Lack of education on vaginismus

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    I think I was 21 or 22 when I heard about vaginismus for the first time. Which is – in my opinion – way too late. I wish I would have known at a younger age what it is and what the symptoms are.

    I always had a perfect relationship with my mum and when things got serious between me and my boyfriend, she was my personal source of most of my information on sexuality. I remember she said two things when it became obvious I was going to have sex for the first time: 1. make sure you’ve got protection and 2. make sure you’re warmed up so it won’t hurt.

    As for me, I’ve never been interested in discovering my body, so to speak. I never masturbated, or inserted things or did anything sexually related. My boyfriend knew this and he actually liked that, so we took our time and explored each others bodies for weeks and weeks without actually having sex. We planned to have sex on a birthday trip: 2 days at the seaside and 1 night at a hotel.

    We arrived at the hotel I thought back to what my mum said and I made sure during each of our walks on the beach there was plenty of kissing and touching and we whispered naughty words etc. 🙂 By the time we went back to the hotel my belly literally hurt because I was so (sexually) excited. Things couldn’t go wrong. But they did. He couldn’t enter me. It hurt SO bad I begged him to stop, which he did, but instead he masturbated for a few seconds and sprayed his stuff all over me.

    It’s really hard for me to write this down but I felt SO humiliated. I thought: is this it? Is this how sex feels? I felt betrayed by my mum who said preparation is the key. And while I get it that my boyfriend was super exited as well after such an intense day, he clearly found his own climax to be more important. I felt devastated. Each time I had the idea my boyfriend was going to ask for sex, I pleasured him manually – as fast as I could – to make sure he wouldn’t ask to penetrate me. When he came I knew he wouldn’t insist on sex anymore – it’s a trick I’ve heard from other patients as well. In the mean time – and I know this sounds weird – I still became sexually excited when I kissed him and he touched me. But I didn’t know how to get a climax, so the excitement actually turned into frustration most of the time, which added to my aversion towards sex.

    He broke up with me a few months later and it was only after hearing about vaginismus I knew what was going on. Had someone (my mother for instance) told me what vaginismus was, I would have looked out for treatment way earlier. People often give the impression sex is fun, and when it hurts it’s your own fault (not wet enough, not enough foreplay, not in the mood, etc). But the option that sex might also be impossible even if you want it, is often left out.


    I couldn’t agree more.

    Around 15-17% of all women suffer from vaginismus, according to Google. That is a HUGE amount. At least one out of ten girls will be unable to have sex when they try for the first time. I think this is basic info that should be told to everyone in sex ed, also to males. This will make it easier to recognize the signals.

    About the rest I’ve made a separate post, I hope you don’t mind.


    Hi annelies – I’m so sorry to hear about your sexual experiences, I understand well the feelings of pain and shame you’re describing.

    First of all, rabbit is totally right in that a LOT of women will suffer from vaginismus over the course of their lives – sometimes like with you (and me) it will be something that’s happening the first time they try to have sex. Other times it happens later in life to women who were previously able to have pain-free sex (sometimes after childbirth or because of other issues). But the crazy thing is that if you aren’t one of that percentage of women who has experienced vaginismus, there’s a good chance you don’t know it exists! One of the most frustrating things about it is that our culture does not communicate well that vaginal pain in women isn’t always happening because you’re “not relaxed enough” and that there can be other physiological reasons in play like your experience of vaginismus. Since there’s so much personal shame attached to the diagnosis, women who experience it are often secretive about their situation, so their friends and family don’t have any idea of what they’re going through (or that vaginismus exists). Chances are your mom had no idea vaginismus was a thing and just assumed you’d be able to have a normal sexual experience, which is unfortunate since you relied on her advice – which would have been good if all had gone to plan!

    Your other experiences around arousal and how you pleased your partner are super normal. Some people with vaginismus can still be aroused and have orgasms as long as they’re getting pain-free stimulation – you’re just averse to the parts of the process that are painful. And unfortunately younger men who have less sexual experience are operating with the same lack of information that you are, so they likely don’t know that the pain you were having isn’t normal. The older you get, you’ll hopefully meet more experienced partners who care about your pleasure and will work with you to stimulate you in ways you enjoy.

    There are a lot of treatment options out there for vaginismus, so if it’s something you want to work on, you have choices of processes that can work for you. Let us know if you have any questions – I’m glad you’ve learned about what’s happening and don’t have to be so in the dark!

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