Let’s Talk About Vaginismus

Let’s Talk About Vaginismus

Does this title ring a bell? Earlier this year I wrote a post titled ‘Let’s Talk About Vaginal Discharge and it just blew up. People were sharing on Twitter and writing detailed comments on the post for weeks. I even saw it on Facebook groups I was a part of, which genuinely excited me. The post went viral and my stats climbed for months after.

Since I have gone on to write about: period sex, how to actually take care of your vagina, as well as sex positivity in the bedroom. I have also started to cover these topics on my YouTube channel as well. I enjoy writing content like this because it feels revolutionary and I like helping people. It’s a bittersweet feeling when people reach out for guidance but I am always happy to help of course. I try live my life by aiming to be the woman I needed as a girl. Your vagina superhero if you will.

Whilst my content tends to focus more on encouraging women to get theirs, I want to try write more ‘serious’ educational pieces too. Just this week, I wrote a post on how I think sex education could be improved. Today I want to talk about something that isn’t spoken about very often and that is Vaginismus.

Vaginismus is a condition that affects one’s ability to engage in penetration. It’s a result of an involuntary vaginal muscle spasm and it makes any kind of vaginal penetration painful or impossible.

What causes vaginismus?

As far as I’m aware, I don’t think the condition is fully understood or even recognised. If you think about how much we know, or even respect the fact that that erectile dysfunction happens, it’s alarming that more people don’t know about this condition. Erectile dysfunction is not only recognised, it’s also somewhat represented. How many times have you watched a film or television show and heard a woman reassure a man that ‘it happens to everyone’?

The truth is vaginismus is way more common than you think. Many factors can play a part but I personally think the main cause is sexual anxiety or anxiety in general. I am obviously not a doctor but this is just going by my own experience and understanding of the condition.

Possible factors can include:

  • Negative feelings about your vagina (i.e. thinking it’s too small)
  • Sexual anxiety (i.e. thinking it will be painful and cause damage)
  • Previous sexual abuse
  • Damage to the vagina (this could happen during childbirth for example)
  • Painful conditions that affect the vagina and/or surrounding areas
  • Relationship problems

If you take a look at these factors, your mindset can definitely play a part.

My thoughts on vaginismus

As nobody really talks about vaginismus, I didn’t know I had it. I think it’s similar to erectile dysfunction as in you can overcome it. I just think it’s harder to cure it as you don’t have a tablet to help. Viagra reverses erectile dysfunction by enhancing the effects of nitric oxide. This is a chemical in your body that relaxed the muscles in the penis. I don’t think female viagra would do the same because I think it’s different for women. (I’m not completely ruling this out, but do consult a doctor if you want to try this.)

I think frame of mind plays a huge factor in overcoming vaginismus. This may sound sexist but I do think it’s easier for men to get in the mood. I’m not suggesting women don’t enjoy sex because that’s bollocks. I’m just saying if I’m not fully into it and wet then I probably won’t be able to have sex. I think where men are told it happens to everyone, women feel things like this a lot harder.

My experience with vaginismus

I experienced vaginismus when I was going through a really horrible period of my life. I was unemployed for two years and I had depression. Sex was something I had great difficulty doing during this time. It was very painful; sometimes my boyfriend was able to enter, sometimes he didn’t make it past the tip. Most of the time entering my vagina was out of the question completely. Once this happens, you’ll worry the next time you try it. You’ll panic the next time and the time after that. It’s incredibly hard to get out of this mindset and try enjoy sex.

Foreplay was enjoyable; we focused on other areas and I would get wet. But whenever it came down to the penetration, I’d panic. Once my mind shuts down, so does my vagina. We’re in sync and she’d tighten up. We didn’t live together at this point and lived quite a distance away. So not only was this painful, it also made me feel incredibly guilty. My boyfriend did nothing to make me feel this way but it doesn’t matter. Vaginismus affects you mentally too. I felt broken and alone; I had no understanding of what was going on with my body and that terrified me.

How is vaginismus treated?

If there is an obvious physical cause, you will be given the appropriate medication. If the cause is psychological, sex therapy and counselling is recommended. I believe there are treatments and relaxation techniques that can be implemented too. I have heard of ‘vaginal trainers’ but have not looked into them. Again, please consult your doctor if this is something you’re interested in.

