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It’s definitely important to remember that sex and intercourse don’t mean the same thing, but I also think a lot of women with vaginismus are fed years and years of mainstream portrayals of sex since they’re young so that by the time they reach a sexually active age, they associate being able to have intercourse with the very fact of being a functional woman. Everything from Disney princess stories to romcoms either implicitly or explicitly underscore the responsibilities of women as getting married and having babies (which necessitates having intercourse).

Part of treating vaginismus is deprogramming ourselves of that shame and that limited conception of “sex” which often makes us feel less like valid women. It sucks that so much of how sex is talked about is in these terms, and it’s something I hope our society does better in future generations, but it’s a reality of a lot of the emotional baggage women bring to the treatment process.