Imagine having a lover that you can’t make love to? What if when you tried to insert a tampon, it popped right out? Or not being able to masturbate with a dildo? These few symptoms describe the Vaginismus condition which effects 2 in ever 1000 women.
I had the pleasure of meeting with Ashley (I have changed her name for privacy purposes) this week who suffers from Vaginismus and got to dig a little bit deeper into this condition.
Vaginismus is a condition where there is involuntary tightness of the vagina during attempted intercourse. The tightness is actually caused by involuntary contractions of the pelvic floor muscles surrounding the vagina. The woman does not directly control or ‘will’ the tightness to occur; it is an involuntary pelvic response. She may not even have any awareness that the muscle response is causing the tightness or penetration problem.
Vaginismus Involuntary Tightness – In the diagram on the left, the effects of vaginismus are illustrated with the tightening of the pelvic floor muscles and the resulting tightness of the vagina. On the right, the pelvic floor is relaxed and intercourse is possible without pain.
Examples of Vaginismus – In the vaginismus condition, as the man approaches the woman, her PC muscle group (darkly shaded) involuntarily tightens the vaginal entrance making intercourse painfully impossible or penetration may be successful but may result in burning, discomfort, and pain.
I got to ask Ashley a few questions about this horrible condition.
Vibin’ Vixen: When did you find out you had Vaginismus?
Ashley: I first had an idea when I was 13. I hit puberty very young – when I was only 8 years old I had underarm hair. Shortly after, I got my first period. When I tried to insert a tampon, it would pop right out or wouldn’t insert at all. I thought it was odd, but I was young and just wore pads. I didn’t know there was actually a disorder for many years. Through high school I had boyfriends that I would try to have sex with and it just wouldn’t work. I couldn’t even fit a finger inside me without excruciating pain (if it even managed to get in). I continued to talk to my friends through high school and no one had these issues — so I had a feeling I was a little different. Finally when I was 24 years old, I knew I had it because I tried (again) to have sex and the next day I was completely swollen shut. I was bleeding and in a lot of pain. I googled these symptoms and headed straight to my gynecologist…..and it was confirmed.
VV: How have you been treating it?
A: It’s a little embarrassing! The doctor told me to get the kit which consists of stretching devices and numbing creme – but I didn’t have $60 to spend on it so I created my own version. I had this long plastic decoration at home that looked very similar to a dildo, so I put a condom on it (I didn’t trust where it might have been before) and lubed it up. I tried to stay relaxed and practiced each night getting it in a little further each time until finally it was enjoyable. Every time I used it, it was easier to insert and I got more & more comfortable. After a few weeks I was becoming quite a pro and very proud of myself.
VV: So….have you had sex yet?
A: Actually, this interview is very timely. Just Wednesday after all of my practice, I had full-on sex for the first time in my life. He got the whole way inside me and yes it KILLED to begin with but by the end it was enjoyable. I feel like I just lost my virginity and can’t wait to try it again!
VV: That is so excited!! Congratulations! Please keep us posted on your progress…
After talking further with Ashley, we learned that there are many deeper issues that may have caused Vaginismus. Since she hit puberty much younger than her peers, had a religious family that shunned sex and an eating disorder her self-esteem has been pretty low. She’s looking into therapy and is continuing to practice stretching and sex with her new practice partner.