sex

'I've had vaginismus my whole life. Here's how I navigate casual sex.'

This article was originally published in The Lonely Girls Guide newsletter. You can subscribe right  here.

For the majority of my late teens into early adulthood, I believed that all women found penetrative sex extremely painful, and that we were all just pretending that we enjoyed it.

It was only when I found this article by my friend Billi, that I realised the pain I was experiencing was not normal. In fact, it was a condition that many women suffer with, most of them like myself, in complete silence. 

Watch: What is vaginismus? Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

At this time, I was dating someone exclusively. 

Usually when it came to penetrative sex in a casual setting, I would either try to avoid it completely or just silently accept the excruciating pain. 

I would lie to the men I was seeing and say that I only have PIV (Penis in Vagina) sex with people I'm in relationships with. That would usually result in no further questions however those encounters never lasted very long. 

When I did attempt to have PIV, I would try to make it as quick as possible and hide my face so they wouldn't see the pain I was going through. I'd then promptly go to the bathroom to have a little cry and take some deep breaths to calm myself down. I know. Extremely unhealthy.

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After a few months, I was ready to try having penetrative sex. But not only was the pain the worst it had ever been, but it was physically not happening. It was like there was something blocking my vagina and nothing was working. 

As advised in the article, I went to my GP to find out what was going on. After a (very painful) physical examination, she diagnosed me with vaginismus and referred me to a physio who specialises in women's health. 

I won't go into too much detail about my therapy sessions because I know that curing vaginismus is different for everyone and I am currently still working through mine. 

I remember during my first session I told my physio that I was currently dating someone which is why I wanted to cure my vaginismus ASAP. She did say that it would take some time but I was determined to get this over and done with. 

Long story short, the guy I was seeing at the time broke it off about a month after my first physio session. He said it wasn't because of my vaginismus, and I would like to believe that. Now I was going into my second session as a single person. 

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When I told my physio this, she seemed a bit relieved. She said that sometimes it's better to cure vaginismus when you're single as it takes away that added pressure to have penetrative sex.

It was only after my second session that I fully accepted my condition. I was eager to heal myself at the speed my body chose and confiding with friends who have also suffered with vaginismus, the process was so much easier. 

The one thing I was adamant about was that I didn't want my vaginismus to impact on my lifestyle choices. One of them being casual sex. 

I love casually dating. I love dressing up and going out and meeting new people and coming back either super happy or dissapointed, yet excited to laugh about it with friends. 

I'm proud to say that even though I still have vaginismus, I've been able to have a decent amount of enjoyable casual encounters.

I manage this by living my casual dating life with this statement always at the back of my mind:

Penis in Vagina sex (PIV) doesn't equal good sex, in fact PIV doesn't even equal sex.  

Listen to Em speak about dating apps on The Undone podcast. Post continues below.

Just as I'm about to get physical with someone, I lay my cards out on the table and tell them I can't have Penis in Vagina sex (PIV). In the past, most of my casual partners accept this and we continue to have a great time. If I'm going to see the same person again, that is where I become more candid about my condition and answer any questions they might have. 

It sucks that out of all the men I've dated only one of them knew about vaginismus (and that was because he heard me talk about it on my Instagram). I do hope that educating my casual dates about vaginismus makes them open to learning more about women's health and that PIV sex shouldn't be the only form of sex.

Of course I would love to experience pain-free penetrative sex, but accepting my diagnosis and coming to terms with it has allowed me to have both physically and mentally pain-free casual sex.

Oh, and if you sleep with a man who tells you that he is disappointed with your lack of PIV (it's rare but sadly it does happen), just know that means he is likely really bad at sex and then laugh about it with your friends. 

For more from Emily Vernem, subscribe to her newsletter, or follow her on Instagram.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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