“Lay back and think of England…”

Great but I wasn’t expecting all of England to be trying to force it’s way into my vagina.  

Definition: Vaginismus is vaginal tightness causing discomfort, burning, pain, penetration problems, or complete inability to have intercourse.  This is the result of an involuntary vaginal muscle spasm, which makes any kind of vaginal penetration painful or impossible.

Needless to say, no one really talks about it.  I’m betting unless you found this post intentionally looking for information about Vaginismus or you’ve known me a while or follow me on twitter, you probably hadn’t come across it before.  And it’s something that has taken me years to even start to talk about.

When I was a teenager I struggled to use tampons but I didn’t talk about it.  Why would I?  Presumably I was trying to put them in wrong or something…  Or, in darker moments… presumably there was something wrong with me ‘down there’.

The next time it became an issue was when I tried to have sex.  Everyone knows the first time can hurt but I was in a loving relationship with a very patient guy.  We took our time and built up to it.  But try as we might, penetration was not happening.  I eventually sucked up my courage and pride (I mean who fails at sex?!) and went to a doctor.

The doctor told me to use lube (duh) and relax (duh) and to try with sex toys instead, starting small.  Given that one of the causes of Vaginismus can be psychological, I really think she should have done a bit more than that… She did say if I really wanted we could go for sex therapy but it wasn’t something she really seemed to be offering and it wasn’t feasible at the time.

So, off we went to Ann Summers.  There are some bloody scary things in there if you have Vaginismus!  We found the absolute smallest vibrator and went home with good intentions.  Despite a lot of attempts, solo and with my partner, I didn’t really make any progress.

The best I got at penetration was using tiny tampons which required me to do acrobatics to get them in whilst remaining relaxed enough.  Needless to say, increased pain etc means I’m now strictly a sanitary pad girl.  However, I am at a point where about half the time, my hands aren’t good enough to deal with sanitary pads so my carers are having to change them for me.  Which is grim and humiliating and strips me of my last dregs of dignity.

Enter contraceptive.

Side note: when talking to my doctors about this, they assumed that I needed it purely to stop my periods, I was offered no advice on safe sex… I can only assume this is because I’m disabled… sigh…

I’d tried a couple of makes of the pill but they just gave me really really long periods which was no fun.  And the doctor said that the coil would be the best thing for me to stop my periods.  So I explained about the difficulties I had with penetration and she brushed them off.  Presumably thinking I was a bit neurotic.  She asked if I’d had some paracetamol to help with the pain.  I laughed.  I take morphine and tramadol daily and I have a high tolerance for pain.  And she got started.  And it was like having a bulldozer trying to push it’s way into my body.  Its hard to explain.  For me, it’s not really about pain but rather the severe discomfort (I can’t think of a better word) of it.  My muscles clamp down and will not give way and it’s not something I’m consciously in control of.  We tried to get the coil in but it didn’t happen.  Apparently you could see my muscles contracting through my stomach…  Back to yet another type of pill then…

So, yes, penetration, not for me.

And all of this does make me a bit hesitant about any future relationships.  At what point in a relationship to you say, hey, erm, you know sex, well penetration… well that doesn’t work.  I know there are many other ways to get satisfaction but the world at large does seem obsessed with penetrative sex…

So, that’s my vagina.  Say hi!  And don’t be offended if it doesn’t say hi back, it’s not very friendly…

A bit of factual info:

  • Although I’m not a success story, there are ways of working through Vaginismus although I’d recommend choosing your doctor carefully.
  • It can be caused by physical reasons as well as psychological ones or a mix of both although there seems to be a lot of websites which only talk about psychological causes.
  • You can develop Vaginismus even if you’ve had a healthy and successful sex life up until that point.
  • You can have Vaginismus and still be able to use tampons, like most things in life, there’s a scale of severity.
  • Possibly 1 in 500 women experience Vaginismus although it’s probably under reported and I expect under diagnosed so I would think it’s more common than that..

Useful websites:


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