal lover, self confessed bookworm and eclectic witch.