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‘Stop, it hurts.’

I whimpered as my first boyfriend attempted to insert his fingers into my vagina. I’d never been in so much pain. 

He immediately stopped and all I could do was cry. As he wiped the tears from my face, I knew something wasn’t right. 

‘This shouldn’t be happening. It’s supposed to feel good,’ he said. I didn’t know what to say. I felt broken, like something was wrong with me. A couple of weeks later, I broke up with him and distracted myself from what had happened.

I decided to take the easy way out by saying that I ‘just wasn’t ready,’ when I think we both knew that wasn’t entirely the case.

From a young age, cheap aventyl nz the thought of using a tampon, getting a pap smear, or having intercourse terrified me. I couldn’t comprehend how people with vaginas enjoyed insertion – all I could think about was pain. 

I first discovered I had this pain when I had an unsuccessful attempt at inserting a tampon for the first time at 19. I brushed it off as I thought that tampons hurt everyone and that I was just weak for not being able to handle it. The incident with my boyfriend had solidified to me that my pain was indeed not the norm. 

I neglected the issue for eight months, which felt like an eternity at 21 years old, until one day I came across a website about ‘vaginismus’ when attempting to do some research about whether or not what I was experiencing was normal. 

According to the NHS, ‘vaginismus is when the vagina suddenly tightens up when you try to insert something into it. It can be painful and upsetting, but it can be treated.’

I identified with the condition as I experienced a burning sensation anytime something was inserted, but was in denial that I could actually have what seemed like an ‘earth-shattering’ condition.  

At the time, I thought intercourse was the ‘be-all and end-all’ to a romantic relationship and thought that I would never be able to be loved if that wasn’t something that would be possible for me. 

Eight months after the incident, I built up the courage to book a gynaecologist appointment for my pap smear.

When the doctor walked into the exam room, I started sobbing. I handed her a sticky note containing all of the words I couldn’t say out loud.

I wrote that my boyfriend was unable to pleasure me with his hands because I suffered unbearable pain and that I thought my vagina was broken.

She read through it and assured me that nothing would be done that I wasn’t comfortable with. 

After I calmed down, she asked if she could relax the area by inserting her pinky finger. She wasn’t even able to insert it halfway before I started weeping and I told her to stop. She said it was alright and that we could revisit. 

She handed me a piece of paper with ‘vaginismus’ written on it.

My worst fear at the time was confirmed. I couldn’t listen to what she said after as my brain turned off in fear. 

‘What if no one ever loves me?’, ‘No one will ever want me if I can’t have sex with them’, ‘Why does this happen to me?’, were just some of the many negative thoughts that flooded my mind during my walk home.

I didn’t have the brain space to think about the pelvic floor physical therapists the doctor had recommended I look into as I felt completely defeated. 

Later that day I made a pact to myself that I would never date again as I feared the seemingly inevitable breakup that would occur when my next partner discovered that intercourse was not an option with me.

I didn’t want others to assign my worth based on my condition when that was actually what I was doing to myself. 

The pact lasted two months before I re-downloaded Bumble hoping things would be different. I eventually matched with a man who became my next boyfriend. 

After a month I thought I owed him the courtesy of telling him to leave before I became invested and hurt when he would break up with me after learning about my condition. 

I remember the night I told him, I was sobbing uncontrollably while he sat there with a straight face. ‘There’s nothing you can say that will make me think of you differently,’ was his response. He didn’t make a big deal about it and continued treating me normally.

The next morning I woke up to a text filled with names of vaginismus support groups. I couldn’t believe he didn’t ghost me and actually wanted to be there for me. 

Throughout the time we dated, he never made me feel bad about what I could not do and encouraged me to be grateful for what I could. He told me ‘I would rather be with somebody I love, than penetrate somebody I don’t.’ 

Hearing him say that confirmed that I could be loved without intercourse.

He didn’t ‘fix’ me, but he did help change my perspective of myself, my relationships, and my condition. 

Even though we’re not together anymore, the lessons I learned will always stay with me. 

Sex is not exclusively penetration. Outercourse and other forms of intimacy can be equally as powerful and connecting. I realised that people are conditioned to believe sex only refers to intercourse when that couldn’t be further from the truth (at least for me). 

I’ve learned that not everyone will leave me upon finding out about my condition and that those who do are more closed-minded than the people I need to be with. 

I’ve changed a lot since I was diagnosed a year ago. Although I cannot go back and change how I punished myself, I can now proudly say that my condition, although part of who I am, does not define me nor make me any less lovable. 

I want to raise awareness about vaginismus and want people to challenge themselves to really think about what sex actually means to them versus what we are taught it is ‘supposed’ to be.

This condition can feel extremely isolating. I want people with this condition to connect, share their experiences, and realise, most importantly, that they are not alone. 

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