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Vaginismus: Sexual Shame to Pleasure

Growing up, I was never comfortable with my body. I think everyone feels this way at some point throughout their life. Bombarded with the constant unattainable standards of society, we are constantly judging and comparing ourselves to other people. As a bisexual woman, I have also faced my fair share of outsider judgment. Even in the current times where we claim to be a generation of acceptance, biphobia is alive and well with the words greedy and confused being thrown around a lot. I think the worst part for me has been the sexual suggestions that have come with it. Being bisexual means I’m a slag and I am only bi because I want sex. People calling on me for a threesome like I’m some readily available sex toy. This started before I was even 16.

vagina

I will never forget the day that my fear of things not being normal was confirmed. Whilst on a family holiday to the beach I came on my period. Devastated I would not be able to go swimming, my mum turned to me saying “not to worry I have tampons in the room”. I had never felt brave enough to use a tampon, but I figured my sister uses them all the time so what’s the big deal, right?


Wrong. What was a normal experience for most women felt like an excruciating burning as though I was trying to fit a large razor into the eye of a needle. After a doctor examined me, I heard a word I had never heard before. “You have Vaginismus”.


“Vaginismus? what’s that?”


Essentially, Vaginismus is the involuntary tightening of the vaginal muscles near the entrance of the vagina. Although this condition can be caused by other underlying medical conditions, in most cases it is a psychological fear of having something enter the vagina. This can be triggered by a fear that your vagina is too small, the belief that sex is shameful or from a traumatic sexual experience.

I never even enjoyed sex. It always felt more for them than for me. But now knowing I could not have it even if I wanted to, in a world where I had been conditioned to believe that my body was only good for sex, I felt broken.


After the diagnosis

“With the help of a partner you can train yourself to relax your muscles”

As a single girl who had just left home and let’s be honest, had lost my trust in men, this was not an option. I needed to reclaim my body on my own. The doctors gave me this kit of different sized dilators starting from the size of a small finger up to 6 inches long. Basically, I got prescribed some dildos off the NHS. When using these I had to remain calm and really listen to my body trusting that it wanted to get better.


Sex is meant to be some magical experience that makes your heart race and legs shake. At least that’s what I had heard from my friends.

Maybe if my first time had given me the respect I deserved.

Maybe if sex was more openly talked about.

Maybe if a boy who said he loved me hadn’t left me for a girl who could give him what I couldn’t.

Maybe if my sex education had taught me more than what a tampon looks like in water.

Maybe if I had a different relationship with my sexuality things would be different.

But it isn’t. This is the case for so many other women


Did you know 1 in 10 women experience pain during sex?

Settling down for an evening of binge-watching Sex Education, I found myself in tears. There on the screen was a girl who had the same condition as me. I had never heard anyone talk about vaginismus let alone a whole storyline in a popular television show. I finally felt like I wasn’t so different after all.


Discovering pleasure


Taking this time away from sex, I had opportunity to discover there were ways to feel good that did not require penetration. Statistically, women orgasm 65% of the time whilst for men its 95%. Most female pleasure is brought about by the stimulation of the clitoris and many struggle to orgasm from penetration alone. This study showed that women who orgasmed more were those who asked for what they wanted. When I finally felt comfortable to trust someone again, instead of going through the motions to please my sexual partner, I had learnt to hold my own pleasure to the same level of importance.


In the end, I still have a long way to go to feel completely comfortable with my body. I still face the fetishization of bisexual women but now I face it with the knowledge that I am worth more than the sexual favours I can provide. As we go along our journey to a healthy sex life, we should try to be sex positive, understanding with our sexual partners and continue to prioritise pleasure. I would never want anyone to feel the same shame about sex and their body as I have in my past. So, if you are experiencing anything mentioned above, know you’re not alone. You can reclaim your sexuality.

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