In honor of Valentine's weekend, I thought it fitted to share this personal story from Lexi. The propaganda for V-day is all about romance, self-love, sex, and desire. An occasion to woo someone else for individual or mutual happiness. If you can't tell, I'm not a fan of Valentine's Day. The point is, pleasure looks different to everyone, and sometimes it's something we have to work for daily. Romantic holidays can increase the feeling of pressure.
I'm EXTREMELY proud of Lexi for sharing her below story. It's intimate, private, and showcases her strength during a very vulnerable and ongoing journey. I hope you find this post informative. Lexi wanted me to remind everyone her journey is from a cis-hetero's point of view. It will not look like this for everyone, nor should it because we're all going through our own journey. That doesn't mean we have to do it alone.
Vaginismus is a condition in which involuntary muscle spasm (emphasis on involuntary) interferes with vaginal intercourse; or other penetration of the vagina like tampon insertion or gynecological exams.
In other words, penetration hurts A LOT. It hurts at insertion, which is sometimes referred to as "the ring of fire." Because that's what it feels like, like the opening of your vagina is on fire. It also burns in the canal because the vagina tenses up so much that it can create a "wall" that will physically not let anything inside.
You most likely have never heard of this condition. This is because even though it's been a known condition for 100 years, pelvic floor therapy as a subset of physical therapy is relatively new, like the past ten years or so. There are even still some gynos out there that are unaware of it. I also suspect that it's just not talked about a lot because of its private nature. The cause varies. The most common cause is sexual trauma or internalized fear of sex, but this is not always the case. Sometimes it's as innocuous as being on birth control pills for a prolonged amount of time. This can cause the tissues at the opening to degrade and thin, causing the initial pain that then leads to muscle spasms (what happened to me).
Of course, there are other effects of this condition, other than not being able to get a penis in your vagina. It is very mentally and emotionally draining. It can make you feel broken. Like you're not a real woman. How can you feel like a real woman when the thing that makes you one is broken?
It can make you feel very alone because who do you tell and how do you tell them? It's a very embarrassing thing to admit because penis in vagina (PIV) sex is one of the most important things in people's lives, making it very difficult to tell anyone without the fear of being judged or ridiculed. The majority of people can't relate, and you mostly get pity instead of sympathy. I have heard in my own life someone say that if their wife had it that they didn't think they could have married them. Which is fair; they're allowed to feel that way but comments like that fucking hurt. It perpetuates the idea that there is something wrong with you. That you can't ever truly be loved, who would love someone like that? Divorce and broken relationships are common occurrences. It also causes difficulties in even starting romantic relationships.
Fortunately, there is a cure. The most common solution is manual physical therapy and vaginal dilators or psychosexual therapy. Some women can see progress in just a few months, but it can take up to a decade or more, depending on the severity and treatment plan.
I have been on this journey for five years, but I am still very hopeful.
I have a significant other (S/O) who has been with me for my entire journey, in which I am fortunate. Through this, I have learned that (PIV) sex is not the most important aspect of a romantic relationship, believe it or not. My S/O and I have adapted and figured out how to be intimate in other ways. We still have sex; it's just not what most might picture. I don't believe this condition has hurt our relationship. On the contrary, I wholeheartedly believe it has made it even stronger than it might have been. I have learned the true definition of unconditional love because my S/O loves me unconditionally every day.