Confusion between tight hymen and vaginismus… a warning!

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    This is my personal story and also a warning to those who are diagnosed with vaginismus.

    I’m from the UK and I met my first boyfriend while studying the university, I think I was 20 at that time. When we tried to have sex, he couldn’t enter me, although I was more than wet enough. It seemed like he hit a “wall” at the entrance, and when he tried to push in further it hurt like hell. Since we both had 0 experience with sex we tried a couple of times more, but we gave up after a while cause we really had no clue what was going on.

    We had an on-campus doc at that time so I made an appointment and asked her about the pain I had. She said I needed to use lube and that “half of all girls” she sees have pain during sex”, which didn’t really help. We tried with extra lube – nope, didn’t work. I remember I had a hard time using tampons as well when I tried them a few years ago, and when I returned to the doc and told her that, her conclusion was I had vaginismus and needed to consult a physiotherapist.

    So that’s what I did. My physiotherapist – according to what I’ve heard one of the best in town – did an internal exam and told me afterwards that vagininismus was probably not the right diagnosis. She suspected a tight hymen and told me we could either try to use dilators to make the hymen tear, or I could make an appointment with a gyn and he or she could fix the problem as well. We agreed to try it first with a dilator set.

    I must say the physiotherapist did her best to make me feel at ease, even though the sessions were far from comfortable. And during the third or fourth session I literally felt my hymen tearing (a sharp, stinging pain). The day after I called my boyfriend and guess what… we had sex for the first time! No vaginismus at all! I was so happy I bought flowers for my therapist.

    I’m writing my story down here cause I recently heard from a friend she got the same wrong diagnosis when she was young, so apparently it’s something that happens frequently.

    I’m a biology teacher now, and during sex ed I make sure I don’t forget to talk about the hymen. It seems like it’s importance has been underestimated during the last 10 years or so, since it’s only touched briefly the books I use, so I always remind my students it can play an important role in their sex life.


    Thank you so much for sharing your story, @isabelw! I’m sorry you had to struggle with intercourse early on and that you weren’t accurately diagnosed. Ultimately, I’m grateful you continued to advocate for yourself, that you were able to get appropriate support and that you are now successfully able to be sexually active according to what you want!

    Your experience is – unfortunately – so illustrative of the serious inadequacies we continue to experience in women’s health. Why is medical training so incredibly far behind in this area? We hear stories like yours at Maze day in and day out – it never ceases to amaze me how common your experience is (wrong diagnosis, providers not understanding the anatomy and women’s sexuality in general, etc.) The only way we’re going to change the system is to keep talking and sharing and supporting one another, and demanding a higher standard of comprehensive, respective care.

    Thanks again for writing to us and take care!


    Just like Jennifer said, thanks for sharing your story, isabelw. We see people here on the forums with all kinds of issues and the more we all get exposed to, the better our understanding rises. I hope the medical industry will match pace with what we have to learn and diagnose on our own – it would save so many women years of pain if they had better-trained clinicians and specialists!


    Good for you!!!!! I’m so happy for you!!! What a relief I bet that was! I absolutely love your message and also what the ladies above said! Vaginismus needs a lot more understanding and research! It’s baffling how little it is spoken of. Thank you for sharing your story, I’m sure it’s going to help others!

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