Friday, July 27, 2012

vaginismus--anonymous

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.

4 comments:

  1. A few weeks after I got married, my cousin called me. She asked, "How is it really? I know you'll tell me the truth."

    And the truth was, that I threw up after the first time my new husband and I made love. The morning after our wedding he left the hotel to get me soda crackers and Sprite. I became a little distant that day not sure what I was feeling. He sensed it, and said he wouldn't touch me until I said it was okay, that me being happy and comfortable was the most important thing to him. I was still sick to my stomach for much of our honeymoon, and he sweetly made food for me and coaxed me to eat(nausea is my response to stress).

    Slowly, through his gentle love I started to be okay with this new part of my life. And, today I can't imagine our sex life to be any better.

    So when I answered my cousin's question, I told her to marry a man who who is gentle and loving and willing to take her feelings into consideration above his own, and it will all be okay. In fact, it will be wonderful.

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  2. Thank you so much for your post. My vaginismus is my secret: a source of darkness, embarrassment, guilt, and constant heartache. So much of what you say has been a part of my experience. My husband and I have also been married for nearly five years. Without his completely selfless love and never-judgmental support, I would be lost. The forum on vaginismus.com has brought me an incredible amount of strength and peace, but hearing about vaginismus in another setting is shockingly . . . can I say comforting? My heart goes out so completely to you and your wife. Thank you for writing about these things. Thank you to both you and your wife for your strength. My thoughts are with you. I wish we could share more . . . .
    I love this blog, Dana. At first I didn't think it would apply to me, but I was so wrong. The experiences and thoughts recorded here have strengthened me and are changing my perspective--a perspective that I didn't know needed changing. Thank you. Thank you to everyone who has been and will be a part of this. What a beautiful thing.

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  3. Thanks for your post. You are right.It's not talked about enough. We need to have more conversations about the failures the mormon church has when it comes to teaching about sexuality.

    My wife and I have been married 2 1/2 years and it's the same(unconsummated). The way leaders discuss sexuality in the Young Women's program is not only archaic but I believe it is an injustice. It's exploiting the insecurities inherent in any teenagers and instilling guilt, shame and fear. Because guilt/shame/fear are better motivators for morality than lessons about compassion or Jesus Christ.

    I'd be interested to read more about it's impact on divorce. If this lasts the rest of our life, I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to come out in the open about vaginismus on our 30th wedding anniversary or something and give fleeting reference the fact that we left the church. It boogles my mind that people get divorced because they can't have sex. I didn't marry my wife to have sex. I married her because I couldn't imagine a fuller life without her in it.

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  4. I just had a THEOLOGICAL DISCOVERY: God is indeed a MALE. The reasons are:

    1.) If God is a female, she would never inflict women with painful intercourse. She would merely inflict them with infertility. Her empathy towards women's feelings will always prevail.

    2.) It is known in history that men treat women as property. Therefore, if God inflicts a woman with primary vaginismus, thick hymen or dry vagina, then her vagina is now the property of God. She's meant to control the population.

    This proves that God is a male, because for him, there are things more important than empathy towards females. This explains why painful intercourse is MORE COMMON among females than males.
    Because God is a MALE and treats some women as his property to control the population.

    I am now an enlightened man.

    If vaginismus is one of God's test to humanity, then it seems to violate his own commandment (to be fruitful and multiply). God seems to contradict himself. Claiming that it is a test makes God so unreasonable.

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