I was sixteen, with my first partner, and terrified.
There was no objective reason; My partner was loving and we had both mutually agreed the time was right, we’d done the research, had the equipment, and even secured time without my parents at home.
The internet was a great ally.
‘Is your first time painful?’
‘It can be, but this isn’t always the case. Make sure you’re comfortable, give your body time to warm up and get aroused, and take it slow’.
Most sites shared this perfectly valid advice and I took it to heart. But society is a bitch, built-in fear and shame surrounding sex can be hard to ignore and, even if you actively defy it, it can affect your thought…and your body.
A scalpel trying to cut its way in to me.
That’s what it felt like when the person I loved tried to make love with me. It was devastating.
I went through a lot of emotions as a result of that first encounter: I’m broken, I didn’t do enough research, he’ll stop loving me, he’ll leave me, what if it happens again.
What if it happens again.
That fear stayed with me on our next attempt and my body seized up even more as my mind raced. I wanted sex—wanted to feel my partner inside of me and affirm our relationship physically—but even time I tried I was in tears. My vagina burned. The dull ache of our attempts lasted for days afterwards and my thoughts became worst and worst.
Multiple medical professionals dismissed my concerns. I was just nervous. It wasn’t unusual. The list of dismissals went on as I vulnerably confessed my failings time and time again. One nurse told me I should get drunk. A sixteen year old girl. Get drunk so sex wouldn’t hurt. You can imagine how well that went.
It took a long time but persistence and desperation are two very powerful forces. Eventually a doctor took me seriously and uttered the words that would change my life:
‘Have you heard of Vaginismus?”
I hadn’t, of course, but the term was obscure back then. Thankfully now it’s gaining more coverage every day and with each new dilator kit I see hit the market I can’t help but smile.
Knowing what I had and how it functioned was incredibly significant. I wasn’t broken—my muscles were simply contracting when they weren’t meant to. My mind was reinforcing the behaviour and I needed to retrain myself. Suddenly things became manageable.
Sex wasn’t instant (nor instantly enjoyable). Instead, I started using dilators in conjunction with regular therapy sessions and the unending support of my partner. I learnt to be kinder to myself and I discovered bullet vibrators. It was a long time before my body came to associate penetration with pleasure, but each slow bit of progress felt like a life-changing achievement.
The first time I was able to take my partner I cried tears of joy.
By that time, we had made love multiple times—we realized that sex was so much more than just penetration—but the action was still significant. I was reclaiming my body and my attitude towards sex, and I was so proud of what I could achieve.
And now I’m an internationally recognized sex toy reviewer with more dildos then my house logically has room for.
If you’d have told me this was possible when I started recovery I could have never believe you (though I would have hoped). But recovery is possible and it is worth the struggle.
So, if you’re a current sufferer, please don’t lose faith. What you’re going through hurts in so many ways, I know, and it’s easy to think it never has an end, but you are an amazing force and, with the right treatment approach, you will do this.
I believe in you.