I struggled with vaginismus for as long as I can remember and did not find out about the existence of this condition until a couple of years ago.
Growing up in a very religious and conservative family, I was never really encouraged to explore my body.
I started worrying when I got my period and attempted to insert tampons.
It was impossible due to the usual symptoms: tightness, pain, dizziness and nausea.
Some years later…
I began to hear some of my friends’ first-time-sex horror stories and was terrified, so I started overthinking about the whole loss-of-virginity and hymen-breaking thing (which I later discovered is a total myth), which created a lot of additional anxiety around first time sex.
My attempts to have penetrative sex with diverse partners were very frustrating and extremely painful.
I was in a relationship for almost seven years and still could not bring myself to do it.
This was incredibly draining, psychologically, emotionally, and physically…
My partner was immensely patient and respectful, but every time we tried and failed to have sex, I blamed myself, felt I did not deserve his love and compassion and thought I was broken.
I went to two or three different gynaecologists, but they all said I was just tight and should try to relax and use lube.
The slightest attempt to perform a gynaecological examination was incredibly painful. I began linking sex with traumatic experiences.
I discovered I had vaginismus…
Because I started doing online research.
No one had ever told me this condition was even a possibility. My partner and I ended up avoiding sex altogether (which was heart-breaking) and I split up with him.
My therapist helped me understand that I did not need to feel guilty for “owing” my partner penetrative sex, and that I absolutely deserved his love, patience, and respect.
Psychological therapy was VERY useful and helped me gather strength to seek more help.
I eventually found a gynaecological centre (here in Spain)…
With specialists who worked on vaginismus combining gynaecology, sexology, and pelvic floor therapy.
I found the first doctor to ever acknowledge I had vaginismus.
She told me this condition is more common than it seems, that I wasn’t alone, and that we were going to fix it.
After a very gentle and non-invasive look at my vagina, she told me I had an imperforate hymen. This is a congenital disorder caused by a failure of the hymen to perforate during fetal development – it’s essentially a hymen without an opening completely obstructs the vagina.
None of the other doctors had seen this because I hadn’t been able to relax enough for them to realize (and they just didn’t seem to be bothered, honestly)!
I also talked with a sexologist and she told me my vaginismus was not primary vaginismus per se, since I had just accumulated a huge amount of anxiety around the idea of penetrative sex because of the pain I felt due to my imperforate hymen in the first place.
Basically, my genital pain was due to a physical cause, but anxiety and stress had made it worse during years by tightening my pelvic muscles.
This was the solution to my pelvic pain:
My hymen was removed through surgery (I was sedated so it didn’t hurt at all) and, after that, a pelvic floor therapist taught me to relax my pelvic muscles and start gradual insertions using lube.
This is HIGHLY recommendable.
I started (very slowly and patiently) inserting fingers, then tampons, and then I felt confident and relaxed enough to start trying with a vibrator (the first days it was only the tip, then, little by little, I managed to insert the rest, VERY slowly and with lots of lube!).
I was healed within a month!
I started having casual penetrative sex and was amazed and overwhelmed to feel absolutely no pain at all! When I say “healed”, I mean, physically healed.
Vaginismus is usually emotionally devastating and I’m still working on that.
I am happy to say I’m now in a relationship with a wonderful boy and am enjoying my life free of vaginismus.
Sometimes, if we haven’t had sex for a while, I still have to ask him to go slow at first (I told him the whole story and he was very understanding) and we use lube, but it’s fine after a couple of minutes.
Overcoming vaginismus has been one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life. I had to struggle with anxiety, depression, loneliness, self-loathing, envy towards other girls, and many other things.
But, although it has been extremely hard, it has also strengthened me and taught me several lessons.
1. You are NOT ALONE.
There are plenty of other girls living with vaginismus/pelvic pain, with very similar experiences.
Sharing our stories, helping, encouraging and advising each other through online communities is CRUCIAL. I remember spending hours reading other vaginismus stories online.
I cried when I read other girls’ symptoms and recognized them as my own, but I also felt very hopeful when I read stories of recovery.
I kept going back to those stories when I thought I couldn’t take it any more.
2. It is also very important to VERBALIZE and VISIBILIZE vaginismus.
It should definitely be included in sex ed programmes!
How unfair is it that boys are taught about erectile disfunction and girls are not taught about vaginismus?
Talking and learning about it would make it SO much easier and we wouldn’t have to learn about our bodies online ten years later and feel like weirdos.
3. You are LOVEABLE, you are ENOUGH, you are RESILIENT!
Your sex life does NOT define your value as a person and there are plenty of fun ways to experience sexual pleasure outside penetration!
Vaginismus really taught me to get creative in bed, which is now a plus in my sex life.
Don’t ever think you “owe” a partner sex or gratitude just because he is not forcing you to have penetrative sex. It is his choice to be with you and to love you just the way you are.
Love and respect every bit of your absolutely amazing self!
4. There is HOPE.
Staying positive is an immensely important part of the vaginismus journey, as I’m sure you already know. I know it’s more easily said than done, but try to focus on the process, not the result.
Celebrate every tiny achievement and praise yourself on the days you make it through when you thought you couldn’t.
You CAN get through this and you will, sooner or later!
5. You are becoming, STRONGER, wiser, and more resilient every day.
I try to apply my vaginismus “lessons” as life lessons:
Love yourself, don’t beat yourself up, don’t overthink, have patience, be constant in your efforts, be optimistic, have faith in the future…
And trust you can achieve anything you set yourself out to do.
6. Don’t be afraid to SEEK HELP!
There are wonderful professionals out there who have been trained to deal with cases such as yours. It can be fixed!
Finally, I would like to apologize if my English is not perfect, it’s not my native language.
I know, perhaps, my experience does not exactly conform to what you strictly call vaginismus (because of the imperforate hymen cause) and I know that a lot of girls out there have it so much worse than me.
I only hope this will be of use to some girl, any girl, even just one girl, who has been in a similar situation.
Sending you all of my love, support, and best of luck!
– Anonymous (26 years old, Seville, Spain)