Hi folks,

I need some help.  I have vaginismus, but I don't think my case is *too* severe.  I've always been able to have sex; it's just very painful.  (The first time was off-the-charts painful, but that was not surprisingly before I knew about this).  I first had sex with my then-fiance about 6 years ago.  We're now married, and we've never really had sex more than maybe twice a month since it hurts me.  Lately this has dwindled to practically nothing.  And we do not do oral (since neither of us likes receiving…guess that means we're both bad at it?  lol) or anything else.  He doesn't even like kissing. 🙁  He pretty much wants vaginal sex or nothing at all.  And so it's been nothing at all.

So, I recently inadverdently found out that he was…fooling around with a female friend of his.  Not sex, but it was probably headed that way.  He also had a full-on affair several years ago.  So obviously, we can't ignore this any more.  For the past four years, I've been working on-and-off with a set of dilators.  I can insert all of them, although the biggest one always hurts and takes some time to get in (maybe 1 minute or so of start-and-stop) and it doesn't seem to be improving.  (My husband's penis is about the same size as this biggest dilator).  The smaller three dilators are pretty easy to insert, with no or very little pain, and I also use a menstrual cup no problem.  But I feel like I can't "get over the hump" to the point where penetration with a large object isn't painful.  I don't know what else to do.  Does anyone have any ideas?  To be more specific, when we do have sex he has to come in very slowly (a little at a time), then he has to stay still while the pain subsides.  Then when he thrusts I feel a stabbing pain very high in my vagina, which he swears is not him hitting my cervix (I don't know what causes this pain, it's probably not related to vaginismus, but I figured I'd better mention it). 

One more thing: we have been talking about what to do if I can't overcome this.  Divorce is the absolute, bottom of the line, last resort.  Other potential options are him being allowed to seek sex outside the marriage, or bringing in another girl with us so that we can have a sexual experience where he can penetrate someone, and I don't have to be penetrated. (I have never tried anything like that and am not sure I'm ok with it, but I guess it's on the table at this point).  Obviously the best thing would be to kick this problem to the curb, but I feel so hopeless.  It seems like continuing to work with the big dilator is getting me nowhere. 🙁

Sorry for the long disjointed post; as you might imagine I'm upset.  Thanks in advance for any thoughts or advice.

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13 Responses to can’t conquer vaginismus

  1. Eso99 says:

    (This is going to get long…)

    I know you’re asking for physical help with vaginismus, which I will get to in a minute, but first of all…there is a lot here that disturbs me, for your sake. I also have vaginismus (unresolved at the moment) and your description here is reminding me of what my ex-boyfriend put me through.

    Right off the bat, the fact that he cheated on you because (I’m assuming) your sex life has dwindled because of the vaginismus is a huge red flag. You also infer several times about what “he wants”. Sex isn’t supposed to be a one way road – just because your vagina isn’t cooperating at the moment doesn’t mean that he should get whatever he wants. My ex did this to me – emotionally abused me, tore me down, made me feel like it was all my fault and it was my JOB to do whatever he needed, just because my body wasn’t allowing sex – he followed this up by cheating on me, and blabbing about my “issues” to the other person. It isn’t right and it’s abusive.

    This also goes for making your marriage an open one. Doing this when you’re clearly apprehensive about it (if not downright against it) isn’t going to end well. Again, just because you have vaginismus does NOT mean you have to give in to demands like this – it does not “have to be on the table.” You do NOT owe him anything. I realize you have said that divorce is a last resort – have you considered marriage counseling? It might help him realize what you’re going through, or help you get a better frame of mind as for what to do.

    As for the physical aspect…obviously I haven’t been able to solve my own problem, but I believe a lot of that to be lack of trying out of indifference (at the moment). That being said, one of the first things I had to do, and let my current boyfriend know, was that I had to avoid any sort of activity that was going to trigger a pain reflex until I was ready for it. For me, that was attempting sex at all – it may be the same for you. This was because the more I attempted it out of desperation, the more frustration I felt at the pain and the more disheartened I got. Things got better once I took that pressure off of myself and worked at a slower pace.

