Like a blimp on my radar, my three year relationship was over and just like that, I was single again.
A bit of heartbreak for most people, my new found freedom was met with the terrifying realization that dating was hard and it’s a lot harder for someone with vaginismus.
When I first began openly discussing my sexual dysfunction with the public, I received a flood of emails from mostly single, middle aged women who couldn’t maintain a steady relationship because of their inability to have PIV (penis in vagina) intercourse. My situation was vastly different from theirs. I had a steady long-term relationship. I lived with someone who was understanding and patient with my condition, and I could never offer any advice for when someone desperately asked, “How do you tell someone you have vaginismus?”
I felt privileged, and I most definitely was.
Vaginismus is a an involuntary muscle spasm that occurs after a psychological trauma, endometriosis, childbirth, pelvic inflammatory disease, a painful STI, etc. For me personally, I had painful intercourse after a yeast infection and my body associated sex with pain. The recovery took years.
Now, after the end of a committed relationship, I was on my own, in my readers position and feeling slightly worried about my first moments of when I would be intimate with someone new.
How do you break the news to someone that PIV sex may be an impossible task? How does this conversation even begin in hookup culture? Does the person on the receiving end even understand what this means?
I decided to take this task on full force. I am a sex writer, first and foremost. I write about sexual health and wellness for various platforms. Discussing topics like HPV, fetishes, queefing, STIs and primal desires is my every day job. It’s what I wake up doing. For me, discussing vaginismus is like pouring my morning coffee. It’s a necessity and a routine.
Again, I must repeat that I am quite fortunate. After visiting a specialist, investing in dilators, and practicing yoga, my painful intercourse wasn’t as terrible as it was when I was 18, but sex still hurt. The point is is that I was able to have PIV sex. Most individuals who suffer from vaginismus are unable to have any penetrative sex and inserting tampons can be nearly impossible. While this used to be the case for me, I discovered that mine was more psychological and through the incredible help of doctors and my own personal practice, I was able to successfully have pain-free sex with my ex partner a handful of times.
In my single life journey, I was ready to experiment. However, I’ve never been one to kiss at random. I’m a Virgo, a very picky sign, so my choice in lips is very selective. The first set is still my current set and I have been able to discuss my vaginismus with them pretty early on in our sexual engagement. Even someone like me, incredibly open and engaging, found that I was very nervous in explaining my situation and my years of disappointment and psychological upsets. I realized that dating is hard and dating with vaginismus is even harder.
If you’re someone who is rather shy about your condition or hasn’t been able to reach out and speak to your peers about vaginismus, I suggest you begin there. Talking about it only gives you more confidence and talking with your sexual partner should be on the top of your priority.
If you’re suffering from vaginismus, or any form of sexual dysfunction, the following steps should enter your conversation with your partner, your friends, or your parents. Your words should never be silenced and you should not feel ashamed.
When do you find the time, and the courage, to bring it up?
When is the right time to tell your new, prospective sexual partner about your vaginismus? If it’s the first date and you feel comfortable, by all means, go for it! But this discussion can wait if you feel that it’s necessary to do so. Not everyone is okay with discussing sex on the first hang out, or the first date. This is ultimately up to you.
I waited until after having successful PIV sex with my partner but we had been experimenting with oral sex for few weeks beforehand. My body knew that it was ready to embrace this person. I knew him and he knew me. I was so blown away by my lack of pain, that I couldn’t wait to tell them what I had been experiencing for 8+ years.
If you’re uncomfortable talking about what vaginismus is, point your partner to a website detailing the facts. Most people are not even aware of what vaginismus is, and the sound of it sounds like an STI or a serious disease. Totally not the case! Let your partner investigate on their own so they are knowledgable in what your future together will look like.
Take your time, don’t force it
Heteronormative expectations can create such a weight on someone’s mind and body, that this in itself can turn someone off from having sex. I know that I found the more that I felt sorry for my partner, the more I didn’t want to even try to have intercourse. The cycle was endless.
This is incredibly important for people who suffer from vaginismus, since forcing sex can cause tearing and result in a more complicated road to recovery. Vaginismus gave me the unsuspecting blessing of weeding out impatient partners. I made sure to only communicate with people who were willing to 1) understand 2) discuss it with me 3) be patient. In a way, it created an easy way to distinguish the bad seeds and gave me the ability to find a real human connection.
Show your partner all the different ways love can feel
Let’s set the record straight. Penetrative sex is not the only way to exemplify bonding, love, and compassion for one another. Vaginismus helped me become more experimental with how to please my partner. I began to look into alternatives and became more exploratory in the bedroom.
It’s not up to you to please your partner in every way imaginable even though society recommends that we, the so-called “bruised” and “dysfunctional” individuals who suffer from vaginismus, should work a little bit harder to provide some form of relief for our partner. This weighted stress can contribute even more to the involuntary muscle spasms. The fear of being defeated causes more anxiety and lengthens the recovery process. Love can be displayed through various alternatives. Experimenting with more kink, discussing emotional desires, practicing sensate focus, or simply perfecting your oral sex skills can all contribute to a strong and healthy sex life. Regardless of what your route may be, sex is not limited to PIV intercourse and your intimacy should not suffer as a result.
Sexual satisfaction comes in many forms and recovery is possible. Remember to remain hopeful, passionate, and surround yourself with encouraging and uplifting peers. The intensity that comes when dating and falling in love with someone can exist in many facets.
In my inbox I have a new message, it reads: “Will I ever fall in love and have a healthy relationship?” I sigh heavily as I write her back, letting her know I’m always here to talk and that hope is just around the corner. But I get it, I understand. Vaginismus is complicated, messy, and by no means easy. Sex doesn’t have to be everything but when you’re single and struggling with vaginismus, it appears to be the entire world and then some. As a writer and someone who has recovered from painful intercourse, I can attest to the impact that positive thinking has and the importance of inviting uplifting individuals into your world.
Research, discuss, take care of yourself, and find recovery.