“Vaginismus is the involuntary contraction of muscles around the opening of the vagina in women with no abnormalities in the genital organs.”
– Rosemary Basson
Well…I guess that’s me. Hi there! I’m Lannee, a vulva owner with no abnormalities in her genital organs. (cue Jenna Marbles singing voice) I’m a 22-year-old lady, and I’m experiencing vaginismus. And what can I tell you, it fucking sucks!
Now, in my opinion, “involuntary contraction of muscles” doesn’t really express at all how bad of an experience vaginismus is. I tend to write about vaginismus with a lot of anger and hate, but I will try and explain to you in the most neutral way possible to me what vaginismus feels like for me.
To put it simple: it is EXCRUCIATINGLY painful. It is a pain where you just can’t remain quiet.
One that puts your body into shock. And it’s not just a moment of pain, it won’t go away after a while. It sticks around. Sometimes even after penetration.
Penetration doesn’t necessarily mean PIV (penis in vagina). It can be a tampon or a finger, a toy, Gynaecology instruments, as well as, last but not least, a penis.
Now, before I dive into my still ongoing experience with vaginismus I’d like to say this:
If YOU are reading this because you suffer or think you might suffer from vaginismus – I’m so sorry you are going through this! I know exactly how you feel and even though it feels devastating and frustrating, you are not alone.
I also know that these words suck, and they don’t necessarily make you feel better.
I know because I’ve been there.
But the good thing about it is that there are so many vulva owners out there who experience vaginismus, and a lot of them have overcome and healed from it. That means, there’s knowledge out there that can help you as well to heal your body and your mind. Because it is possible. And it’s a wonderful part of sisterhood – to stand together, share our wisdom, and help one another heal.
If YOU are reading this because someone you know might experience vaginismus, or maybe you haven’t ever heard of this before and are not going through this yourself, I recommend you to continue reading anyway.
Little to no people (including medical professionals) know about this “condition”. And I think it’s time to spread the word because so many people suffer from this yet don’t come forward with it out of shame and fear and unknowingness.
So thank you from the bottom of my heart if you decide to keep reading.
But please keep in mind that this is my personal experience with vaginismus. Other vulva owners will have completely different stories because there are many different causes for vaginismus, and I will get into that in another post.
But for now, let’s get into my story.
When I was younger, I was never the type of person who’d be interested in having a relationship.
I just wasn’t ever looking for anything, and also never felt any interest. However, I did talk to my friends about sex, naturally, it was a hot topic as a teenager. Most of my friends were, just like me, completely inexperienced and never had a boyfriend so far either. But we all kinda knew the basics of how PIV sex worked. One topic that always came up was having sex for the first time.
All my friends were worried about performance and looks and the perfect scenarios, but no one except for me ever worried about the pain. I was FRIGHTENED! I always thought, for no reason at all, that something is wrong with me.
I didn’t know why, and I didn’t know what, but I always thought something inside me was wrong and that’s why sex wouldn’t be possible and will be extremely painful.
I now know that I was (and I guess I still am) a bit of a hypochondriac and my fear was pretty much unreasonable. But still, the fact that none of my friends worried at all about potential pain during their first time made me feel even worse about myself, and shameful as well.
Whenever I would open up about my fear they would look at me in a way that felt like they were making fun of me. But at that point, that fear didn’t really affect me too much yet, because I just wasn’t very sexual, not even with myself. I did masturbate but never ever did it occur to me to put anything inside me.
I got a little older and I decided to try out putting something inside me.
I bought a very cheap and waaay too big dildo off of Amazon and tried to penetrate myself. But it didn’t work. It was too painful and it felt wrong. I eventually found a girl, who was much older than me and had a lot of sexual experience, with whom I felt comfortable talking about sex.
But again, I told her about my fear of pain and her response was “Well, just stick a dildo up there, and then it’s over.”
As you can probably guess, that wasn’t helpful at all, it made me feel bad about myself because I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t take it. But I didn’t give it too much thought. Yes, the fear of a potential first time still send shivers down my spine and gave me a bunch of anxiety, but I knew it wasn’t going to happen any time soon.
Until I met my boyfriend at age 21…
That’s when I first truly realized that something really wasn’t quite right with me at all – last year, around May/June. Just a few days after my 22 birthday, I had my very first time ever. At least the first time, his penis was able to be fully inside me. I have never had a boyfriend before, and at that time we’d been together for about 5 months or so.
I was longing to have sex with him, I wanted it so bad.
We tried a couple of times, but it was always so painful. He was supportive and immediately knew when it was too much for me to handle. He never pushed me to do anything. But I desperately wanted to share that experience with him, and I wanted it now.
And after a couple of painful fails, I decided that next time I would just push through it. I always knew that your first time (or even sex in general if not “done right”) can be uncomfortable or a bit painful. BUT I also knew that it shouldn’t be excruciatingly painful. So the first attempts scared me a lot, keeping that fact in mind.
But I just figured it’s just gonna be painful that one time and then everything will be good.
