Saturday, 31 March 2012

How does Vaginismus feel?

Well hi there! Come and pull up a chair, join me on the porch why doncha? Have some lemonade; it’s made with real lemons you know. Come on; settle down, that’s it. How’s your Dennis these days? Still got that dodgy ticker?... Well, as I’ve been sat here, I’ve just been thinking. It’s a funny thing, memory, isn’t it? When I first started trying to figure out what was wrong with me way back when, I hadn’t heard of vaginismus and had no idea what was going on with my body. Now, having got so far on the journey to “recovery”, I sometimes forget what it felt like not to know what in the heckins was happening to me.

If you find yourself where I was then, experiencing difficulties and not knowing what’s going on or why, you might want to know how vaginismus feels to see if it is something that resonates with you. Today then, I present to you my guide to how V feels. I’m not saying this is exactly how V is to everyone, but just personally how I have experienced it*, there will of course be variations from woman to woman.

This being a *whisper itsexual disfunction, it has to be put in terms of a sexual situation so buckle up; things are about to get steamy, yo…..

Picture the scene: You’ve managed to insinuate yourself into the solo company of some delightful creature who likes Murakami novels and rides an up-cycled bike to the local farmers market for his weekly shop. He’s got a delightfully mischievous smile and come-to-bed-eyes and is most DEFINITELY looking at you in a very promising way indeed. Together you’ve polished off a very good bottle of wine from Tesco (when I say very good, I mean drinkable for under a fiver) and finished discussing that TOTES EMOTIVE film you just watched together at the local picture house before popping into his for a night cap. His housemates are all out. Things are getting interesting. You both DEFINITELY want it. Then, this happens:

  1. To begin with, everything feels fine. Good, even, if Mr up-cycle knows what he’s about. Vaginismus itself doesn’t prevent you being turned on, and the physical process of the body becoming aroused is the same, so for this part things are pretty exciting. V doesn’t prevent orgasm either.
  2. You’re approaching the main event… but when any sort of penetration is attempted, things start to go wrong. First off, it hurts. You try to breathe through it. Then it really, really hurts. It feels a bit like you’re being ripped in half, right down the middle. This is due partly to the psychological side of V kicking in (of which, more later), but it’s primarily because the muscles physically clamp themselves closed. They are not keen on that weird looking thing coming towards them and trying to force its way in, in what is - quite frankly – a very pushy manner. The muscles, instead of relaxing and widening, start to spasm, which forms a sort of physical barrier. It’s the pushing against this wall of muscle that hurts, along with the actual spasms themselves.
  3. It feels impossible, like there’s no physical way on earth anything is going in there, let alone anything THAT size, you horrible brute! That can’t even be NORMAL can it?! That thing is like a missile or something! The pain makes sense, you think, because obviously it’s going to hurt if you’re trying to push something fairly sizeable through an impossible barrier.
  4. Finally comes panic – waves of butterflies and sometimes frantic tears, and then the indisputable need to be right out of that situation. RIGHT out. At this point, it is the gentleman’s duty to cuddle and reassure. You hear me gents? PUT THAT THING AWAY AND CUDDLE AND REASSURE!
  5. You don’t necessarily know what’s happening or why. Before I started therapy I didn’t know that the muscles were spasming, all I was aware of was the pain and the feeling of physical impossibility. I thought that perhaps there was something physically wrong with my anatomy, that perhaps I didn’t have a fully formed vagina, or maybe I had an intersex condition I wasn’t aware of. I didn’t know why it was happening or what to do about it.

Crucially with vaginismus, there is nothing physically wrong with the vagina. Everything anatomically is the same** Vaginismus is, at heart, a psychological issue. Something - of which you may or may not be conscious – is telling your body that whatever is going on down there is very wrong and needs to be blocked, so your body reacts as above to prevent it. This could be due to an experienced trauma such as sexual violence, or there could be absolutely no obvious reason for it at all, as in my case. Sometimes shit just happens.

Through therapy and the use of vaginal dilators, you can train your body to stop reacting in this way. It is a totally treatable condition, and not one to be ashamed of or to be blamed for. If Mr up-cycle is worth his salt, and realises how flipping well amazing you are he will be there on the journey with you, but if not then obviously he is a massive dick and can cram his pretentious art house films right up his a-hole. And who does their weekly shop at a farmers market it anyway?!

*Please see my disclaimer page - I am not a medical doctor, my understanding of vaginismus is personal and not something I have been medically trained in. Also, I am straight, so I’m going to be talking about this from a straight woman’s perspective, but v obviously affects lesbian as well as straight and naturally therefore can affect someone who enjoys penetrative sex, whether that be with a man or with "sex aids".

** There may of course be other conditions which accompany vaginismus, and also of course there is the possibility that the vagina may in some way be slightly different. I'm literally at this point just describing vaginismus

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