It's Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up!
Last week on Wifey Wednesday I wrote about what to do when sex is just ho hum. I received some comments asking about what to do when sex just plain hurts, and I thought it was time for a Wifey Wednesday on vaginismus, the condition when the vagina tenses up and makes sex very painful.
If you're finding that it hurts, but you don't have a full-blown medical condition called vaginismus, this post
by Hot, Holy and Humorous covers the subject well. But I want to talk to the 5% of women who have actual muscle pain that makes sex either impossible or very, very difficult.
For those who are tormented by it, it’s horrible indeed. Many of these women can’t insert tampons or handle pelvic exams at the doctor’s office, either. One respondent to the survey I put together for my upcoming book, The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex, who is 29 and married for eight years, says “vaginismus put an end to sex years ago.” Today she and her husband make love less than once a month.
Before you start panicking, let me assure you that most women who experience pain when they make love don’t actually have vaginismus.
It’s simply that they’re a little nervous, and so a little bit more tense than they usually would be. When you're a newlywed, rest assured that some women do feel more than just a little sting when the hymen tears. If the couple has sex a number of times over the next few days before that tear has healed, the pain can be aggravated. It will, however, subside with time.
The medical condition of vaginismus, on the other hand, is caused when the muscles at the top 1 ½ inches of the vagina tense up (or the bottom, depending on how you look at it—it’s really just the 1 ½ inches closest to the opening).
If you’ve used a tampon, you’ve probably encountered these muscles without realizing it, because once you get the tampon passed that first inch and a half, it glides in much more easily.
These muscles tense involuntarily; you’re not doing it on purpose.
Reassure yourself and your husband that if you’re having this problem, it certainly is not deliberate! In fact, it’s rather difficult to get those muscles to un-tense. But you can!
The best route to a cure is to identify the underlying reason for this condition. For some it’s caused by a childhood trauma, like sexual abuse. For others, it’s a relationship issue: you just don’t feel safe and able to relax. If you take things slowly and work on why you don’t feel safe, and talk to counsellors or mentors if any past abuse issues are a factor, you’ll likely find that the pain will subside as your heart is healed.
Unfortunately, for many the causes just aren’t clear. Even worse, there isn’t very much a physician can do. But that doesn't mean it's hopeless. What you can try to do is to train yourself to control those muscles, and thus learn to relax them.
When you’re peeing, try to stop the flow of urine. Feel those muscles? They’re the pelvic floor muscles, the same ones that tense up when you have pain. Everytime you pee, try to tense and relax, tense and relax, three or four times so that your body learns how to relax.
Then, when you start to make love, have him enter you just a little way until it starts to hurt, and try the same thing: tense first, and then relax. You may have to spend a few minutes doing this (try to treat it like a game, and for him it will probably feel nice, anyway, because you’re squeezing him), and eventually you’ll likely find that it doesn’t hurt as much. Other treatments include progressively larger “vaginal dilators”. This sounds absolutely horrible and clinical, but it’s just another way of saying “putting increasingly larger things in there”, building up to something which is about the thickness of an erect penis.
Gynecologists and family doctors who specialize in this field often provide small silicone devices of various sizes to use, but if you really don’t want to go to a doctor, you can be creative. Just make sure it’s safe, and that you use safe cleaner afterwards to avoid infection. You can use this as part of your foreplay, too, and see if you can handle narrow things, building up to thicker things.
When Debbie was married, she was afraid she’d have issues because she had never been able to use tampons, and she had been sexually abused as a child. Sure enough, she found sex very difficult. Her husband Max was extremely patient with her for the first four months, taking time to play around with her and get them both more relaxed. Then, when they finally did try intercourse again, she found that the pain had gone away because she felt so accepted and loved.
If it’s hurting, tell your husband that story. Sure, it’s hard to be patient. But being patient will often be what helps her to be able to relax and release her real sexuality! For most women, vaginismus is a head thing. Our muscles tense up because we’re scared, threatened, or worried, but it’s completely involuntary. You can’t make yourself stop.
If you put pressure on yourself, though, and feel badly about it, the pain will likely last a lot longer! The only thing you can do physically is to train your body to relax, and emotionally to learn to feel more comfortable in your relationship. A great resource for this is the vaginismus website
, with lots of testimonials and lots of help.
One more thought: communicate to your husband that you dream of a great sex life, too.
If he knows that this is still your goal—even if you don’t know how you’re going to get there—it’s going to be much easier for him to be patient than if he thinks you’re resigned to staying this way for the rest of your life.
Now, what advice do you have for us today? Write your own Wifey Wednesday post that links back to here, and then leave the link of THAT POST in the Mcklinky below. Thanks!