I think it would make sense to write my first proper post on the history of the whole thing, and how I came to be a 30 year old virgin with a very nervous vagina.
To cut a LOOOOOONG story short... I have no idea.
Many women develop vaginismus after an incident of sexual abuse, or a particularly traumatic child birth experience. This is called 'secondary vaginismus', meaning the woman was once able to have normal, lovely sex, but something changed and vaginismus set in. They generally know the reason (though we cant assume that they always do, of course).
I have 'primary vaginismus' which means I have never been able to have normal, lovely sex. Again, some women will know the cause of this but I am one of those that literally has no idea why this has happened. I can piece things together from the past that might have contributed to negative feelings and fear around sex, but there is not one big defining moment that I can pinpoint and say THATS WHAT CAUSED IT!
According to my therapist, women who have had strict religious upbringings, and anxious mothers, are more likely to develop vaginismus. I can tick both of these boxes, for sure. But my sister, who was brought up exactly the same way as me, doesn't have vaginismus and lost her virginity as a teenager, so this doesn't really give me definitive proof.
I tried using a tampon when I was 14, like everyone else. It wouldn't go in, but I wasn't COMPLETELY sure that I was putting it in the right place. Nobody ever really tells you where your vagina actually is, especially when you go to a Catholic school. As recommended by 'Shout magazine', every 1990's teenage girl's life-bible, I had a look at my genitals using a hand mirror. I remember recoiling in disgust- this did NOT look like what I was expecting to see. Given that my only frame of reference was the smooth and sleek vulva of Barbie, perhaps it was normal to feel confused. What IS all of this? And where is the hole? Isn't that the most important bit? If it's so bloody important why cant I SEE it? My shock and disgust at my own genitals led to me putting the hand mirror in the back of the wardrobe and denying that there was anything there. This meant no more tampon attempts, and DEFINITELY no more looking. And don't even get me starting on touching the damn thing! YEUCH!
When I started to have boyfriends, I never allowed them to attempt penetration. I just KNEW that it wouldn't work and I didn't want to risk the pain and embarrassment of them finding out that I had a defective vagina. Or possibly NO vagina. This was still a notion that floated round my head from time to time. Maybe I just didn't have one. And thats why the tampon wouldn't go in. Because there was nothing there...
Boyfriends were surprisingly supportive, and I made a habit of picking good ones, who didn't put pressure on me and were quite happy with lots of oral sex, instead of penetration. In some ways, a vaginismus-suffering girlfriend is a dream come true, because blow jobs are always on the cards.
I made it through my teenage years and early twenties coasting on complete avoidance with a pinch of denial. In some ways, I think I just assumed that everything would eventually sort itself out, and I would just wake up one day with the fear removed and a very accommodating vagina.
Clearly this did not happen, and eventually therapy became the next logical step. More on that to come... Please try to contain yourselves!
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