  2. Eso99 says:

    Is there a large gap between the final dilator and the one before it? I got some good advice on here to make myself a few “in between” dilators out of candles or veggies to sort of step my way up into the next size. As for the sharp pain…it could be pain from vaginismus, especially if he’s going too fast/hard/etc. I wouldn’t be surprised though if he WAS hitting your cervix, as that stabbing pain is how I’ve always heard of it referred to (maybe someone else has a better idea?). He can swear all he wants, but unless he’s got a camera down there…

    Hopefully someone else will comment who has successfully handled the pain and will have better advice for you on that part. One last thing though: prior to ending the relationship with my ex, NOTHING was getting into my vagina – not a finger, tampon, not even a q-tip. After we split, I saw my doctor a few months later for an attempt at a pelvic exam and what do you know – the speculum slid right in, no pain or anything. When I asked her about it, she said that (in her opinion) it was possible my body knew deep down that what my ex was doing was wrong long before I did, and was closing itself off to protect me. Might be a little hokey for some to believe, but I do actually think that’s what was happening. I’m still not able to have sex, but my boyfriend can get around down there with other things without me screaming in pain or crying!

    Lastly, I send internet *hugs*, because I know how bad vaginismus sucks.

  3. Sosoma says:

    Thank you so much for your very thoughtful post. I LOVE the idea of using an “in-between”-sized object, so I am definitely going to try that; thanks. Your story about your pelvic exam is very interesting and your assessment seems plausible to me. For some reason (I really don’t know why), when I was a kid/teenager I thought that having an unwanted pregnancy was the absolute worst thing you could do, and I’ve often thought that my vaginismus was a subconscious attempt by my body to prevent such a thing. Who knows though…

    I think I am going to go to counseling too. I don’t know if my husband will go, but if not I’ll go alone.

    And, the mental image of a camera strapped to his penis during sex made me giggle. 🙂

  4. Hteall says:

    1: Please read youarenotcrazy.com. I’m reading between the lines, but the way you’re talking about this, and your husband’s self-denial of sexual intimacy with you because he wants PIV or nothing, suggests that your relationship may be toxic — and if your subconscious is picking up on this, then that’s going to be the biggest hurdle to getting over the vaginismus.

    2: Your husband needs to do two things. First, he needs to earn your trust. Secondly, and linked, he needs to get over this idea that only PIV will do. If he has aversions to doing certain things, then he needs to be working on those aversions. (In some relationships, this wouldn’t need to be an issue; but he married you, he presumably vowed to love and support you, and this means that just as you are working on the vaginismus, he needs to work on taking the pressure off you. Because stress and pressure to “perform” is not going to make it any easier for you to relax, feel safe, feel secure, and feel like you can stop everything and he’ll put on his big-boy pants and hug and cuddle you and say, “It’s okay, honey. I love you and we’ll figure out something else that doesn’t hurt you.”)

    So either he can use his own hands, or he can let you do handjobs and/or learn how to do oral. (If he doesn’t like the idea that you are the one primarily in control over his orgasm in such cases… Honestly, divorce is probably your best option if you are not a naturally polyamorous person. Polyamory is great for some people, but it is hard work and takes a lot of talking about boundaries. I don’t see that your husband has done the work here that would make it likely that allowing him a secondary partner would do anything but destroy your self-esteem.)

    And he can figure out how to use his fingers to give you pleasure, even if he’s sensitive to tastes. Or he can figure out how to use a vibrator, even if he’s got issues about textures!

    3: Have you had an examination by a Pelvic Pain Specialist? Have they checked to make sure that you don’t have any hymen left that might be getting in the way? Are you using lube? Are you using paraben-free, glycerin-free lube? (Both can be irritating!)

