My relationship is crumbling due to Vaginismus

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    I’m hoping someone could offer me some advice/comfort.

    I’ve been in a relationship with a truly loving partner for 5 years after getting together when we were 18. We’ve never been able to have sex. In the first year I wanted to have sex with him but we took it slow because of my past experiences and how I would often react to him touching me. After a failed first few attempts I began to associate it with pain and slowly but surely all intimacy fizzled out of our relationship.

    It took 3 years for him to convince me to go to the doctors. I was diagnosed with Vaginismus and sent to a sex therapist. She gave us excercises to do together. For a few months our relationship felt so strong but then it started to deteriorate. Due to college/work we rarely got time to see each other and when we did it was focusing on the excercises. Eventually our whole relationship became about our failed sex lives. I was miserable.

    My boyfriend was forever blaming me for the lack of progress, saying I wasn’t doing enough and he was putting in all the effort. This was really hard to hear when for me just engaging in sexual activities took every ounce of effort from me. I was constantly battling my own mind to convince myself I was enjoying our intimacy so that it would eventually lead to penetration. Which did not happen because I ended up feeling nothing but anxiety, awkwardness and eventually, pain.

    Our relationship got so bad he convinced me not go to therapy anymore. We decided to stop trying to overcome this to focus on our relationship. I felt as though things had got better so I started using my dialators again and began to build up my confidence. We decided to try again. I felt absolutely nothing. No drive, no chemistry, just the two of us trying to achieve something. It was exactly how it was before we took a break. I just didn’t want to be with him like that.

    My worry is this. Has it been too long without intimacy in our relationship for this to work? I don’t want to have sex with him because it feels wrong. Lying with him naked makes me feel dirty. I still find him attractive but I don’t picture ripping his clothes off in a moment of passion. I love him so much and I love having him by my side. But sexually, it just doesn’t seem to be there anymore. We’ve tried being spontaneous and that still doesn’t work.

    I met someone at work who made me feel alive again. I felt chemistry with them. I fantasised about them. I asked my therapist (when I was still attending) if I were to be with someone new would it be easier and she said yes. I firmly believed this until I had a vaginal scan and the nurse couldn’t insert the probe without me crying tears of pain. I realised then that I would have a problem regardless of my partner. But after my boyfriend and I tried again I’m back to my worries of its us as well as me that is the problem.

    I feel so alone and lost. He is very supportive but I think now he’s getting frustrated. I try to tell him my worries but all he says is that he’s fine and he still wants to have sex with me. Which is great for him who still has a sex drive. I have none. Sometimes I wonder if I’m just not someone who becomes particularly sexually aroused. I need to know if this is a normal part of over coming Vaginismus, if we’ll be able to get over it together or if there is something wrong with me other than just Vaginismus.

    Thank you in advance for any advice you can give


    Islander – thanks so much for sharing your story. You have clearly struggled for some time, and your experience sounds so challenging.

    I give you tremendous credit for being so courageous – you’ve tried several avenues to remedy the issues at hand, and none are easy. Vaginismus is interpersonal by nature so women are tasked not only to process their own emotions but carry those of their partners as well. Even the most supportive of relationships can

    As to whether or not things will be easier with a new partner (or by employing untried techniques/procedures like Botox injections) is impossible to say. No one can make that decision for you, but you will make the best choices from a place of knowledge. If you are near one of our offices, I recommend you come in for an initial appointment. At the very least, you’ll leave with solid information, but more often than not, we’ll likely be able to offer at least a few treatment options.
    Call us for a free 10-minute consult and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

    I wish you all my best!


