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Q&A: I think I have Vaginismus? What now?

Q&A: I think I have Vaginismus? What now?

Hi Sh! Team,

I find this really difficult and awkward to talk about but I'm guessing you are probably very used to it. I went through an almost 2-year long dry spell before meeting my boyfriend. When we first started having sex it felt uncomfortable and painful. He's definitely on the bigger side but I thought I would get used to it, however, instead, it has gotten worse. I don't think I have ever had this happen before. From what I have read it sounds like vaginismus.

I'm not quite sure what to do. I know I should probably see my GP about it but I've previously had bad experiences with NHS services, especially where mental health and other delicate matters are concerned. I've recently had a check-up as well as an STI test and there is nothing wrong physically.

Do you have any advice on how to work on this? I'm worried it'll get worse and don't know what to do. Many thanks, A.

Dear A,

Thanks for taking the courage to write in. I understand that medical professionals can sometimes be dismissive of mental health issues. Their first call is usually to keep people alive and fertile. But there are some good places out there; it can take a bit of shopping around till you find one.

Speak to a health professional about Vaginismus

Many hospitals have sexual health clinics, so you might want to try there.

Ask them if they have heard of vaginismus. It can be a way of gauging what they know and how they feel about psychosexual issues.

In the meantime, there are certain things you do on your own and with your fella to help. From your letter, it sounds like this could be an arousal or performance anxiety issue that has possibly led to a vaginismic response.

You haven’t said much about your relationship and how you feel about your two-year dry spell. It could be that you were lonely and finally meeting a lovely chap who you want to do saucy things with has put a lot of pressure on your bits. Or that, if he is a lot bigger than you’re used to, you and your vagina got a bit freaked by it.

Arousal is essential before penetration takes place

Either way, if you have penetrative sex when you aren’t fully aroused – so if your vagina isn’t lubricated, open and ready for sex – then it will hurt.

If you then carry on having sex, it could be that your Kegel muscles are spasming in a vaginismic way because they are protecting you from pain.

Have you talked to your boyfriend about this? If you are open about the fact that you have been sore, then you can agree to both take time touching, kissing and having a sexy time so you feel more relaxed and ready for penetration. And some sessions where penetration is completely off the table could help you have fun without worrying about it.

Dilators for Vaginismus

If you are aroused but still sore during sex, you can try inserting fingers, vibrators, dildos or Sh!’s marvellous vaginismus kit.

Four lilac vaginal dilators in progressive size. Backgropund: 2 white candle holders, a green plant in pa;e pink bioth ana white candle in the shape of a curvy woman

Start with something smaller and build up to insertables that are the same size as your boyfriend. Depending on how difficult you find this – it may make you feel anxious – will dictate how long to do this. You may insert the smaller toy a few times a week for a few weeks and build up. Or it might be that, away from the pressure of sex, bigger devices go in easily.

During sex, even if you’re aroused, it’s hard to tell if a vagina is open or not without putting something up it. If you insert the device, or fingers, just before you have sex – this can even be a fun part of foreplay – you will know if you are ready. If it feels tight but goes in without pain, your vagina will settle to accommodate the insertable. Otherwise, you could try a smaller one and build up.

Masturbating while having sex can help you and your vagina to stay relaxed. Also, you might both find different positions that cause less pain. It isn’t clear exactly how big your boyfriend is but if you find that you can’t take his whole length, he could insert the tip and then either of you could masturbate the shaft.

I wish you lots of luck!

Best wishes,

Sarah Berry


Read more advice on vaginismus and painful sex here.

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