Accepting the pain

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    I found this in a French woman’s magazine a few days ago, and I thought it would make interesting reading for some of you. It’s an interview with a doctor. I’ve only translated the part in which vaginismus is mentioned. Her statement is that lots of young girls are having sex DESPITE the pain. What do you guys think? Might she be right?

    Pain during sex is normal. Well, of course it isn’t, but a large amount of women experience pain and it’s so common we actually label it as “normal”. Not because sex is supposed to hurt, but because so many women are having issues with pain.

    I work part time in a small doctors office at a university campus. When students come and see me to get a prescription for their pill for instance, I always make sure I ask them how things are going between them and their boyfriend. You’d be amazed at how many girls end up telling me they’re in pain during sex. It’s a huge and underestimated problem that cannot be solved by giving the standard answer that “they need to use lubrication”, which is advice I got myself as a teenager.

    Pain can be caused by so many reasons and as a doctor, it’s not always easy to figure out exactly what is going wrong and why. Sure, lack of foreplay and not enough vaginal lubrication are common, but so is a stubborn hymen, vaginismus, a partner with a large penis, a tight vagina, fear or a combination of all of these things. Some of those are complex problems which means there is no magic potion to get rid of the pain immediately.

    This can be bad news, especially for young girls who are convinced that sex is an integral part of a healthy relationship – they can’t imagine being together with their boyfriend without being able to have sex. It’s not always clear where this pressure comes from: my patients, their friends, their partners, or the general idea that everyone around them is doing it. What I do know is that this means most of my patients continue to be intimate, despite the pain. Even in 2021, sex still seems to be aimed exclusively towards the pleasure of men.


    This is a great excerpt from that article. I agree with this doctor, that pain with intercourse is more prevalent than people like to talk about. And providers are often not even asking the question, so it is not surprising so many women suffer in silence. And we know that painful pentation is a viscous cycle that affects the mind and body connection, and the more the problem is ignored, the worse it becomes.


    Thanks so much for sharing this, juliefrance! Until you posted this article excerpt, I hadn’t thought about the fact that we often use the word “normal” to mean two very different things – “a thing that happens to lots of people” and “a thing that is natural and supposed to happen.” Vaginismus is very much the former and NOT the latter, but I think because women hear so much about pain during sex being “normal” (as in a thing that happens to lots of women), they assume it is also NATURAL and a necessary part of the experience. Part of what our educatuon around vaginismus needs to do is untangle the fact that this happens all too often from the assumption that it’s just how things are and that there’s nothing we can do about it.


    I have had way too many conversations with my female friends who tell me it hurts. I remember growing up with it, so scared of no one loving me because a lot of us vagina owners have heard a lot of talk from men about their sexual desires and prefences and basically only care about penetration and if that isn’t something you can offer, they won’t spend any time on you. It’s scary to speak up about to your Mom, if you catch it young, and tell her your vagina hurts during sex or tampons or penetrative masturbation. Because then the question comes up of, How did you figure this out? What caused the pain? And if you can’t tell your Mom or parent about it, because maybe sex is forbidden in your household.. You’re forced to wait til you can be of age to go to the doctor alone. And if you’re in a relationship, and you want to speak up… then there’s the fear of your partner leaving or becoming angry with you or even cheating in the relationship. And if you get yourself to the doctor, far too often we’re told to drink wine and use lube. I actually had a doctor tell me that I need to get this fixed before my husband cheats on me. Never went back to her again. There’s so many contributing factors as to why women stay silent about it. I think the biggest problem regarding vaginismus is the fact that it’s just proof that women don’t get the knowledge, or the resources they need to really know and learn about their bodies. Vaginismus is so treatable but a lot of doctors believe it’s JUST in the head when it’s a head AND body issue. It’s so sad that women are in pain during something that’s supposed to be enjoyable. It’s even more sad that vaginismus isn’t known or spoken of or taught in sex ed classes. The female body is so complex and so much goes on underneath our skin. Young girls should definitely have classes just for them in school. Maybe one day vaginismus wont be so kept in the dark.

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