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.
Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for another Blogtober post!