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After sex is possible: "So now what?"

So you have healed from vaginismus, you managed to insert all dilators, maybe you were even able to have quite a hassle-free Pap test, so you tried intercourse and you ‘achieved’ penetration without feeling pain …
But you didn’t like it.
You didn’t orgasm. Or you did but it was overall quite a disappointment. Maybe you are glad you can say “I did it!!”, but you may be wondering what the big deal was about i/c and if it was worth all this work. Well, a significant number of women feel disappointed by intercourse once they are able to finally have it. You are not alone. That is probably because at the end of such a long journey to overcome vaginismus, the expectations about what sex will make us feel like get magnified out of proportion.
Young women especially may feel that they will achieve womanhood, some kind of magical momentum and transformation after having sex and of course then they realize that there is much more to becoming a woman, then being able to accept a penis in us…

So, what we can say is that if you felt disappointed by how sex was, or better still if you still have to attempt intercourse, you could ask yourself what kind of expectations or sexpectations you or your partner have attached to sex, so that you are ready to then face possible disappointments linked to them.
Some of these expectations may have to do with poor knowledge of what intercourse really is all about, or to lack of proper information about how you may have to ‘practice’ it before it gets really good.

The following paragraphs will try to show you some of the most common expectations so that you can be ready and have a very loving, satisfying experience rather than a disappointing one.

Low libido or Asexuality: when you just don’t feel like it

Being able to have intercourse without pain or brick walls in the way, will not equal WANTING to have sex or being in synch with your partners’ sexual wishes.

Unfortunately, one of the risks of focusing on fixing vaginismus without first wondering if the partner you are with is worth sex in the first place, is that you may then be stuck with a partner you don’t really like or have no real admiration or deep feelings for, or worse, you may be stuck in an insentive or abusive relationship with him or even get pregnant.
Sexual compliance inside consensual relationships is a very widespread serious issue unfortunately and we hope you will think twice before thinking you owe sex to anybody, even to your husband. If he loves you, he will NEVER ever pressure you to have intercourse with him, especially if he knows you simply don’t enjoy it or don’t feel like it.

Now, there may be understandable reasons why you don’t feel like sex such as the simple fact that you get no pleasure out of it. This could change with time, or with learning different positions or by changing the partner you are with. But in general, it needs to be said that you shouldn’t really feel under no pressure to even WANT to have sex. Just like there are homosexual and heterosexual orientations, there have been some first interesting explorations of how there may also be an “asexual” orientation. (Check out their Asexuality Network here).

Whether or not asexuals (men and women who just don’t feel like sex or think about sex that much) may be just another label which unfortunately judges people according to something as irrelevant as their sexual orientation, they DO have a point.

Not everybody IS sexual.
Not everybody may even want to BECOME sexual.
And yet they have the ability to love, so they need just as much as respect as heterosexual or homosexual or heterosexual people…

So, if you feel that you don’t have a sexual bone in your body, you know what? It’s ok and you’re not the only one and it’s not the end of the world. You are fine the way you are and you can still be loving and loved. Even some men feel that way, believe us, but men are even more pressured than women from society, to prove that they like women, like sex and want to have as much as they can. So it’s harder for them to say “hey, it’s no big deal for me either, I’m ok with just cuddling or talking”..

Validate your feelings and your body. If your partner has different wishes from you (just remember, they are not NEEDS), you may want to ask him plain and simple if he is with you so he can satisfy his wishes or for something deeper and more meaningful than that. IF there is love in a relationship (“much virtue in an IF”, wrote Shakespeare), you may turn to your partner out of the blue and tell him “I don’t think I’ll ever feel like sex” and he should turn to you and go “oh, ok, sure, no problem” and you two could go on to do whatever it is you do together or that you do for other people or for your kids, and enjoy it without any need for couple therapy, divorces, sexual abuse, cheatings, marital rape, and other really nasty things that still happen unfortunately to women who just don’t feel like ‘giving it up’.

When it lacks spontaneity and the need to dilate right before i/c

Once treatment is successful, as it will be in about 90% of cases, some women believe or are guaranteed that they will never again have any problem with intercourse. That statement isn’t a total lie, but it needs some explanation. At least for a little while, there can still be some struggling: sex won't come that easy and straight-forwardly. Sex won't be a "bang-it's in! wooh-hoo!" kind of experience in most cases.

It may still be necessary to dilate a bit right before intercourse. Especially for the first few months or year after vaginismus has been treated, it is not uncommon for women to still need to use dilators or vibes just before having intercourse or integrate them into foreplay and having to take things easy when inserting their partner's penis.

