"The body never lies." --Martha Grahm.
This blog is intended to be an exploration of what it is to have a body and navigate that relationship with said possession through mortality, society, and spirituality. It will include research, articles, pictures, quotes, personal stories, videos, insights, poems, monologues, letters, jokes, recipes, confessions, ETC. Hopefully in reading this you find connection, sincerity, and heart. Healing is possible. Living is the reward. Contribute!
Friday, July 27, 2012
We discovered that my wife had vaginismus about six months after we were married. Starting on our wedding night, we had been unable to achieve "normal" intercourse and every subsequent attempt resulted in tears, pain, and humiliation.
My poor wife had no idea why she could not have sex. She knew that it could be painful, but nothing like this. When she went in for a pre-wedding exam, the doctor was cold and impersonal, traumatizing her and frightening her with how painful it was. He mentioned something about stretching in preparation for the wedding night, but gave no practical advice.
Her friends were worse. For months before the wedding, she was bombarded by stories about how painful it can be. Nothing about pleasure, nothing about being comfortable with the sexual experiences. Just stories about pain. Jokes about pain. My wife was convinced that the wedding night would be an exercise in torture.
And so it was. Not only was attempted intercourse painful, but her vagina was actually closed off due to extreme muscle contractions. Those first six months were incredibly trying for us. How could we enjoy married life if we couldn't have sex?
My wife blamed herself, and felt like she was totally alone. After all, her friends had survived their own painful wedding nights with only a minimum of trauma.
I was extremely motivated to do some research and discovered vaginismus. The term is so unknown that the spell check in this email is flagging it. Basically, vaginismus is a real condition wherein women are unable to have intercourse because of pain and tightness. Many unconsummated relationships (and I expect many LDS divorces after the first year) are due to this condition, even though the people usually do not realize it.
What does this have to do with the body? Well, vaginismus can be caused by physical issues, but most often, it is mental. The anticipation of pain and suffering will cause an unconscious reaction that persists as vaginal tightening and pain. This condition is much more common in women from religious backgrounds who have not mentally prepared for the sexual experience and feel shame about their bodies.
Even though my wife and I spoke frankly about sex before our wedding, my wife's body issues (she is incredibly skinny, but filled with shame about her small breasts) and stories from the most unhelpful friends ever caused fear and anxiety.
We are one of those cases where the Vaginismus seems to be permanent. Even after five years of marriage, we have not had regular intercourse. We do have an active sex life, but it is not what most people experience. We have even had children, working around the problem as best we can.
I love my wife, and at this point, it is not even an issue for us. My only wish is that more people avoid this problem and those who suffer from it educate themselves. There are informational websites, like www.vaginismus.com that are a huge help and share stories from many women who suffer from this condition. I feel that LDS women in particular are vulnerable to vaginismus and it is never talked about. (I am posting anonymously because my wife would never forgive me if anyone ever found out.)
Education is key, as is loving yourself and being comfortable with sexuality.