5.08.2012

Back in the Saddle.

I have been having pain during sex, which has led to my husband and I not being intimate very much. I avoid it for fear of pain, and he worries about hurting me. The problem is me sort of involuntarily clenching those muscles and being unable to relax. I can go from being quite relaxed to totally tense in the space of a couple seconds if sex is going to happen. He knows that this is not something I'm doing consciously, and not something that I want to do, but it is driving a bit of a wedge between us, physically. I see there are 'dilator kits' for vaginismus, which seems like a good idea, but kind of costly.

via Hottie, Hott, Hot - by Alexander Tikhomirov

I don't own any sex toys, but since my husband raised this as an issue earlier this month, I have mentioned several times that I am totally open to working on becoming comfortable with sex again. I do want to tackle this but feel a bit lost as a person who just doesn't talk about sex. Help!

Firstly, I want you to go see your gynecologist and talk about this with her/him. They will be able to determine whether the pain you are having during sex is actually primary vaginismus (which is a psychological issue) or something else. Sometimes I find (as a mid-level hypochondriac) that just having someone explain the physiology of something to me really helps.

Also, I think you should sit down and take a little personal inventory: When was the last time you had sex? When was the last time you enjoyed sex? When was the last time your husband made you come and vice versa? What about those times was good and how can you work your way back there together?

Regarding your idea about the dilator kit, that seems to be a helpful thing for women who have this issue because of something physical. If you and your doctor determine that this is a psychological rather than physical problem, it seems to me that if you're going to put something in there, it should be something that feels really good.

This is to say: YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY BUY A VIBRATOR. They are wonderful and exist for a reason. Good feelings breed more good feelings. Endorphins breed more endorphins. Before you even consider making penetration feel good, you should get yourself back into the swing of things by focusing on clitoral orgasms. I find that any time I'm feeling particularly sensitive to penetration, a warm-up orgasm relaxes everything. You should work on this on your own, a few times. To remind yourself that you can do it. And to remind yourself that you WANT to do it. Also, when the time comes that you are ready for vaginal sex with your husband again, Something That Vibrates should ABSOLUTELY be involved with your clit to keep you relaxed.

Just asking this question indicates that you really love him and to genuinely want to make this work. So, here is the thing: it is absolutely fine to have a lower sex drive than your partner. What is not fine, is not talking about it. It is not fine for you to feel inadequate and him to feel rejected.

Also, Rye makes an excellent point: you know what doesn't have anything to do with vaginal muscles/penetration? Cunnilingus. Fellatio. Making out. Those things are all just as important and would probably go a long way towards relaxing you both.

I'd love to open this up to you guys. Has anyone ever dealt with this kind of situation before? Any advice for our reader?

15 comments:

  1. As it happens I've just been there with my girlfriend last few months, she was very distressed about it all, so yes, a lot of oral sex and feeling wanted and loved and sexy is a pretty important thing.

    We went to a UK store called Sh! Women, a store for women only (men allowed to accompany!) and the lady knew all about vaginismus, they had a vibrator kit for it (rather sexier and more fun than the hideously named 'training cones' on the medical websites) and that in itself meant it was normal enough for there to be sexy products for it, so chilled the whole situation. And those shops are funny anyway, and making it fun rather than some disastrous medical issue helps.

    She bought a small vibrator, and then a slightly larger one, work in progress but happy work. The lady claimed that the vibrating feature in itself relaxes the muscles, I don't know about that, she doesn't use them when I'm around.

    And I get (and give) a lot of blowjobs in the meantime! :)

    RC

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    1. Thanks so much for the detailed response! I'm sure the person that asked this question will get some definite help from this. Can't imagine having such an issue, so we definitely feel for those that are afflicted. But good for you, for working through it together, with lots of blowjobs!

      -Rye

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  2. I think the self-assessment advice above is solid. Take it a step further and learn about what other things you and yours enjoys in bed. Good sex is more than just vaginal penetration. It's about intimate interpersonal communication. It's about enjoying deeply the company of someone you care deeply for. This is an opportunity to learn more about the turn-ons and turn-offs. All topics are heard and none are judged. Have a night/day where the focus is not about tab B in slot A.

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    1. Hear hear! Thanks for the addition of this, it's actually super helpful, regardless of any other issues in the bedroom. The times when we have vaginal intercourse are actually one in three or four encounters. Sometimes it's mutual masturbation, only oral, prostate play, anal, toys, or any numbers of combinations. Thinking of sex as only Tab and Slot is a bit boring anyway!

      -Rye

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  3. Visiting a gynecologist and getting a vibrator - good advice. The thing I would add is a component of relaxation. Deep breathing, yoga, and meditation in some combination may help this reader to feel more present in her body and be able to open up (pun kinda intended).