Vaginas are elastic but there are many muscles down there, keeping it that elastic, and that means that even women who never suffered from vaginismus, after going through long periods of sexual inactivity, will need some time and gentle loving before their muscles can open up automatically again without discomfort or pain. If the partner is loving and sex is not full of expectations, then whatever will be needed to do for the woman to feel comfortable shouldn’t be a problem. It will be done. Who cares if it’s not wild sex ?

The love you share and the fact that you are both there only to enjoy each other’s company and not to GET somewhere, will make up for all the spontaneity or orgasm that may be missing…

When it's still painful

We already described in one of the Misconceptions on Vaginismus how many websites or therapists will declare that once you heal from it, it will never be back or sex will no longer be a problem.
This can be VERY misleading and a cause of much suffering and disappointment.
Vaginas aren't robots. NOBODY can predict how they will act when attempting intercourse, EACH time could be different and since SO many things influence our love-making sessions, it is not hard to understand how some days sex can come easy whereas others it can still be painful.

Below here are some of the main reasons that could cause sex to be still painful after you had painfree intercourse once or for a few times.
It could be one or more of them combined. It could be something psychological or physical, or both. You may need to see a doctor, change your partner or learn more about your vagina.

Either way, we hope that both you and your partner will enjoy each other so much and love each other so deeply that not managing to have intercourse will not mean rain on your parade. At all. If there is love and understanding, you should already be very happy and feel very lucky, just look around you, it's not that common to find someone who really loves you, through thick and thin, and likes you just the way you are. So we hope that lack of sex or painful intercourse won't spoil that feeling. It'd be a big waste..

Anyway, these are some of the possible causes of painful sex or vaginismus re-occurring after painfree sessions:

1. DYSPAREUNIA Vaginismus is not the only cause of painful sex. Check on the article on Dyspareunia for a list of common health problems which could be causing you pain during intercourse after you solved your vaginismus. See a doctor and find out if one of those reasons could be it and there will likely be treatments for most of them.

2. ALLERGIES, BLEEDING, INFECTIONS, OTHER HEALTH PROBLEMS See the article on Spoiling the Moment for more details on this.

3. WRONG POSITION, STROKE, TIMING, FOREPLAY etc. If it's one of these problems, the good news is that you will soon find what works for you. It could just be a matter of time and of getting used to your bodies and what they truly like or need before and during sex.
It could be fun experimenting what works!
For more information, you may also check the brief section on positions and circumcision


That's tough to hear. And the following paragraphs have been criticized or misunderstood so we'll try to rephrase this concept.

If you love your partner, if you show it to him (her) as you want and as you can, in your own unique way, and if they love you back and show it back to you in their own way too, then of course not being able to have sex with them does not mean that you don't love them or that they are the wrong partner for you, and it should be pretty clear to you if you love them or not and if you feel loved or not..

If you are not that sure that your partner is the right one for you instead or if your partner doesn't show you love or doesn't make you feel loved, then you may want to consider that vaginismus may be your body's way of telling you to get out of that relationship.

Quite a good number of women we talked to in support groups realized only after finding a new, supportive and understanding partner that their vaginismus was very much protecting them from having unhealthy relationships before. That often happened when their former partner was abusive, or seemed to be with them only for his benefit or only to get sex, or was insensitive, called them names, was unsupportive about vag. etc..

Sometimes, with a new partner, sex was suddendly pretty easy and possible, (remember that vaginismus can be situational), or they were able to work through the dilating process having a supportive partner and that made a difference for them.

So we are just saying that it is a possibility that vaginismus may be warning you that your partner is not the right one, we don't mean to say that not being able to have sex with your parnter MEANS that he's the wrong partner cause it would be very stupid to assume that in ALL cases.

As for the partner, a man may start wondering if you love him or not, because of your vaginismus and you may feel bad about that of course. But again, if he is loving and wise then he should be able to see if you love him or not, shouldn't he ?

If he thinks you need to show him love sexually in order to feel loved maybe he needs to realize that having sex in a couple is not necessarily a sign of love.

And if he started getting mad at you, insulting you, accusing you of not loving him, of cheating on him, then honestly... maybe he isn't the right partner for you after all...

In our MISCONCEPTIONS on vaginismus we tried from the start to include that one of the myths is that women with vag. are not sexually attracted to their partners, so we hope it's clearer that the possibility that your partner may not be the right one for you, is just ONE possibility.

