Made lots of progress, but struggling with transitioning

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  • #36032
    Piscean77
    Participant

    Hello

    This is my first post, even though I have read various posts here on an off for the past year, I just didn’t feel courageous enough to post my own story. I’m 43 and have suffered with primary vaginismus since I first realised I couldn’t have intercourse many years ago. I was single for a long time. It was only when I got into my second relationship at 39 with my now husband and when things started to get serious that I knew I had to share with him that I believed I may have vaginismus. We thought we could deal with it on our own with time and things would just miraculously happen(!) but a few months after we married, I realised I needed to seek help. It was really starting to affect me emotionally and I was scared that it might impact our relationship.

    To cut a long story short, I found a lovely psychosexual therapist last year and have made really good progress through the stages – working with each dilator, slowly and gradually but always with success. My husband joins me in the therapy sessions and has been my absolute rock. I couldn’t have got to this stage without him. He helps me with the dilators too, so I mix things up with using them on my own and then sometimes when we are intimate, he will put the dilator in.

    Paying for the sessions myself has meant that I have chosen to spread out appointments once we started dilating, as it isn’t cheap….. so progress has been steady but at times frustratingly slow. Dilating has been a bit too on and off at times. Having said that, not putting pressure on has I think benefitted me in other ways. Vaginismus has not dominated our daily lives and we have definitely learnt a lot about one another sexually and emotionally.

    So this is where I am now. We have recently been working on transitioning in baby steps. What my therapist calls ‘making friends’ with the penis. I cannot fault her – she has been so supportive all along and we both find it easy to talk with her. But I am really struggling with this last stage. I was lucky that although the other stages were tough and scary (I cried when I got the smallest dilator in), I never hit any major roadblocks, apart from some stinging on removal. Getting to dilator 4 was something I never thought I would achieve and I have.

    We have had a handful of times placing the penis in the opening of the vagina and getting used to the sensation, not pushing, just taking things in tiny steps. I am doing the breathing, relaxing the pelvic muscles when he is there, but only twice has it felt like he was a little way in. The other times I am feeling the strong discomfort again and it’s making me despondent. We are finding that using a lubricant helps (we favour almond oil), but I could do with ANY extra tips forum members may have on this stage of the process. I believe if I can get past that ring of muscles, we can do it, but I feel at times like screaming at my body when it won’t do what I want it to.

    Sorry for the long post!

    #36133
    recessivegenequeen
    Participant

    Hi Piscean77 – first of all, congratulations on your bravery for being willing to post on these forums and share your story! It’s not an easy thing to do, and it’s also clear that you’ve made a lot of progress and hav a trusting partner behind you who has supported you at every step. The first thing you should do is recognize just how much progress you’ve made so far that used to be impossible. It’s definitely slower going than we want after living with the problem for so long, but it’s a journey that takes how long it takes.

    The transition from dilation to intercourse can be a very tricky part since it’s such a big emotional step. Is the largest dilator you’re using larger than your partner’s penis? For me it helped to be able to insert something bigger than my partner because it gave me the confidence to assume I’d be able to have my partner’s penis inside me without discomfort – in fact, it’s usually easier because a penis is softer and more pliant than a rigid silicone or plastic dilator. Dilating this size right before you’re attempting intercourse is the best way to prepare yourself, but you’re also doing good work in having your partner help insert the dilators sometimes to practice giving someone else control. And yes, lubricant is SOOOOO important, and the more the better! I’m 4 years out of having my vaginismus treatment and I still use lube copiously. You might also look at a lube designed specifically for sex (oils CAN work but also face complications when they come up against condoms or can be irritating to the body). I personally prefer a silicone blend like Sliquid Silk:

    I hope some of this helps! Let us know how it goes for you – you’re so close, keep at it!

    #36277
    Piscean77
    Participant

    Thank you recessivegenequeen! I really appreciate your reply. One of the hardest parts of this has been feeling so isolated with the problem.

    I have got another water based lubricant my therapist suggested….I might give that a go too. I do find the almond oil really nice and no irritation for either of us. It feels luxurious rather than medical. I’m on the pill, so don’t have to worry so much about what works with a condom.