Oh boy was I wrong…
The first time it actually “worked” was so unbearable. It felt like I had a wall inside me, and he just couldn’t go through that. I was moaning so loud, out of pure pain, almost screaming.
And then suddenly my body started shaking uncontrollably, and the entire right side of my body went numb and started tingling (and not the good kind, I tell ya).
It freaked me out so much that I stopped my partner, who was very sweet and immediately brought me water and calmed me down. I was bleeding a bit, and that was the sign for me. I had “successfully” lost my virginity, and from now on it would only get better. Yes, the next one or two times might still hurt a little, but it’s not gonna be this bad ever again. I was so relieved and excited.
But those feelings went just as fast as they came.
It never got better. Not once was I able to enjoy sex. Not once was there a moment when I didn’t feel excruciating pain.
And I tried so many positions.
I bought every kind of lube and oil and at one point even a fatty based cream for women who have vulva pain, given to me by my gynecologist (I always felt an extreme burning sensation whenever my partner would use lube, so I thought maybe I’m just allergic to lube, and that’s why she gave me the cream) because I thought maybe I’m just not aroused enough and that’s why it hurts.
Nothing worked. Everything made the pain worse.
In September, I finally decided to do some research. Apart from my partner, I didn’t talk to anyone about the pain I was experiencing. I didn’t have any people in my life I trusted enough or would call friends. I didn’t know where to look or what to search for, but then I remembered a video from Buzzfeed I saw a few years ago, about a woman not being able to have sex due to a painful condition.
So I just tried everything to find that video again. I don’t think I ever found it, but I did come across a term called vaginismus. And that’s when the real nightmare began.
I looked up more about it and what the symptoms of vaginismus are, and oh my god, it was like reading a diagnosis of myself. I was sure I had it. It just all made too much sense to not be true. And it made me go into a full-blown panic attack. I immediately called my gynecologist, a nurse answered, and I explained my situation…and she said
“Oh well, everything is okay with you. You just had your check-up and nothing is wrong. If it keeps happening over the next few months, you can call again.”
Well…I spent a full week sitting isolated in a dark room and crying my eyes out. And I mean a full week. I felt so hopeless and helpless and angry. I just didn’t understand why me.
What did I do to deserve this on top of everything else I already have going on in my life? On top of the depression I was facing, and the eating disorders, and all the other shit. How could this happen? And the worst and scariest question, is this even curable or will I have this for the rest of my life?
And if it actually should be treatable, how long will it take? How long do I have to suffer from this? And how do I get help? Who can help me treat this condition? Those questions really took a toll on me. I did not want to live like that. It made me even more depressed than I already was, and put me into a really dark place.
That same week, I did a ton of research on it and read about dilator training. So I purchased a book on vaginismus (which I’m not gonna name because I do NOT recommend it) and a set of dilators off of Amazon. And ever since then I have not once touched any of those things again.
I took one look into the booklet and just threw it in a corner. It gave me so much anxiety and concern that it will never get better, and all the instructions just sounded so overwhelming and useless.
I felt so alone and angry.
But I started following Instagram accounts about vaginismus. I felt a little bit better because I realized how many vulva owners are struggling with this, and it blew my mind that it wasn’t ever talked about in our society and that I, therefore, have never heard of vaginismus and other vulva issues before. But the sadness and frustration still stuck with me. And I couldn’t stop obsessing over it. It made me so extremely depressed and angry.
At one point I saw a TikTok video of a sex therapist who suggested that…
“if you have pain during penetration, how about you just focus on the other pleasure options that don’t have anything to do with penetration, like cuddling or oral sex, stuff like that?”
It made me so upset and overwhelmed! Of course, I do appreciate those forms of pleasure, but I still want penetrative sex with my partner. I want to share that special connection with him and have both our bodies glued together. At first, I wanted it mainly because I felt like I couldn’t give my partner what he deserved, but to be completely honest, I now want it for me.
I want to heal this for myself. And yes, I do want to feel pleasure while being penetrated. I just want to feel it, and I want to enjoy it and just let it all happen and take in every second of it. I can’t right now because all I feel is pain. So yeah, it angered me a lot. Even though she didn’t mean to upset anyone and was just trying to help.
In the beginning, I specifically felt like a failure as a woman and a partner. Sex, that one super basic thing, that is simple human nature. And I wasn’t able to do it… I just felt ashamed.
But, I found hope, and help. And I am now on my journey to healing.
It still overwhelms and angers me sometimes, and there are days when I’m drowned by anxiety and sadness. But I am on the right track, and I’m learning so much, not just about vaginismus, but more so about myself.
I am now healing physically and mentally. It’s a learning process, but I am very hopeful that I will heal. I am ready to heal. And I’m doing it for myself and no one else.
And so can you! Because you deserve it, and you are so worth it – no matter what you tell yourself or what anyone else might tell you. YOU CAN DO THIS! ❤️
– Lannee (23 years old, Berlin)