Chicken or egg?

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    I’ve got a question for you guys.

    As a teen, I’ve had pretty intense periods, so my mum took my to a gyn at the age of 17. I was not yet sexually active at that moment, and the fact the gyn wanted to do an internal exam scared the hell out of me. I found the whole setting to be intimidating… the gynecological chair, the fact I had to get naked… And as you can already guess, the whole experience turned into a nightmare. It was a female gyn, so I expected her to be gentle, especially since she knew I was still a virgin, but I found her to be very rough. When she opened the speculum I was screaming my lungs out cause it hurt so much, and she replied to me the whole time “I know it hurts but it will be over soon”… Like she was talking to a 5 y/o. My mum told me afterwards she’s in pain too when she goes to her gyn so I’ve always thought it was “supposed” to be like this, especially after hearing similar stories from friends.

    I became sexually active a few months later and I soon found out that sex was painful. Not to the point he couldn’t enter me, but sex did hurt. A lot. I’m sure this was one of the reasons my boyfriend broke up with me.

    So now I’m wondering… Might the painful experience at the gyn have caused vaginismus? Or did I already had vaginismus at that moment, making the exam painful? I’ve once read that an internal exam on teens is almost always an unpleasant experience, so I actually fear that might have triggered vaginismus. Is this a typical chicken/egg story?


    Hi lillyd – I’m so sorry to hear about the pain you’ve experienced, both with your gynecological exam and during sex. Vaginismus sucks (which I know firsthand from having dealt with it for 10 years before eventually getting treatment at the Maze clinic) and I think it’s extremely normal to try to figure out where your vaginismus “came from” when you’re in the midst of diagnosing and dealing with it.

    I remember being obsessed with this question when I first learned what vaginismus was – I think I felt like having some sense of an origin story would “unlock” my situation. There are a lot of misconceptions out there that only people who have experienced trauma of some kind can have vaginismus, but I know know that isn’t true – sometimes it just happens and there isn’t a deeper reason beyond that our muscles are extra sensitive and tight or we’re anxious people and carry that tension in our vaginas.

    There are lots of possible reasons, but the good thing is you don’t have to have a concrete answer to this question to seek treatment. Exploring the feelings you have around vaginismus is often a crucial part of getting past it since we often carry so much shame and anxiety around sex because of the pain, but even without knowing where exactly your vaginismus came from, you have the agency to figure out where it’s going by seeking treatment whenever you feel ready to. There are lots of experts here on the forums and out in the world and lots of options open to you if you choose them. You’ve already come far by figuring out what’s going on and enduring it this far – let us know if there’s other ways we can help you!


    Hi lillyd,

    I, too, am so sorry to hear about all that you’ve endured.

    I agree with recessivegenequeen – your quest to uncover the genesis of your experience with vaginismus is totally understandable! And if you feel it will benefit to continue this exploration, then by all means, keep going (though it may not be something you’re ever able to fully uncover). But if you are ready for solid diagnosis and treatment (because vaginismus is very treatable!), then I encourage you to find the right provider who can guide you through the process.

    If you are interested in learning more about our treatment plans at Maze, please check out the website and call us for a free 10-minute consult. Our distance dilation program is something we offer to those who can’t access our NY-based offices, and that might be of interest.

    In any case – don’t ever stop exploring avenues for healing that meet your needs and preferences!


    I am so sorry to hear about your awful experience! In the future, you can ask her to first use a the smallest speculum she has! And if she can get a good view, that’ll be the speculum you’ll only need to deal with! I’m curious what size she used on you. I’m sorry that it hurt.
    As for sex hurting, it may be because your body is new to it. Or it could be because your exam made you associate penetration with pain, so you may be tensing up.
    I couldn’t say whether or not it is vaginismus. But! It doesn’t hurt to dilate! If you’re just becoming sexually active, it may be good for your vagina to get a little physical therapy 🙂 You can already tolerate penetration which is HUGE, so I’m sure you’d ace dilating! I got the Pure Romance dilating kit and I love it! Each dilator is a super fun color and they’re easy to use. If you chose to dilate, you’ll want to do so for 20 minutes a day, as many days of the week as you can. This will help your vagina better adjust to penetration with a penis, or toy.. whatever you fancy! And also, eliminate pain in the future 🙂 Also…. no exam should hurt you. Unless you’ve got an awful rash on the vaginal walls themselves, a speculum exam should definitely NOT make you scream like that.
    I hope this helps!!

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