At BellaNaija we provide a hub for the discussion of pertinent issues in society. We believe that our readers always have a stories to share and we warmly encourage this. There’s always room for learning, and we hope that we can touch lives positively through this platform. In this vein, one of our readers sent in this story about her inability to have sex until two months after her marriage. *Andrea‘s fun, educating and interesting article is very informative and we encourage all our readers to read it, share it with their friends.
If you’ve never heard of the word ‘vaginismus’, then here’s a chance to learn about it.
I am writing this based on my experience and the lack of information out there about vaginismus.
Vaginismus is a condition where there is involuntary tightness of the vagina during attempted intercourse. I heard vaginismus can also occur during sex, thereby ‘trapping’ the penis in the vagina (did I hear you say Magun?)
Vaginismus can either be psychological or non-psychological. This is my story of non-psychological vaginismus.
I got married a virgin, I was 26 years old. I was a well-adjusted regular babe. I just decided while I was at UNILAG that I would wait till I was married before having sex. Two boyfriends broke up with me because I refused to have pre-marital sex. I don’t blame them; almost everyone seemed to be doing it. Infact, it was the cool thing to do.
I met my husband *Dee two years after NYSC. While he was still ‘toasting’ me, I let him know sex, as well as oral sex was off the table. He was cool with that as he had sown his wild oats. He was more worried or rather curious about me being okay with the fact that he wasn’t a virgin. He always felt that one day, I would break up with him and go in search of my knight and shiny virgin. I had no issues with that.
We got engaged after dating for like 18 months. Truthfully, it was more difficult abstaining after we were engaged, but we made it.
While packing my bags for the honeymoon, I included two tubes of KY jelly. So off we went, from the reception to airport to Dubai. We were very tired when we got to the hotel at Dubai. We slept, showered, slept went for breakfast and slept some more (what can I say, Naija weddings are energy drainers). All this while, I was excited. Finally! Dee kept telling me to calm down. Everything I said and saw was a double entendre, with reference to sex. Even pouring coffee seemed sexual. I was high on the anticipation of sex.
So we tried the first time, he couldn’t penetrate. The pain was excruciating. He barely got the ‘tip’ in. He said I should relax, we tried again no such luck. We didn’t even need the KY, as Dee was pushing all the right buttons but we still applied it. After a couple of tries, we decided to take a break. I started to panic, what if my vagina had atrophied due to lack of use. I went to the reception and paid for Wi-Fi. Google became my friend. I found a couple of articles and blogposts on the issue. I tried the suggestions in these articles but none worked.
I should point out that I had been using tampons for about 5 years, so it wasn’t a fear of having things inserted into my VaJayJay (forgive me, Grey’s Anatomy fans will understand why I called my vagina VJJ)
To cut a very long story short, we came back from a 10-day honeymoon with my cherry still intact. I was so pissed, after all the waiting. Though we enjoyed our stay in Dubai, the inability to have sex put a damper on the holiday. I couldn’t even have a proper honeymoon. I had suggested to Dee that if I took some tranquilizers or was mega-drunk on alcohol and passed out, he could just do the needful. He calmly asked me if I was asking him to rape me. That put an end to that line of thought.
I bought applicators for depositing lubricant in my VJJ. I bought numbing cream, I bought lots of KY jelly, Durex lubricant as well as silicone based lubricant. No effect.
We tried lots of times; I even took some alcohol to help me relax a little more, but no such luck. We were both frustrated. I found only one article at that time regarding being married and not being able to have sex. It was on a forum and an Indian lady had the same issue, but she didn’t get any help. It was also a very old thread.
I went to see my gynaecologist. She diagnosed vaginismus. She told me that sex was a good thing, and I shouldn’t be ashamed or feel dirty about sex, that because I felt sex was a dirty and sinful activity, my subconscious was causing me to tighten my vaginal muscles involuntarily. In my head, I was like WTF? I didn’t know I had so much self-control. I calmly told her I didn’t see sex as a dirty/sinful activity and that she had to right to say such to me without a psychological evaluation. That was the last time I went to that hospital.
I confided in a friend about my not being able to have sex. My friend promptly said she believed I must have done coded aristo runs while we were in school and had gone for a vaginal tightening surgery and maybe the doctor had over-tightened my VJJ. Insert blank stare. I started wondering how this babe was still my friend.
I saw two other doctors. All of them told me to relax. Doctors like to trivialize our worries – very very annoying trait. I decided I was on my own in this quest to have sex.
