What It’s Like to Not Be Able to Have Sex | Iris

published on July 2, 2020

deep breath in let your belly rise and

expand like a balloon

rock your pelvic floor imagine a line

passing through your vagina it takes

rate mental energy and focus to move

muscles that you've never consciously

moved muscles that you're not even

allowed to talk about

I have vaginismus


vaginismus is the pelvic floor condition

where the muscles in my vagina

involuntarily contract making me too

tight to penetrate

it's why I'm in my mid-twenties and have

never had a boyfriend falling in love or

had sex

vaginismus reared its head when I

started my period when I tried using a

tampon it felt like I was trying to

force it into a hole that wasn't there

it was just this tearing stabbing pain

the worst pain I've ever had my mom

tried to coach me through it oh just put

some Vaseline on it it'll slip right in

but I knew no amount of Vaseline was

going to help something was definitely


I learned to hide the secret very well

she was an extra tampon I carry tampon

so I can pretend I use them too


I picked dresses with big full skirts

for proms because I had to hide panty

lines and paths


for many years I didn't know when my

period was coming so I RSVP'd no to pool

parties and passed on going to the beach

with my friends

I spent years visiting countless doctors

who couldn't tell me what I had or how

to fix it they told me to just relax

which is very hard to do when you're

bracing yourself for a lot of pain some

told me to just drink alcohol when I

wanted to be intimate with someone but

alcohol does not lead to looser muscles

only into fat decisions one told me to

buy the skinniest candles I could find

and try inserting those when I was on my

period because I would be naturally


I didn't think I'd ever be able to do it

that's when the mean nasty ugly voice

inside my head told me you'll never have

sex you'll never fall in love you'll

never get married or have children


that's a lot riding on one body part


it wasn't until I was in graduate school

that I was finally referred to a

physical therapist who specialized in

pelvic pain I went to her office twice a

week so she could put her hand inside me

and stretch me out she gave me a set of

dilators to practice inserting at home

for about thirty minutes every day she

told me to stop doing crunches and

sit-ups because contracting my abs

contracts the muscles in my pelvic floor

making them tighter and harder to

penetrate she helped me realize that my

physical pain and emotional pain are

inherently affected physical pain makes

me anxious about penetration and

intimacy in turn the anxiety causes my

muscles to squeeze tighter and tighter

and tighter

it's not an easy cycle to break but

after a few months of physical therapy

I used the tampon for the first time now

I wanted to achieve my next goal because

I felt the clock ticking the big V word

looming over me no one wants to be a

burden in their 20s I've been dating

this guy for a few weeks and I decided

to just get it over with stop stop stop

what's wrong so I have this thing I

haven't had sex before

because I can't it's hilarious

that's hilarious

there's nothing worse than being

rejected for a part of yourself that

you're working so hard to change the

part that has caused so much pain a part

that has pushed people away just because

I can't have sex right now means I'm not

enough for anyone what if I never will



I'm happy for my friends but sometimes I

have trouble finding interests in their

love and sex lives most days I don't

think it's ever going to happen for me

who would want to date someone who can't

have sex


but if it is going to happen it's going

to be with someone who's willing to work

with me

someone who's patient and empathetic


will he show up tomorrow six months from


ten years from now

never I don't know

well what I do know is that vaginismus

though it's been painful has saved me

from wasting time on a lot of jerks

all right see you next week yeah I'll be






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