    It’s really interesting what you say about size. My therapist said from the start not to worry about dilator no5, as we only work up to no4 before transitioning. But my husband is definitely bigger than no4 and I think this has really affected my ability to imagine getting his penis in. It’s definitely the width that is the concern for me (sorry for the detail!). I know from dilating, that once I get past those pesky muscles at the entrance, the length of the dilator isn’t so much of a problem. So, we discussed at our last session using no5 and my therapist said to go for it, if I feel it would help. Last week I dilated with no4 and then as soon as I removed it, I braved no5. I managed to get it in 2 inches. This was a real breakthrough for me. It felt so much bigger, but each one felt like that to start with.

    I realise so much of it is connected to thoughts and feelings and I feel a lot of pent up anger still, which I think I need to talk to her about next week.

    We are also finding it difficult to find a comfortable position for us both. He is a bit more flexible than me generally and luckily has had no problems maintaining an erection, but his penis has a tendency to curve down a little. It feels like if we could get the angle right when he places himself there, there is a better chance of success. I think the hitting the wall feeling is because of that and I’m not sure how we get in the right position?

    In the meantime, I’m going to keep reminding myself how far I’ve come. Thanks x

    #36474
    Heather
    Participant

    Hello Piscean77!
    First of all, CONGRATULATIONS on all your success!! I’m so happy for you!! Transitioning to sex is weird in the beginning. When I was overcoming vaginismus, I was told by Melissa that it is ideal to be able to dilate with a dilator that is bigger than your partners penis. That way, when you transition to sex, getting his penis in there won’t hurt because your body is capable of bigger! Also when you transition to sex it’s so much easier when you dilate beforehand. Use more time dilating going in and out with the dilator to simulate sex and when you feel ready enough, remove the dilator and have your husband follow the same rythm you had when you were dilating. Sex will feel kind of lame in the beginning, dilating beforehand may or may not be something you enjoy doing as foreplay but the more you dilate and have sex, eventually you will no longer need to dilate before sex. 🙂 But it certainly helps tremendously! Dilating prepares your body for the penis and having a really good lube is key too. The right lube can make a world of difference! And the correct position is tricky too! This is a learning experience for you and your husband. You’ll both need to learn through trial and error what works best for you two! I know it seems frustrating, but it actually is a wonderful opportunity to bond on a completely different level and very soon it will become lots of fun and you two will share a new life involving sex that you never could have imagined! 🙂 I’m rooting for you!! You’re so close keep up the amazing work!!

    #36618
    Piscean77
    Participant

    Thank you so much Heather! I have had a really stressful week, so only just logged in to read your reply.

    Your post is giving me hope to keep believing it can happen. I really don’t mind if success to start with is a bit lame – I just want it to happen, so we can then work on things from there 🙂

    I completely agree about bonding on another level. We have learnt so much about one another through this process and our intimacy has grown better in so many ways. We spoke with my therapist on Tuesday and she was also encouraging that we are making small progress all the time.

    We will definitely use the dilator first and hopefully that should help. I found that helped when I tried no5 straight after no4.

    I’m also dealing with quite a bit of stress related to family at the moment, so that is challenging me a lot. But I am so glad I finally took the step to post here.

    Thanks for listening. Just knowing there are people out there who understand and have actually been through it really helps x

    #36782
    Heather
    Participant

    Piscean77,
    I’m so happy to help! 🙂 Having a positive attitude about vaginismus just makes it even easier to overcome! How are you doing?

    #36911
    Piscean77
    Participant

    Hi Heather

    Thank you 😊

    Since I last posted, we’ve made some progress! Life has been very busy, but we have had 2 attempts and both times we got the head of the penis fully in. I discovered that holding him and actually guiding it in super-slowly is helping us to know what is happening, if that makes sense?! The second time in particular the head was completely in as I kept my hand on his penis so when he gently pulled away, I could see and feel how much we got in. I cried because deep down I still didn’t believe it was possible. It wasn’t too uncomfortable either, so feeling really pleased.

    Hoping to get another attempt in this weekend before speaking to my therapist in Tuesday.