After some more research online, I found a website www.vaginismus.com that specialized in do-it-yourself treatments for vaginismus. (They encouraged ladies to see a psychologist if they felt the vaginismus was a symptom of underlying issues). In the products category, I read a lot of stories and testimonies of women who had used their products successfully. A woman hadn’t been able to have sex for more than 10 years after marriage. Her doctors always told her to relax. Everyone told her she was frigid. She even saw a psychologist, who said she didn’t have any underlying issues that could cause vaginismus. This made me very determined, ten years without sex was crazy!
The website sold medical grade vaginal dilators to help widen the vagina. These dilators come in 4 different sizes. The biggest size is about the same size as a normal-size erect penis. They had instructions on how to use them, from the smallest dilators to the largest. I immediately ordered the dilators. I took my time using them, and in 5 days, was ready for the big daddy size. By the seventh day and 2 tubes of KY Jelly later, I was able to insert the biggest one comfortably.
We tried to have sex again, and two months after getting married, we finally had sex. Yes, you read that right, we didn’t have penetrative sex for a whole two months after marriage.
Well, the story didn’t end there. We had sex the day after also. Sometime during the night, I woke up to pee and felt PAIN! I also had blood in my urine. I went to the hospital in the morning; turned out I had Cystisis. Cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder, and can be caused by sex. The doctor wasn’t surprised to hear I just started having sex. He said my form of Cystisis is also referred to as Honeymoon Cystisis as a lot of women on honeymoon develop it, especially if they haven’t been sexually active for a while. (Cystisis can also be caused by bacteria, trauma etc and can cause kidney infection if left untreated). He prescribed antibiotics and some other drugs for 10 days and told me to abstain from sex.
A week after I completed the dosage, we tried to have sex again. Turns out my VJJ had gone on holiday. I used the two biggest dilators for one day and we were able to “do-the-do”.
Dee was very supportive during this period, as I was very upset and always worrying. I also felt grossly inadequate and started worrying that he would cheat on me. We had a long talk and we both aired our worries. He was actually feeling rejected, like something about him was turning me off and making me not want to have sex with him. He thought I had psychological vaginismus triggered by him.
Aside the vaginismus, I also believe I have a small vagina. My doctor told me there is no such thing as a small vagina, as vaginas are made to accommodate a baby’s head. I told him I was very sure I had a small vagina because if I didn’t have sex for about one or two weeks, my vagina always felt narrower, and sex was always uncomfortable that first time, most especially after my period. I was looking forward to a vaginal birth; I thought the baby’s head would help widen my VJJ. He dismissed it with a laugh and said I must have being trying to diagnose myself with Google.
Four years after we got married, I had our first child. Labour was difficult and terribly painful. It was the worst pain ever. After dilating to 10cm, the baby did not come out despite my grunts, leg positioning and chin down. At some point, the midwife told me to squat, as it makes the birth canal wider. Thankfully, the same gynaecologist that dismissed my comments about a small vagina was the one on-call. I had an episiotomy (a cut in the vulval area/perineum to accommodate the head of the baby). The baby still didn’t come out. A vacuum pump was used, as well as a nurse practically doing a hand-stand on my tummy to push baby out. In the end, I had a tear in my perineum, as well as a tear in the vaginal wall. My baby was just 2.8 kg. The doctor actually came to the room while I was recuperating to apologize and tell me he believed I had a narrow birth canal (vagina). I told him if we were in a foreign country, I would probably sue him for dismissing my complaints and causing me so much pain.
Note that I was sexually active throughout pregnancy and had even had sex the day before I went into labour (I heard semen triggers labour, myth?).
It took about 45 minutes to stitch my vaginal wall, episiotomy and tear. I started panicking. The stitches would definitely take a while to heal, what if it made me narrower…Questions! I spoke with the Gynae, he listened this time.
At my 4 week post-partum check, he inserted a speculum (that evil looking metal instrument used to view the cervix among other things) with tons of lube into my VJJ. It was quite painful, but he said it was necessary. He told me to resume using my dilators. At my 6 week check, he passed a speculum easily.
I resumed sex 3 months post-partum with no discomfort.
This is my story on vaginismus (which could have been compounded by a narrow vagina). The good thing about not being able to have penetrative sex was that we were able to explore our bodies extensively, and truly there’s so many ways of having a wonderful sexual experience.
Please, if your vaginismus is a symptom of underlying issues like rape, sexual molestation, lack of trust, please see a psychologist asides seeing your gynaecologist.
*Not their real names.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Photographerlondon