"Clamping vagina, clamping vagina, clamping vagina."
Vaginismus is a condition in which involuntary muscle spasms cause the vagina to become impenetrable. Sex is impossible and often painful. The condition results from previous physical or emotional trauma, strong fear or anxiety about sex, or even self-reinforcing, learned associations of sex with pain. In some women, no cause can be found. As the extent and frequency of the muscle spasms can be variable and since the condition bears reporting, the exact number of women suffering from vaginismus is unknown.
Like a bear trap. Unfortunately, some bear traps aren’t made of steel, but living, feeling flesh. Not helping any dentata-fearers, am I? But that’s the way I would have described it. Despite gentle preparations and attention from my partner, a relaxing atmosphere and no-pressure expectations, once penetration was ready, I was not. The stinging and burning were unbearable and the discomfort would last for days after.
I was frustrated and in pain. I felt my relationship was lopsided since I couldn’t fulfill my partner’s desires in the way I was used to doing. Partially, this was because intercourse took an overly central role in our expression of love and desire.
I decided to think outside the box by getting back into it. Unlike many of life’s other problems, this one could be solved by masturbation.
After a pelvic examination by an obstetrician, her conclusion was partial. I displayed the unfortunate and involuntary pelvic floor lifting similar to vaginismus (like a cat up a tree), but other factors could have been involved in my experience of dyspareunia. One thing she did agree with – if I didn’t find another way, pain would likely reinforce my response. How could I coax the little cat to come back down to play?
Certain therapies for inappropriate vaginal contractions involve thorough massage and stretching: insertion techniques, dilators, and graduated stretching. Internal massage with an object, sound familiar? Now, you can either pay a doctor to do this, or you can do it yourself. Or better yet, you can ask your partner to do it.
I took it upon myself to find another way. I masturbated every day. I was lucky enough to find a site with a wide selection of toys and a positive community. Once I was more comfortable with myself, I contemplating making the bridge – involve my partner in play. This was essential to re-learn my body for us both and to learn that intercourse is only one act of many that can be defined as sexual. After eight months of pain, today, intercourse is possible. But we’ve discovered so many other things that are even more fun.