    4: To get over a reflex of the vaginal muscles… Ya gotta stop doing things that trigger the reflex. In particular, the PIV needs to stop till it’s down to mere discomfort. (And his penis is not as sensitive as a fingertip. He could totally be hitting your cervix. Or he could be “bottoming out” at the end of your vagina (which is normally just beyond the cervix); the vagina relaxes and elongates when you’re aroused — but are you aroused when you’re trying to have PIV?)

    5: Your husband is being very unsupportive. I’m very upset with him. I agree that some form of counseling may be useful. (But go read youarenotcrazy.com; my sire was an emotionally abusive person, and frankly, if you’ve got one of those… Leave. As quickly as possible. Counseling won’t help a hardcore emotional abuser, because they feel they’re entitled to have their way 100% of the time and anything else is just another tool to twist into getting their way. I got married at 19 (to a wonderful guy), and my mom finally got a divorce and I cheered.)

    6: Listen to oceansrose! Also about the candles. You can carve them to any size you want, really. Use unscented ones, of course!

    *offers lots of hugs* Good luck!

  5. Sosoma says:

    Thank you! I did go to youarenotcrazy.com, but I don’t think he really matches the descriptions. However, I bookmarked the site and am going to return to it if our relationship takes a turn for the worse.

    We had a long talk after I confronted him about the cheating and I think some good things came out of it. He seemed genuinely surprised and concerned when I said that I was unhappy in the marriage (for reasons other than the cheating), and we talked about why that was, and he agreed my concerns were valid and we talked about some ways to improve things.

    It wasn’t really clear from my post, but he hasn’t ever demanded sex; he used to initiate it, but I usually turned him down due to my fear of pain, and eventually he pretty much stopped trying. He actually does like giving oral, but I really hate receiving it (to me it just feels cold and wet and not at all arousing, and I’m afraid of getting an infection, which is probably stupid). And I also had a previous boyfriend who made rude comments after he gave me oral once, which gave it a bad association to me. But maybe my husband and I can work on it and find a way to make it better for me. Or maybe more manual or toys, like you suggested. Likewise, I don’t mind doing oral on him, but I’m not very good at it, and he says it feels nice but it’s not really his favorite thing. *sigh* Aren’t we a pair?

    Thanks again for your help.

  6. Hteall says:

    I’m glad that the relationship isn’t as dire as I’d feared. I’m glad you have a resource to look at for, well, a line in the sand for what’s dire and what’s something that can be worked on. O:>

    I hope that y’all were able to get some improvement-ideas to try! Crossing fingers that they’ll help!

    I’m kind of “meh” on receiving oral myself, actually. I can get off on it, but I don’t ever ask for it, and it did take a bit of getting used to! If you can think of some things to try to make it more pleasant for you (and decent oral hygiene should minimize the risk of infection; a bit of plastic wrap as a dental dam would be really good for that, too), it might be worth trying — but don’t force yourself to do anything sexual that makes you go, “Ugh, no.” A “meh,” you might push a little; an “ugh, no” is no, if you see what I mean? And grrr, rude ex-boyfriends. Feh!

    For giving oral… If he doesn’t mind it, and if you don’t mind giving it, maybe try practicing? Most good oral technique is learned, not instinctive! (Probably all of it, really. Plus, it’s individual; what one person likes, another may be “meh” on.) If he didn’t climax from it, he could finish himself while you held him (ask whether fondling his testicles, thighs, whatever would be distracting or helpful in such a case) — it’s a form of intimacy, which some people may find even more intimate than PIV!

    Crossing fingers for y’all!!!!

  7. Xxxmsk says:

    I’m sure no one on here really understands what you and your husband have together…BUT cheating is never okay. You lose a sense of trust in the relationship. I’m sure if he had erectile issues he would NOT be okay with you going out and getting it elsewhere.

    I do agree that you two need to work on this issue before anything else.

