I always had the feeling that I am late in my life.
I was one of the last girls who got their period, my body started to grow when everybody else was already dressed up "girly" and sexy. I had the impression that I was quite invisible for the majority of boys. My school classes were most of the time girls-only and with my hobbies (riding and dancing) I also hadn‘t much contact with boys in my free time.
So the subject of intercourse was never current for me. I never used tampons because I didn‘t like the feeling and to be honest wasn‘t able to insert them.
When I got my first boyfriend in the beginning of this year, of course the topic intimacy suddenly appeared. I really enjoyed my first experiences but was also a little overwhelmed. He had already had two relationships and of course intercourse - the majority of people around me weren’t virgins anymore and I felt the pressure to "finally" do it too. Even some of my closer people couldn‘t understand why I was waiting so long and why I didn‘t "just do it", didn‘t I love him? Or didn‘t he desire me?
But I had the feeling that my body "closed" even with just the thought about sex. I had so much fear of pain and that it would not be possible to have penetrative sex in general.
My personal early attempts to insert a finger alone at home have also been a... longer journey. First, it was nearly impossible, but with a lot of patience it worked but was not pleasurable at all - it sometimes felt so tight that I had the feeling a little knife entered me (a feeling which didn't encourage or increase my wish for sex of course).
I was quite desperate, nobody seemed to have these problems. My closest friends listened to me and tried to encourage me, but didn‘t really understand and also didn‘t know how to help me. I felt like a weirdo. Sometimes I doubt myself: Was I just too "hysteric"?
I talked to my boyfriend about my fears and I am so grateful that he is supportive and patient. He didn’t put pressure on me and I could totally go at my speed. But inside of me my inner voice was asking: "Am I worth for him? How long will he wait and stay patient? What, if I can’t handle the problem fast enough, and his sex drive is so unsatisfied... Will he leave me? Will I lose my sex drive (which was luckily still there) when I have several frustrating experiences? Will he lose his desire for me when he must always "stop" himself? Am I ever able to have other relationships?"
I realized I couldn’t handle all these thoughts alone anymore and I did long research on the internet. But the result was, to be honest, not very satisfying. I was lucky when vaginismus was at least mentioned in some medical pages, but most of the articles were really brief and only described the symptoms and no help.
On Instagram I finally found some blogs where people with vaginismus told their stories. @pain.free.and.intimate was the page which I liked the most. Some of the other pages, to be honest, increased my fear because they were struggling, too and their description of their negative and fearful emotions in this vaginismus journey or posts about their unsuccessful attempts reminded me of my biggest fears.
Katrin, who has already successfully overcome vaginismus, gave me hope and reminded me with her posts, that with work on myself, everything is possible. She also talks about negative experiences, but in a more optimistic way. She emphasizes the aspect of emotional healing and presents plenty of physical AND psychical methods to deal with vaginismus that I heard for the first time and found very interesting.
I decided to write her a direct message. She replied only a few hours later and really took so much time to answer all my questions, gave my plenty of advice, motivated me and celebrated my little successes. I was so glad to finally talk to someone who truly understands and had an open ear, didn't judge me or gave me the feeling to overreact.
During our chatting, I began to think about potential reasons why I could have vaginismus and how I can cope with it. When I visited my gynaecologist, I checked that there aren’t any anatomical issues (yeah great, but I didn‘t get any other suggestions than "just relaaax your pelvic floor, that‘s all").
I found out that my mental blockades have to be solved - in my daily life I am a very ambitious person, who feels safer when I have everything under my control. I often put myself under pressure (without wanting it), compare myself to others and sometimes have the feeling of not being enough. I also often have the expectation that I must make everything as perfect as I can, I wanted to be good in bed and didn’t want to disappoint my partner.
So I began to listen more to my body.
When do I get tense and why? Is it really necessary that I stress myself for so many little things? I started to work on my mindset, to be more generous to myself and to be okay with not doing everything perfectly. I recognized that I benefit extremely from relaxation techniques or just stretching exercises. I take the time for this now regularly - for example before I go to bed or also sometimes during the day, I have the feeling that it clears my mind and connects me more with my body (the signals of which I mostly ignored before because I was more focused on other things). Additionally, breathing deeply supported this process, too.
Another fear was that I was very afraid of getting pregnant so I guess that I unconsciously associated my partners penis with danger and wanted to protect myself by "closing" my vagina. I solved this problem by taking birth control plus using condoms (even though we were just cuddling and kissing naked, but this helped me learn to feel safe and comfortable being this close to my partner).
I am very happy that I recognized my "problem" so early, took it seriously and started to work on it, so I didn‘t rush and make any negative experiences with unsuccessful attempts with my partner and worsen the circle of fear and pain. I wanted to prepare myself until I feel ready. I learned to enjoy being intimate with my partner (a completely new experience for me) and feeling trust and also pleasure without having penetrative sex.
At home, I practiced with my finger and got to know my body better, explored where is what, inside my vagina haha. And there was progress! I got more and more used to finding the right angle for inserting a finger and felt more familiar with my body. After a while, I also experienced a kind of pleasure and tried to carefully guide my partners finger.
But there were moments of frustration too, when everything suddenly felt tighter and that all progress I had made was gone. It was really hard for me to stay calm, I worried a lot and there where many tears on my pillow... But I said to myself that I have to give my body time, some days are better and others don‘t, I have to trust my body that it will be possible some day, that I mustn‘t work against my body but with it. I also found the method of trigger point release very helpful. I didn‘t use dilators, only my fingers, but I planned probably to buy some soon.
Yesterday, it happened! I had my first time PIV!!
I didn‘t plan it (which was good I think), I just had the feeling in the moment that we could try it now. It didn‘t work the first attempt, but my partner calmed me and we just tried it after a while again, very slowly and carefully. And it went in easier than I expected!
I was so proud and happy. I think I will still need time to fully relax, get used to it and have more varied penetrative sex, but inserting the penis was such a big step for me and I am so so happy that I was patient enough to wait for the right moment and that I listened to my body and thought "You can do it".
Vaginismus told me lessons of self-doubt, pain, frustration and desperation. But on the other side, it showed me to NOT stand my inner tension, my overthinking, my fears, but to change my behaviour.
I profited not only in my intimate but also in my personal life that I worked on myself and faced the problems. I realized that the most important thing is to love myself, to be in peace with myself and my body and to do it for me, and not because of the expectations of others. I learnt to recognize when tension or emotional stress is starting to rise in my body so I can already take steps in the beginning to prevent it from getting worse.
Thank you Katrin from the bottom of my heart for giving me the hope and strength to believe in myself, to stay patient and to truly listen to my body!
- Franka (20 years old, Cologne, Germany)