I remember when I was sixteen trying to put a tampon in for the first time the summer after I got my period. It just could not go up there for the life of me. I was getting worked up and on the verge of tears as my mom said we were leaving in a few minutes and I need to hurry up. I decided to just sit on the beach in a pad that day. There were a few more instances like that between the time I was fifteen to eighteen. I thought it was just all in my head.
Thanksgiving break my freshman year of college. My mom said that I should be going to the OBGYN, or the lady doctor as I call them, soon. I made the appointment a couple days later and in I went. The appointment went fine and then the doctor asked, “any questions?”, and I saw my opportunity. I explained how I have never been able to put anything ‘up there’ for as long as I could remember and it was really frustrating and made me upset because I want to put stuff up there! She walked me through a different exam and asked me questions and allowed me to open up and be vulnerable… and then she diagnosed me. She explained I had vaginismus. What the literal f*ck is vaginismus? According to the NHS, vaginismus “is the body’s automatic reaction to the fear of some or all types of vaginal penetration.” It can be a physical or a mental response but one thing is the same for both: you have no control over it. I have no control over it. No control.
The doctor kept explaining vaginismus but I was not listening. I was horrified, yet it all made sense. It wasn’t because of my own head, it was because of certain occurrences in my life that led me to that. I asked her how to fix it, and how to cure it. The doctor explained I can never fully ‘cure’ it, but I can help it and work with my mind and body over time. I have to use dilators. Dilators are plastic or silicone that are shaped like a banana (wink, wink) that is inserted into the vagina to help stretch the tissues and relax the pelvic floor. Over time, the body becomes used to the insertion and the tissues and pelvic floor relax enough that penetration of other things are possible.
As something that seems like an issue for anyone with a vagina, I had barely heard about it or was able to find anyone who talked about their struggles personally. I found articles on how to “cure” your vaginismus, but none where people were talking about their personal experiences and what worked for them. It was extremely frustrating. Why is no one talking about this? I was sick of doctor articles and instead wanted someone my age who could relate. Vaginismus is a feminist issue as it deals with silent healthcare surrounding those who identify as women or have vaginas. Like so many other issues in society, they go unnoticed or untalked about and the women struggling with them get little to no help. We need more outreach and resources for those struggling with health issues of any kind. I wish I had more outreach when I was first diagnosed.
Living with vaginismus is hard. It is genuinely one of the hardest struggles I’ve had in my life. I struggle with it every day with myself, with partners, with society, with everything. I have six dilators increasing in size and haven’t gotten past the second size after a year and a half because of how nervous and anxious it makes me. I know I can be better, though. The right people in your life can help you be better at anything.
5 thoughts on “LIVING WITH VAGINISMUS”
Wow, I can’t believe that I no idea about vaginismus. Thank you for sharing your experience, it’s so important for people to talk about their experience and raise awareness. This is just one step closer to people understanding and knowing what it is!
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This was a very vulnerable topic to share that I’m sure many people encounter! Thank you for being open about your experiences and sharing this publicly!
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I’m so sorry about your difficult experience. It’s frustrating how little women’s sexual as well as reproductive health are advocated for and how we are shunned when talking about these things. Everyone is deserving of pleasure in all aspects of life and it’s so sad the stigmas around female sexuality, as well as just vaginal function. Although I don’t have this condition, I’ve also had a primarily women’s health related one and it was a painful experience to be shunned for my own body- which felt lesser because of different performance. Thank you for sharing.
This is such an important topic to speak about. I have heard about Vaginismus before, but never in the personal way that you described it. Thank you for taking time to explain what it is and how it affects your life. This is definitely a feminist issue and is something that needs to be spoken about more!
I’m sorry sorry to hear about your experience. That must of been hard to hear from your doctor. This is my first time hearing about vaginismus thank you for telling your story!