I swore with the pain, pushed him away, and rushed to the bathroom to tend to myself. It was the third bad tear this month during sex.
Clearly I had an issue. “I think I’ll book a doctor’s appointment,” I called out to my husband. “Maybe it’s hormonal.”
He didn’t say anything. I knew he’d be annoyed about not finishing. I was annoyed too.
Watch: How to have better sex. Post continues below.
The rips always hurt for days afterwards. Lately, I’d been satisfying myself when he was out, at least then I’d get to enjoy an orgasm without risking another injury.
I never seemed to be able to orgasm properly with intercourse, anyway. Trying to get there involved gymnastic precision and enthusiasm I just didn’t have the energy for since turning 30.
My husband had no interest in trying to please me. The occasional time he did try, shoving his fingers around haphazardly, it was too rough to be pleasurable. “I like it when you do that more gently,” I softly encouraged for the early years of our marriage, thinking I could teach him what I wanted.
I believed the magazines at the time: it’s best to speak up and show them what turns you on. But some people don’t want to be taught. Sex was for my husband’s benefit rather than mine and had been that way for years.
I booked the doctor’s appointment the next day.
The doctor, a small grandfatherly man in his late 60s, listened with kind eyes while I described my situation.
I don’t remember the rest of the appointment. If he did an examination of the tear I’ve blocked it out. I felt embarrassed and defective to be struggling with sex at this age.
Wasn’t vaginal dryness the kind of thing women got in menopause? I was years away from that. Maybe I just wasn’t a sexual person? But my active private sex life (the one on my own without my husband) said something else.
He handed me a form for a blood test and another for a prescription. As I suspected, the cream was for menopausal women. So, it was me after all.