Whereas for some couples sex is truly used as one of the many expression of love they share, for other couples sex will be used to make it up and cover up problems without facing them or to make up for a lack of true intimacy between them.
Vaginismus is once again a great tool because it doesn't give the couple any place to hide and it can let the woman see very clearly if love is there or not in the relationship.

You deserve someone you love and who loves you, that's what your vagina may be telling you.

When you still don't connect with your partner

To cut a long story short... We strongly believe that if there was no strong emotional connection between you and your partner before you managed to have painfree intercourse, then you will not find a huge difference in "intimacy" after sex is possible and painfree...

Before even trying to solve vaginismus and invest a lot on it, ask yourself where you are emotionally with your partner and be very honest..
Sex will likely not change that much. It can deepen a strong bond, but it would be pretty weird if it created a real one where there wasn't one in the first place.. Obviously it may feel like it does, especially at first, or for those moments, but we're just warning you against expecting an increased intimacy if there is no deep intimacy already between you. That's all...

When you feel that nothing has changed in your life

If vaginismus wasn't the only problem you were dealing with in your life, then you may expect that being able to fix it will also suddendly fix a lot of other problems for you.
Say you are single and depressed about it, you may think that it is because of your vaginismus and that after you fix it on your own, you will be able to date and find a boyfriend and live happily ever after or something..
That may happen but you may solve vaginismus and still discover that you are still hesitant to date or to trust men. And you know what? It may be a very valid feeling you have, why would you try and force yourself to trust them in the first place? Maybe it's up to them to win your trust, you dont have to keep trying and changing and fixing who you are..!
Being penetrated does not alter your core, your soul, and thank goodness for that.. Or victims of sexual abuse would never heal..

So, bottom line: your core as a person and the core of your relationship will not be easily altered after solving your vaginismus. So before focusing time and energy on this issue, maybe it'd be a good idea to focus on your core first or on your relationship and be very honest and maybe give yourself more credit for the person you are now, before trying to change...

And if you decide to try and change something, make sure it's not for anybody's sake but your own.. And this goes for vaginismus too..

When you don't feel pleasure ( Anorgasmia)

Many women complain that they can have intercourse now but it’s not pleasurable. They feel nothing, they don’t orgasm and they feel there was "nothing in it for them". First of all, orgasm shouldn't be the finishing line of every sexual encounter. It has been pointed out in some studies how women may not need to orgasm: basically, as long as there’s been a lot of emotional intimacy during sex, they can be just as fully satisfied, so men should not pressure them to 'get one'. Or not each time they have sex at least.

That said, women also shouldn’t be doing sex only to please their partner while feeling like mummies there.

Despite the tendency nowadays being that of blaming everything on hormones or on lack of sexual skills etc., it seems understandable that the women (and men) getting pleasure out of intercourse will be the ones who are the most in love and attracted physically and emotionally by their partners and who feel loved and wanted just as much as they love and want him. (or her).

If intimacy, love, attraction are not there on both sides, it seems unlikely that sexual intercourse will bring a deep lasting satisfaction. Some may show off and say the best sex they had was with some one-night-stand guy/girl where it was just ‘animal’. Fair enough. That can happen too for sure, if considering purely the pleasure scale. But usually the best sex or kiss that women (and men too!!) will still remember as they are old is the one where they gave ALL of themselves in it, heart and body...and where there was a lot of love and tenderness too.

So before starting some hormonal therapy, before feeling tempted to try some sort of pink or blue Viagra, you may first investigate your need for orgasm, your need for emotional intimacy, your emotional attraction for your partner, your body image and address issues arising from your honest answers. For instance, having a negative body image seems very related to not being able to 'let go' sexually. Once again, it's nothing a woman should be blamed for, considering the terrible pressure on not looking ugly, fat, flat etc., that surround us everyday..

So not being able to fully let go may be a symptom that you don't feel comfortable with your body the way it is, or with your partner, and it may be worth working on these aspects and on the pressures you are under, rather than finding ways to trick your body into having pleasurable experiences by pretty much knocking your conscience off.
In the long run, that will help you a lot more and avoid more suffering..

Be brave, validate your vagina!

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DISCLAIMER: This site is not designed to provide medical advice. All material is gathered from the experience of hundreds of women who experienced vaginismus but it is for information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional or medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment. Please review the information contained on vaginismus-awareness-network.org carefully and confer with a health care professional specialized in vaginismus, as needed.