PSA: Sex should not be painful.
We are guessing you have never heard of Vaginismus. Even though it is the primary female cause for sexless (unconsummated) marriages and one in 2000 women experience it (experts believe it is widely under reported due to women feeling ashamed, embarrassed or even that this kind of pain is normal).
It may be hard to pronounce, but this is what it is: the vagina muscles tighten involuntarily, making sexual intercourse very painful. Many women will experience it at some point in their life, regardless of their sexual activity.
So, why does this condition develop?
Speaking to Mamamia, Dr Ginni Mansberg explained vaginismus can be particularly distressing as we don't really talk about it.
There are so many different causes, which include psychological and physical factors. These include:
- rape, sexual abuse or assault in the past
- unpleasant sexual intercourse
- medical conditions such as UTIs and chronic pain syndromes
- fear of getting pregnant
- fear the vagina may be too small for any penetration
As for how it feels? Rather than try to describe it, here are stories from three women who have experienced Vaginismus themselves:
"Every time I had sex with my boyfriend, it was painful. The more we did it, the more unbearable it became and the more I made excuses. I initially endured the pain but then it became completely intolerable. Even after a year of being sexually active with each other, I was so embarrassed to tell him just how painful sex was for me. It felt as though my vagina had a wall, and nothing could break through that wall. Not a tampon, not a finger and especially not a penis.
"After two years of tolerating the painful sex, I told my GP when getting my first pap smear. I got it checked out and almost immediately saw a physiotherapist. It was really hard for my partner and I, he just didn’t understand. For him, if it it was all in my mind then all he had to do was relax my mind. But for me, it was a physical barrier that was out of my control. It's not that I didn't want sex, it's that I physically couldn't have it.” - Kate, 20*