    Hi Islander,
    I am almost crying reading your story as I am in the exact same position
    I have been with my boyfriend for 9 years since I was 18 and we have never had intercourse in that whole time! (And I never have) *embarrassed and crying face*

    We have tried a number of things like sex toys and Vaginismus books, Only in the past year have I started going to a therapist, ive been going for just under a year and am only half way using the second dilator. It feels awful and unnatural and my body will not allow it access! and I have to sit and explain to two men (my therapist and my boyfriend) why I am still no further forward with it!
    I don’t know about your boyfriend but mine seems to think if we just “shove something up” it’ll work out ok!….
    I don’t think men understand how painful, traumatic and completely frightening it all is

    I too feel dirty thinking about doing anything sexual together, even to the point where I’ll completely avoid him in the bedroom I can’t even bare to kiss sometimes as I know it’ll lead to more. Not that we even try intercourse! Like you, I also have 0 sex drive though I do still find my boyfriend attractive and he is beyond supportive I feel nothing (sounds awful I know) I do wonder as well if I had a new partner if I would be able to do it…

    I’m sorry you had such an awful time getting a test, it’s very brave of you. I have still not gone for my smear test as I know they won’t be able to do it and I will be traumatized by even the thought of someone looking down there, never mind the pain…

    I’m sorry I think I have blabbed at you a bit too much!

    Anyway, thank you for sharing your story and please know you are not alone in your struggles, there are others that feel the same and are going through the same thing and I for one am almost relieved to find I am not alone

    I wish you all the best


    Islander – I’m so sorry about the painful experience you had! Like Justoneday said, this is such a familiar story for so many of us who have suffered from vaginismus (I did for 10 years before I got the Botox treatment at Maze), but the torrent of emotions like shame and frustration and self-loathing and disappointment is so easy to conjure up again because it was so strong and felt like such a pit I was trapped in.

    I think the way you feel about your current partner is very interesting and very telling. All the stress of years of frustration, resentment, and pain have built up in the relationship you have with this man and created a wall that exists between you. There’s no way to think about your intimacy without feeling the weight of that dark history, those failed attempts, that pressure. It’s no wonder you can no longer feel attracted to someone when the idea of intimacy with them is so wrapped up in all these negative emotions!

    Jennifer is right in that you can’t know whether your vaginismus would be less pronounced with this other person, but I DO think that what would be missing would be the years of baggage you’ve had inside a particular sexual dynamic. Your comment about wondering if you’re someone who gets sexually aroused is interesting too – this is definitely a question I had about myself when I was in the throes of vaginismus, but go back and read the first few paragraphs of what you wrote – how could ANYONE feel arousal amidst all those dark feelings?! It doesn’t necessarily mean that you lack sexual desire, just that it’s inaccessible in your current dynamic. That’s why you can feel chemistry and fantasy around a man who hasn’t enforced this level of pressure.

    I think whatever you do next should start with a big step back. You’re incapable of being attracted to your boyfriend at this point because your intimacy is so damaged, so you can’t keep pushing against the same physical and emotional wall that’s stood between you for so long. If you want to save this relationship, you’ll have to redefine the intimacy you two share. That can be as simple as rediscovering what you two like sexually that ISN’T penetrative. You can kiss and run your hands slowly along each other’s bodies and try other things and see what feels good so that you can rediscover what a sexual relationship would start to feel like with him. The ironic thing is that I think if you woke up tomorrow and your vaginismus was magically gone, you would still feel resentful and kind of disgusted at the idea of being intimate with him! Sex is just as much (if not more) about emotions as it is about body parts, and without intimacy and trust it’ll be harder to recover that desire.

    None of us can tell you what to do about your relationship, but I can tell you that it’s worth it to trust a gut feeling. If you do try to recover your relationship and something deep and core inside you still says “get away from me!” whenever this man touches you, then maybe the relationship has run its course. I’ve lost partners along the way because they came at a time when I wasn’t really ready for treatment yet, and it’s a sad thing but it was necessary at the time. For you to move forward, you have to find your reasons for wanting to cure your vaginismus – and insane pressure from people outside of you can’t be one of them. It doesn’t work unless it’s something YOU want. I hope that whatever you choose you take the space to find those reasons so you can move forward with the conviction of them. They’ll give you hope again.

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