Making Peace with Vaginismus
February 17, 2019 at 10:47 pm #24375
Endofmytether, I totally understand this – I have the benefit of being younger and thus finding what may be a more receptive audience when I choose to share this about myself, but at the same time I’m very discerning about who I tell. Sometimes I just think there are people who will get it and people who won’t. But even I run into a lot of problems with when and how to talk about it.
I think in general people still tend to be prudish about sex except (and even sometimes with) their closest friends. I think your specific problem might be that people don’t know how to ask about it without feeling like they’re prying or possibly asking an inappropriate question. They also might understand how sensitive the issue is for you and be worried about triggering bad feelings. I think it follows the same social awkwardnesses people have when they hear about someone close to a friend they love dying. They’re afraid to bring up the death in case it’ll upset the person so they expect the person grieving to bring it up if they “want to talk.” I’m sure your friends support you but aren’t sure yet what shape their support should take.
I think starting off, one of the best things ways to go about it is to bring it up yourself. When a friend asks how you’re doing, you can say, “I’m fine, just feeling frustrated/triumphant/confused about how my dilating is going” or anything else that you want and leave room for them to ask follow-up questions. Modeling that it’s okay to talk about it will likely help them figure out how they can be there for you.
Also, I advise you tell your husband where you’re at emotionally right now! I would’t be surprised if you haven’t mentioned it to him yet because you’re afraid it won’t work, or you’ll disappoint him, or you may even want to surprise him, but his support will be so valuable along the way – I highly recommend you access it!February 19, 2019 at 3:16 pm #24398endofmytetherParticipant
Thanks for your feedback. I know you really understand my position and I’m grateful for your support. I’ll let you know what happens and any progress hopefully.February 19, 2019 at 11:36 pm #24409
Of course! I’m just glad you found this community!June 22, 2021 at 2:39 am #44356SexlessInSeattleParticipant
I’m also trying to figure out how to share this with others. I had some deeper talks with friends about vaginismus in my 20s. Some of their responses were helpful, some weren’t. It feels more shameful to discuss this as I’ve gotten older — it feels like there’s an expectation that I should be “figured out” in my 30s. I brought this up with a couple of friends recently. They had no particular reaction either way, didn’t ask any questions or make any comments at all. I think I am craving for someone to say something like “that must be hard” and just kind of open the window for me to be able to express myself more. Pondering the idea of asking for support more directly. I’m a pretty direct person – I’m actually writing this post from the crisis line where I volunteer, so I’m not a stranger to talking about difficult or stigmatized issues. But it’s so much harder when it’s about working through my own judgment. I think that getting support and opening up are important parts of my healing but I don’t know how to move forward yet.June 26, 2021 at 12:03 pm #44864
SexlessInSeattle, it’s REALLY hard to talk about. I’m almost 5 years out from going through vaginismus treatment and eve though I haven’t had painful sex in a long time, it’s still something I can find hard or embarrassing to discuss with some people. Unfortunately as a society we just have a LOT of stigma in talking about sex in certain ways. Something I felt very acutely aware of was that in college, it was customary to go to breakfast on a Sunday morning and sit with my friends as they regaled us with hookup stories, but at the same time it felt IMPOSSIBLE to broach the topic of NOT being able to have sex or that sex being really painful. There are certain ways we’ve brought sex out into the open (when it’s working) but other ways we shut it into darkness (when it’s complicated or hard).
If you have friends you are really close to who normally support you emotionally, you may just need to be more direct in asking for support or a listening ear because even compassionate people sometimes just don’t know how to communicate about this stuff. Also, this is a sad fact but the older you get, I think you’ll start to encounter more women who have other types of experiences with pain (even if it wasn’t early-onset vaginismus) – many women struggle with sexual pain as they’re going through menopause or after they’ve given birth so you may find yourself less and less alone in this. I hope you have a community that can encircle you in love – you deserve that, and sometimes we just need to show people how to talk to us about what matters.
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