Advice for trying to mentally overcome vaginismus

I think it’s important to remind yourself that you are not any less of a person if you experience this. There is this frustrating expectation that in order to be sexually satisfied, you have to do it 24/7. This expectation is not only unattainable, it also creates a lot of unnecessary pressure. Having sex is a normal thing but so is not having sex. It’s all about listening to your body and doing what’s best for it. You shouldn’t force yourself to have sex because you won’t enjoy it and you could also really hurt yourself.

My advice would be to try figure out what’s stopping you from feeling turned on. In my case, I was incredibly down about the way my life was going. Once I figured out what was wrong, I was able to relax a bit more. My vagina wasn’t broken, sex was just wasn’t my body’s main priority and that’s okay!

Advice for trying to physically overcome vaginismus

When you feel ready to try have sex again, just take it as it comes. I wouldn’t plan a date or time to do it, I’d just do it when you feel like it. It’s important to be patient and not feel disheartened. You wouldn’t rush the healing process after a broken bone, so why rush this?

Focus on non-penetrative foreplay first, you can even do this a couple of times before penetration itself. Try not to feel a rush to do anything, only stick to things you’re comfortable with. You don’t owe anyone anything. We focused on foreplay and worked our way up to penetration. Even when we started having penetrative sex again, I think we only did it in little bursts. We also took it slowly, we didn’t have hard/rough sex for a long time.

 

I hope this post has been educational and helpful for some. If you would like more information on vaginismus, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor.

 

 

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24 Comments

  1. October 23, 2016 / 3:35 pm

    Thanks for writing this post! It really helped me to realise for the first time it wasn’t just me! I have friends who talk sex all the time and I was like, am I abnormal? Now I know I’m absolutely fine!

    Xxx

  2. October 23, 2016 / 4:41 pm

    This was actually really interesting to read plus you are very brave for putting it out there! Thank you

    www.georginadoes.co.uk

  3. October 23, 2016 / 8:26 pm

    I’ve never heard of Vaginismus before, well done for bringing it to peoples attention.

  4. October 23, 2016 / 9:46 pm

    I love your writing style! Fantastic that you’re sharing and talking about things related to women and our vaginas. I hope my daughter’s generation is much more open and informed than ours was growing up!

  5. October 23, 2016 / 10:01 pm

    You are right, I don’t think vaginismus is ever mentioned. Whilst I know what it is, I have never ever seen any one else, outside my group of friends mention it x

  6. October 23, 2016 / 11:25 pm

    This post was really eye opening, I’ve heard of Vaginismus before but never knew much about it. It’s so inspiring that you’ve opened up about it, there’s so much sigma around not just sex but sex from a females point of view; from orgasms to this. We need to be much more open with it all, but of course, it’s not easy.

  7. October 24, 2016 / 1:23 am

    Well written post! Well done in talking about it 🙂 luckily it’s not something I’ve experienced, but have heard about it and hope it only improves for women. I didn’t think there was much treatment for it

  8. October 24, 2016 / 10:48 am

    This is why I love your blog. I suffered from Vaginismus for years, in fact me and my ex never once had sex (in 7 years) because of what my Dr called sexual psychosis which I think is unfair. Personally I think people need to know all the facts instead of just being told they are crazy and just do keep trying. Vaginal trainers btw not great fun (my first one was basically just a plastic speculum…felt like I was giving myself a DIY smear!

  9. October 24, 2016 / 11:21 am

    I’d never really hard of the phrasing but I do think that not enough people know that feeling like this is normal and it can just be down to stress and not relaxing. Great post x

  10. October 24, 2016 / 12:00 pm

    Not heard of this before but I must say I think its brilliant you blog about so many things people don’t always blog about, its important for people to know more info on things like this.
    Great post

  11. October 24, 2016 / 3:04 pm

    I’m sorry to say I’d never heard of Vaginismus before (I thought it was a play on words of vagina and Christmas…) so thank you with all my heart for writing and sharing this post – it was obviously needed by some of us! It really bums me out that women’s reproductive and sexual health is no where near as researched as men’s is. Which is partially due to the lack of women in scientific research, men would rarely consider it because they wouldn’t experience it. I think encouraging more women into science and making STEM careers more accepting of women is so important. Part of the reason women don’t go for these careers or drop out of them is because of the way they are treated and attitudes towards them in the workplace. I hope more research goes into this, as you say, erectile dysfunction is a common household word!