    In addition, I do kegel exercises often and I wonder if that may help - in the sense that perhaps being able to control when she clenches the pelvic floor may give her more control over relaxing it.

    -@luridspacetales

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    1. Absolutely! Having more and better control over those muscles is a definite step in the right direction, and doing what you can to try and relax through breathing exercises is certainly not going to make things worse.

      -Rye

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  4. "If you and your doctor determine that this is a psychological rather than physical problem, it seems to me that if you're going to put something in there, it should be something that feels really good."

    I have to respectfully disagree. Yes, dilators are wildly unsexy and of course you'd rather have something in there that feels really good, but they do give you sort of a 'baby steps' system that can be a real comfort. Especially when anticipating pain is part of the problem. This might be different for everyone of course, but they have helped me immensely while I was dealing with vaginismus, even though physically there was nothing wrong with me.

    My background story is a little different, though. I was still a virgin when I was diagnosed with it, and it was probably caused by me growing up in a household where sex was 'bad, wrong and dirty, and you should save it for someone you love' (which is completely moronic in so many different ways). I realize this is not the case for everyone, but because of it I too was someone who just didn't talk about sex.

    Talking about it, however, was exactly what I needed to do in order to 'get over it'. Dilators aside, something that helped me was seeing a sex therapist. I felt really awkward about it at first, but it has been nothing but comforting. That's not to say you should immediately go see one (and definitely go to your gynecologist first), but it can help *especially* when you don't feel comfortable talking about sex.

    And Rye makes an excellent point. Penetration is certainly not the only way to be intimate with your partner. For two years (not to scare you, or anything...) our sex life mainly consisted of oral and handjobs, and we were happy. Our 'dysfunctional' sex life was still very much a sex life.

    Best of luck to you!

    xRory

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    1. Wow! A very fine counterpoint! Thanks for writing in about your personal experiences, Rory, this is definitely super helpful. Having not experienced anything like it, it's nice to have someone that's suffered through it to be able to share. And very happy to hear you've made a recovery!

      -Rye

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  5. Couldn't mutual masturbation be of help here?

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    1. Oh, most definitely! Problems or not, mutually masturbate frequently!

      -Rye

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  6. Dilators vs. Vibrators is going to be a matter of personal choice, as has already been shown in the comments.

    At some point in my journey, I thought the Dilators would help due to the range of sizes within the set. They were clinical and not particularly sexy, though it reminded me of what I couldn't have and one day I got frustrated and chucked the lot of 'em. Last year my partner began to buy different sized vibrators and with a lot of trial and error I began to accept bigger and bigger sizes without little or no pain.

    My experience has been a little different though as I had Vulvodynia (unprovoked and provoked pain). I was 15, had been having sex for over a year and for some unknown reason, Vulvodynia embedded itself into mine and my partner's life. Fast forward 8 years and we've (I'm still with the same partner) only just been able to have sex again.

    Communication and intimacy are key in situations like this. Talk about it, act on it and something will happen - what that something is no one knows but that's when you take your next step!

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    1. Yes, most certainly! Communicate, communicate, communicate!

      And thanks for chiming in with your personal experience. Terribly sorry to hear about your challenges with this affliction, but really glad to hear that you are working your way through it and are able to have P in the V sex again. Get it!

      -Rye

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  7. Sometimes when I skype my boyfriend and he starts masturbating to porn, I feel inadequate. Is this normal or should I focus on building my self esteem?

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    1. I feel really inadequate when my boyfriend masturbates to porn too. Which is weird because I sometimes get off from things on this blog. He always waits for me to leave on a run then jacks off. I wish he would just have sex with me rather than wait for me to leave. Is it a self esteem thing, or is it legitimate to feel this way?

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    2. To the first of these two, is he doing it WHILE you're Skype sexing? Like, you're masturbating for him and he's doing it to porn? Because that seems a little strange. Or is he just masturbating for you and is using some inspiration from porn? Porn, in moderation, is completely normal and natural. And we're all into it, to some degree. Hell, you're reading this blog, so you're into it too. Maybe next time he starts jerking it to porn on Skype, get his attention back by jerking yourself to him.

      And for the second response, that seems pretty hypocritical of you to jerk off to porn but not be cool with him doing the same. And sometimes, we just want to jerk off, not have sex and that's totally normal and fine too. If you want him to fuck you rather than jerk off after you leave, how about saying, "you're gonna jerk off as soon as I walk out that door, aren't you?" When he sheepishly agrees, respond with, "why don't you bend me over and fuck me instead?" I'm pretty sure that would solve your dilemma.

      -Rye

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