“Does my vagina feel like there’s a cement wall there or something?”
This is the question I posed to my boyfriend this morning, perfect to file under Sweet Nothings To Use On Bae Before Eight AM.
Way back when I first started talking about my difficulty having sex, I received a few comments here and there suggesting that I have vaginismus. For those of you who don’t know what vaginismus is, it’s a condition in which, upon penetration, the vaginal walls freak the fuck out and tighten. This makes vaginal penetration incredibly painful or damn near impossible. It also kind of sounds like a type of dinosaur, but that’s not important.
Honestly, I brushed off the idea of an a sexual dysfunction being the cause of my penetration woes. First of all, vaginismus isn’t only about sex–people with this condition also have trouble shoving a tampon up their cooch, too. As somebody who has been doing that lovely task since the age of fifteen, and ruining the environment every step of the way (sorry), I figured that that killed any chances of having vaginismus. I was a lot more comfortable with the idea that I just needed some wine and sexy music to let the magic of penetrative sex happen. But the more I research vaginismus, I grow less and less sure that that’ll be the case for me.
So here’s a little more information about vaginismus: There are physical reasons as to why someone might have it, like a yeast infection, a UTI, or physical trauma. But most symptoms seem to be psychological, including generalized anxiety, stress, a negative stance on sexual stimulation, conservative upbringing, negative body image, misconceptions about sex, and a basic fear that penetration is going to hurt like a mother. People with vaginismus are also twice as likely to have a history of childhood sexual abuse or “interference.”
I definitely don’t check off all these boxes, like having a conservative upbringing or a ranging yeast infection–but a few of these risk factors sound familiar. When I went to the gynecologist for the first time back in late 2011, the poor woman could barely stick one finger up my vag. When she tried to go for two, I literally yelped, “Er, nope!” A couple months later, on the recommendation of a friend, I had a fancy Babeland vibrator sent to my dorm. To be frank, I tried to use it–WITH PLENTY OF LUBE–and my vagina was like, “Nah, sis.” Fast forward to the present, and I’m still having trouble getting anything that isn’t courtesy of Tampax up my cooch. I literally can’t even finger myself without getting all anxious, so it just doesn’t happen. Maybe I’m able to compartmentalize menstrual needs but not sexy needs.
Good news among all this vaginal despair: Vaginismus is highly treatable through therapy and–for some–practicing Kegel exercises while inserting fingers into yourself so that the vag can get used to relaxing around objects penetrating it. But as much as I’m a believer in therapy, I’m a little skeptical as to whether talking it out with someone is going to supply my vagina with the chill it needs. Either way, it seems like a better move than hoping that a inebriated state of mind will solve all my sexual hang ups.
I don’t want to self-diagnose myself, so if my ADHD will allow it, I’ll try to make an appointment for the gyno to get an official opinion. Until then, I suppose I should try to breach this vagina news with the only person I actually want near it. It’s not like my vagina is broken. It’s just neurotic. I have a neurotic vagina. Go figure.