  12. October 24, 2016 / 6:49 pm

    Really interesting post. I recently had a friend confide in me with this issue – there needs to be more awareness for us girls.

  13. nicol
    October 25, 2016 / 1:14 am

    ive never heard of this before and its nice to learn something new. very informal and hope it gets recognised more. it’s important

  14. cheskaaanels
    October 25, 2016 / 11:16 am

    Great post on making something important heard!! I too suffered for a period of time where I couldn’t enjoy sex at all and like you it was because of a tough period of time I was having. Its so important topics like these are spoken about so we are better understood!

  15. October 25, 2016 / 5:55 pm

    I love reading your blog because you talk about some difficult issues, and things people need to know about! Keep going xx

  16. October 25, 2016 / 7:26 pm

    I never knew this was a thing – so glad you talk about this stuff!

  17. October 25, 2016 / 11:30 pm

    This post was really interesting, love that you’re going outside of the norm and producing unique content! x

  18. October 26, 2016 / 2:54 am

    This is such an interesting and important post, its great to get some understanding on these kind of feminine issues!
    L x
    thequietresolution.co.uk

  19. November 9, 2016 / 9:20 pm

    I’ve struggled with this problem for about a year and a half due to a bad experience from a smear test. Sometimes its ok, sometimes it’s really bad, but it’s so so hard to overcome. It’s a slow process but I think it’s getting better! I’ve tried talking to my doctor about it and they don’t really understand and send me off for more test (the same as smear and it’s like the same route cause all over again).

    Thank you so much for talking about it, I’ve felt alone for a long time because of it.

  20. November 23, 2016 / 2:44 pm

    THANK YOU for this! I am fortunate enough to have (somewhat) overcome my struggle with vaginismus with the help of my lovely supportive partner, but it was a big problem for me when I was younger and really affected my social life and relationships for quite a few years.

    The hardest thing was having no name for what was wrong with me and not being able to speak to my friends because they just could not understand it. So it’s wonderful to see this post and this issue being talked about…it was actually reading a blog post about someone’s experiences that helped me put a label on my issue, which really helped in understanding what was going on. The more people talk about it, the easier it will be for people to understand their bodies and how to help them. I’m sure you’ll find that this post will help a lot of people!

    Hannah Simpson Writes

  21. November 23, 2016 / 2:47 pm

    This is a really important thing to talk about! I had it around a year ago with only a few places on google to read about it and had no idea it was common. Then catching up with old friends I found out we had all had it at some point!

    It’s such a horrible thing because once it happens the worrying it will happen again it what causes it to happen again. A vicious circle! And you end up just thinking you’ve broken your vagina or something and now you’ll never enjoy sex again. It took me a good while to get past and was a real tough time for my relationship. I’m super happy this article is talking about it because girls need to know these things about their bodies!

  22. Mosherchick
    January 15, 2017 / 11:07 am

    This post really spoke to me. I’ve been here recently and am just through the other side, but reading this, I could have wrote it for myself!

    • Tara | C&CO.
      January 15, 2017 / 12:33 pm

      I’m sorry to hear you’re going through it too

  23. April 3, 2017 / 12:12 am

    Great post once again Tara – I am currently struggling with a mild case. It was caused by a nurse who performed a colposcopy on me in January – I’ve had speculums inserted many times for smears and birth control but this time the woman literally wrenched me open (and obviously I was more nervous than usual) – it was so unbelievably painful that I yelped out (during a colposcopy they raise you up on the bed so you’re just a few feet under the ceiling, it was utterly terrifying to be trapped like that and in such a horrible type of pain that I actually think it may have traumatised me a bit.) the nurse carried on and completely ignored me while my whole pelvic area was aching in pain. My partner and I were unable to have sex for a long time after that without causing me horrible pain, most of the time from the start but sometimes only halfway through, a double mind fuck for me. It really changed my attitude to sex, especially considering the health issues that caused me to have the colposcopy in the first place! I stopped thinking about it positively or with excitement. Luckily I have the most incredibly supportive partner who is always happy to go as far as I feel comfortable with, otherwise I don’t think I could have coped.

    xx

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