Getting support (again)

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  • #44208
    SexlessInSeattle
    Participant

    Hello all. I think I’m in a new phase of trying to heal and address my challenges with vaginismus. I am 33 years old and have been with my partner, now husband, for 6 years. At the beginning of our relationship we had a good sexual connection, and sometimes could have sex without pain, but we completely stopped having sex at some point (penetrative or otherwise) and I’ve been in a sexless relationship for several years. I felt really ready to address my sexual issues right before the pandemic but also was considering a separation. My partner is loving but I don’t feel the kind of deep connection I hope for in a relationship. Then the pandemic happened and we focused on coping through some of the madness. I was working in health care so the early months were crazy and couldn’t focus on this part of myself. Now that I have time and space again to care for myself and think about my wants and needs — I find that I’m really longing for sex that I enjoy and feels connecting, that I want to feel more empowered physically and sexually, and that I want to be more open about my struggles with others in my life rather than wallowing in shame.

    I am seeing a therapist for talk therapy and she’s really encouraged me to lean into this struggle and focus on what’s in my control, i.e. using the dilators and developing a new relationship to my body. I’ve been working on this really consistently for a few weeks. The first few days were really emotional and now I’m settling into it. I’m worried that I’ll lose my motivation and be unable to meet my goals and create change in my life. This has been a decade plus journey for me now — I first got help (PT) for vaginismus when I was in my early 20s. I feel regret, shame, hopelessness (and some hope too). One of the hardest parts of this for me is feeling too embarrassed to talk to anyone in my life about this. I’m a pretty open and nonjudgmental person, but so many of my friends are these sexually liberated women who I feel can’t understand my struggles. It feels shameful to reach my age and not have a sense of who I am sexually, what role sexuality plays in my life, how to experience pleasure, how to connect. I feel so much grief around all these topics — I didn’t think my 20s and 30s would play out this way. I want to heal but the road is long and winding and feels uncharted and lonely.

    #44299
    SexlessInSeattle
    Participant

    Some more to add, in case anyone is reading this. I went to see a PT today. I had seen a different one a few weeks ago but didn’t feel good about her treatment plan — she didn’t emphasize the use of dilators at all, and she told me that for someone who has had vaginismus for about a decade she wouldn’t expect it to fully resolve. But I’ve also never fully followed through on a treatment plan from PT so I don’t want to give up yet on the possibility of healing or feeling like my issues are resolved. It’s been helpful to me to read about the importance of dilating here and advocate for my needs with treatment. The new PT seems much more helpful and I’m happy to have some physical support as I move through the dilators again. The physical exam was not painful but I’m still feeling vulnerable about having weekly appointments and having frequent internal exams/manual physical therapy. I’m already working on my largest dilator (my vaginismus doesn’t really regress to any extreme, but it’s still impossible to enjoy penetrative sex), and part of me really wants to move quickly through this and another part of me is worried about next steps after that. I really want to remain committed and do this for myself, whether to expand my sexual connection in my current relationship or whether that connection comes elsewhere in the future.

    #44342
    redrose
    Participant

    Don’t worry about your age, plenty of the women here on the forum are older.

    What I do find strange is that you’re already working with the largest dilator and penetration is still painful.

    #44522
    SexlessInSeattle
    Participant

    I would think that’s pretty typical – the largest dilator is still uncomfortable, and I have to work up to it gradually using the previous 2 dilators. So I don’t think my body is ready to accept penetration without pain.

    #44936
    recessivegenequeen
    Participant

    Hi SexlessInSeattle – I’m so sorry to hear about the hard road you’ve been on for so long. The fact that vaginismus can be so isolating from everyone else around you is a big part of what makes the feelings surrounding it so hard to process. Something it took me a long time to learn was that if your friends love you and are empathetic people, they will want to be a resource for you even if they don’t understand firsthand what you’re going through. Having vaginismus isn’t your fault, but it can still be hard to unwind the shame that feels so personal and distressing.

    Regarding your dilation, is your partner’s penis bigger than your largest dilator? That can be part of why the transition to intercourse isn’t working well. Or maybe it’s something else – motion, position, etc. There are a lot of factors that can make this last step trickier, but knowing what’s going on makes it easier to identify the particular fix that’s needed!

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