  8. Sosoma says:

    Thank you; you are right. It is going to take some time to get things back on track.

  9. Etafornia says:

    i’m not going to address the physical sides, because i havent really experienced what you have. i have a tough band of skin at the 6 o’clock area of my vaginal opening that is occasionally irritable, but lube and patience overcome that. (also dealing with someone with occasional ED problems…that’s a whole nother post.)

    but as far as opening up the marriage…i’ve gone the polyamorous route. its not always easy. you have to go into it with the mindset of “we’re a team, but adding extra players isnt going to dissolve the core team”. it doesnt seem like you’re there, it sounds more like him saying “well if you wont give me the PIV sex i want, i want to bring in a ringer who will”.

    that’s totally wrong, and ignoring the facts, which are that while you may WANT the PIV sex, your BODY isnt ok with how he’s doing it. are you spending enough non-sexual fun affectionate time together? when it is time for the sexytimes, are you able to get in adequate foreplay for YOUR BODY? (for many males, just seeing the person they’re about to have sex with getting naked is enough to get them ready, and most females need a little more time than that [if not a LOT more time than that] to be ready for penatrative sex.)

    and in my very opinionated viewpoint, you may have a need as a couple to get to some sexual counselling definitely, marriage counselling most probably. he needs to learn that your body needs more than a “howdy-do!” to get ready for penetration, AND that his needs are NOT the only priority here.

    hell, TheEngineer went from a woman wanting it 2-3 times a DAY to offering to have it 2-3 times a MONTH. yay menopause and an escaping libido. i’m tyring to train it otherwise, but its a work in process. good luck, hon.

  10. Sosoma says:

    Thanks for your reply; I think we do need more foreplay for sure. And I agree about the counseling too. Good luck to you too!

  11. 29dWoman says:

    It’s not your responsibility to keep someone from cheating-only they make that decision, and any attempt to make you feel at all responsible or somehow obligated to sexually please him at your own expense is him trying to avoid blame and not have to deal with the guilt.

  12. Sosoma says:

    You’re right; thank you for saying that so plainly.

  13. Wood says:

    Eso99 & Hteall, your posts point all the responsibility at the man for having the compassion and understanding to deal with the issue of vaginismus. What you are both overlooking is the fact that a marriage works both ways. Compassion and understanding only go so far. What is in it for the husband? You would have him suffering endlessly without any relief of his tension since you don’t offer up any alternatives for him. Yes, I am a man.

    The responsibility for curing the problem is at least 1/2 HER reasonability, you can’t just lump it entirely on him. Past the physical there is the psychological conditions and a lot of that is brought on by overly strict religious views foisted on the female child growing up, the pressure to NOT have sex, the feelings that her body is NOT sexy and the sometimes repressed trauma. If it is trauma she should have been open and honest early on in the dating stages of the relationship about that as it will severely affect future sexual partners.

    So what I don’t see in your replies is a lot of ideas of how to make sure he at least gets some physical pleasure out of a wife/girlfriend who can’t perform basic sexual functions. Yes there are a few other options and anyone facing the vaginismus monster should be open and honest about the other options and not just shut down on her partner because she needs to consider his feelings too. Yes Eso99 & Hteall, MEN DO HAVE FEELINGS.

    For long term marriages to last asking a guy to be faithful to one and one only is asking a lot, especially when his basic needs aren’t being met. Asking a guy to get married and be celibate is the height of hypocrisy. If I wanted to be celibate I wouldn’t bother getting married. No ‘marriage tax’ (U.S. thing), no having to share a bed with someone whom I can’t touch when I become aroused lying next to her, no having to put the seat down. When I guy gets married he is automatically signing on for compromises and asking him to totally give up his non-self gratification sexual life is a pretty steep price to ask. So from the other point of view if you have vaginismus then please have some compassion for the man in your life and either figure out how to get the base problem fixed or be willing to compromise in other ways.

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