Don’t give up.
So you’ve recently learnt the name for what experiencing: it’s Vaginismus.
So, your vaginal muscles tighten up when you try to have penetrative sex, and it’s difficult and painful in a way that sex never used to be after the first couple of times.
No – you’re not broken or to blame, and yes – you are going to have amazing, all-pleasure-no-pain sex again in your life. Lots of it, in fact. I promise: At some points during your twenties, not too far away (coughyourJ1summercough) you’ll practically have it coming out your ears. Mm, messy.
You’re also not alone. Even though you feel like the only person in Ireland dealing with this condition, I can tell you this is not true.
You got lucky at 18 with a boyfriend whose parents didn’t mind you staying overnight and you were able to explore sex in a safe, warm, relaxed environment. So you know already that this makes a difference. Having a (much, much better) boyfriend now with more conservative parents means you’re limited to rushed, cold, infrequent, tense sex in unsafe places because there’s nowhere private for you to spend time together, and I’ll be honest – this isn’t going to change any time soon. (I know. Not my fault. Don’t look at me like the moody teenager you still can be as a 20-year-old.)
Vaginismus is tough, and I’m not going to sugar-coat the amount of work that’s needed to get through this, but I assure you that this will actually change your life for the better. Let’s look at the positives that will come from this situation.
1. Your current boyfriend is a lovely person, and he’s the healthy support you really need after an emotionally abusive relationship. No, you can’t stay over at his house when you want – which, I warn you in advance, will be a LOT more frustrating when you’re both 23-year-old students and can’t afford to move out) but the snatched nights you’ll spend together in budget city hotels where you can only afford a packet of Tayto from the vending machine for dinner will be all the more fun and special because of it, and he won’t pressure or guilt you into sex. Vaginismus will be a challenge, but your relationship will become so much more than physical, and you’ll stay good friends even when you do break up.
2. You’re going to navigate dilator therapy by yourself, which allows you to independently take charge of getting over this condition – you’ll learn that your sexuality and your satisfaction depend on no one else. You’ll realise that when you want something, you work to GET IT. Some bonus learning content: Your vagina is amazing.
3. You’ll work with an incredible psychosexual therapist in the hospital you were born in, and through this therapy you’ll discover that your calling in life is to work in a similar field – you always had an inkling, but never knew these jobs existed; good old Catholic Ireland! – helping to impart the importance of knowledge and comfort around sex for people living with dysfunctions or difficulties. (It’ll take you a while to actually get there, but that’s a story for another day. Let’s just say… it’s a work in progress, and you’re scooping up some juicy skillz along the way.)
4. You’ll learn this life tip: Lube is fabulous. Lube is like your cool, hip, but loyal friend. Lube is life-changing.
Look. Vaginismus is never going to be fully, 100% gone, but you are going to develop an absolute barrage of tools and skills to deal with it whenever it dares to peek its nose into your life again. Your familiarity with your body and your capabilities will make it much easier to work with and get on top of as your life experience develops.
I know things right now feel frustrating, and hopeless, and tense, and sore, but you can do this. There is some lovely, pain-free pleasure-full sex at the end of that tunnel. I promise. Hang in there. (Or… let those dilators hang in there. Get it? Yup, you’re still just as witty and hilarious at 29.)
Love & lube,
You, in nearly 10 years. <3