    By the way, we used the dilator first (just number 4), but I think that also helped 👍🤞xx

    So good to be able to share it here! We’re not there yet, but I’m starting to believe xx

    #36913
    Piscean77
    Participant

    Hi Heather

    Thank you 😊

    Since I last posted, we’ve made some progress! Life has been very busy, but we have had 2 attempts and both times we got the head of the penis fully in. I discovered that holding him and actually guiding it in super-slowly is helping us to know what is happening, if that makes sense?! The second time in particular the head was completely in as I kept my hand on his penis so when he gently pulled away, I could see and feel how much we got in. I cried because deep down I still didn’t believe it was possible. It wasn’t too uncomfortable either, so feeling really pleased.

    Hoping to get another attempt in this weekend before speaking to my therapist in Tuesday.

    By the way, we used the dilator first (just number 4), but I think that also helped 👍🤞xx

    So good to be able to share it here! We’re not there yet, but I’m starting to believe xx

    #38273
    recessivegenequeen
    Participant

    Hi Piscean77 – I’m so glad to hear you’ve made such good progress! Heather’s advice was great, and she’s totally right in that the transition to intercourse really is strange. You’re doing it exactly right, especially in going really slow. I found that being on top when I was first starting out and being able to be in more control about angle and depth definitely helped. I ALSO cried the first time my partner was able to insert his penis so I think that’s pretty normal after all the work we put in!

    How has it been going? I hope you’ve made even more progress in the past few weeks!

    #38773
    mmHelen Leff, LCSW
    Moderator

    Hi all,
    This is a beautiful thread and what the forum is all about. Sometimes it’s a matter of tweaking some things and tremendous progress can be made!
    Thanks everyone and keep bringing Vaginismus into the light,
    Helen

    #39256
    Piscean77
    Participant

    Thank you recessivegenequeen (-: I really appreciate your input.

    I have been away from the forum (and also not practicing much with our progress unfortunately) as January has been a really stressful month with my mum having a fall, and then various tests and now a neurology appointment tomorrow. I have been so preoccupied with all this and supporting her (with all the coronavirus restrictions in place, it’s making dealing with this stuff especially difficult) that we’ve not spent much time working on things….

    Somehow, we’ve managed two more times – and we have reached a similar point. I just haven’t felt in the right mindset at all. My hubby is really great and there is no time pressure, so hoping we can just keep trying when I’m having less stressful days. Life sometimes gets in the way, I guess!

    I just wondered if anyone else has felt feelings of guilt or discomfort about being sexual with a partner when dealing with family illness/stress?

    I really appreciate getting feedback and support here – so thank you x

    #39569
    recessivegenequeen
    Participant

    Piscean77 – it is super normal to be struggling to keep up with treatment during stressful times! As much as it helps to have consistency while you’re trying to work on vaginismus, sometimes life gets in the way. Vaginismus exists so much in our minds that it’s easy for stress in other parts of our lives to leak into that process, and the absolute best thing you can do is to NOT push yourself harder than you need to. If it’s feeling like more than you can bear, the work will still be there for you when you’re ready.

    I think even for people without vaginismus, it can be hard to get into a sexual frame of mind if other things in a person’s life are chaotic. Being present sexually requires shutting out other thoughts and distractions, and stress (whether it’s from family illness, coronavirus fears, job issues, or anything else at all) can make it hard to access that focus. Talking about these issues with your partner can take some of the pressure off and let them know THEY aren’t the reason you may be feeling less aroused and motivated as well. Treatment is a long journey and it’s okay to stop and rest on the way to the top of the mountain!

    #39825
    Piscean77
    Participant

    Thank you so much – this is really helpful. My mum has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, so a lot to get our heads around. I have felt no sexual desire lately and worrying about that side of things too. I think it’s great advice to know and remember that the progress I made won’t disappear and I have to be kind to myself.

    I’m going to speak to my husband about it. He is great, but I have sensed he doesn’t quite get how I can’t box things off in the way he can. I’m going to remind myself I’m just resting on the top of that mountain.

    Thanks, as ever, for this forum x

    #39926
    recessivegenequeen
    Participant

    I think that’s a great idea! He has seen you through a lot and I believe he’ll be understanding – men sometimes just need things explained to them. They often aren’t as good at inferring how others are feeling as women are :p But this is just one season of your life and it will pass in time!

    #39968
    Piscean77
    Participant

    Thank you x

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