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Virgins and Vaginismus





I decided I needed to write a page dedicated to virgins because of a particular memory I have of how puzzling it was to have vaginismus but not be acknowledged as a potential vaginismus sufferer, because I had never had sex yet.

I was in bed one night, listening to the radio. It was pretty late and this channel had a new programme where a gynaecologist and sex-therapist (male) would answer people's questions regarding sex and sexuality. I was lucky because that night they were evidently talking about painful sex or problems with sex.
I knew nothing about vaginismus or about what sex would have been for me, for that matter but I stirred in bed, my body forced me to pay attention to what they said, evidently I had strong vibes that something wasn't totally the way it was supposed to be, down there, and I badly needed anything reassuring me I guess, or confirming my doubts.

So at some stage this doctor mentioned vaginismus and I still remember how my ears perked up like antennas, probably picking up a sort of "Bingo!" feeling in my body... I listened and that's how he described it, I still remember it after so many years. I don't remember the exact words but those are the messages I had received:

1. That painful sex wasn't a big deal because there was treatment and it was highly successful (he never said what the treatment was about)

2. That the main symptom is painful sex 3. That often it stemmed from ignorance, lack of sex ed., fears etc.

I still remember how that "Bingo!" feeling quickly left me when he went on and on about how this vaginismus disrupted sex and how couples could easily fix this with some sex therapy etc etc.
I had no boyfriend back then and I hadn't even tried sex, so maybe that was not what I had after all...? I turned around, turned off the radio and went to sleep, feeling pretty sad and hopeless cause still nobody had helped me figured out my apprehensions about sex or the pain I would sometimes feel, like being stabbed in my vagina, even simply when having warm baths in my tub...

So it's clear that it may be very puzzling to be a virgin and to feel that something is not quite right about your vagina, or about the idea of sex you have in your mind, but to have no practical proof to show to others that that feeling is not just some irrational fear you’re having but something real.

The medical definition for vaginismus says that it is a sexual dysfunction where a woman experiences spasms of the vaginal muscles "which interfere with intercourse”.

As pointed out in the critical literature review too, this definition completely fails to address virgins or all those women who may be experiencing that spasm in other contexts (for instance, at inserting a tampon) and those who may not experience spasms but feel great anxiety at the thought of inserting anything in the vagina and those who may be calm but still don’t manage to insert anything fully, when trying.

If you are a virgin, you may fear attempting intercourse, a gynecological exam may terrify you or be impossible, you may never have tried a tampon and yet something within you may make you feel worried and because you can't give a name to how you feel, you probably just keep quiet about it, try to gather information wherever you can without directly asking for it, and you may keep avoiding those situations which make you feel so anxious or that have proven to be so painful or distressing when you did try them...

So how can you even know if you have vaginismus or not without actually having to try and insert anything or have a dreaded gynaecological exam to give you a final reply?

In some cases, especially if you never tried to insert anything so you can't really say whether you'd feel pain or experience extreme anxiety, your apprehension MAY in fact simply be due to lack of knowledge of your bits or the lack of proper gentle comprehensive education regarding sexuality.
If that's the case, you may benefit from reading the sections on anatomy, on myths to break, on vaginas sending out a message, and on sex and vaginismus. If the anxiety persists and it should be coupled by pain at any kind of insertions, or extreme phobia at inserting anything, then you may want to explore other sections and/or talk to a good gynecologist about how you feel (see the section on gynecological exams to make sure you are prepared. There are many doctors quite clueless about vaginismus unfortunately...)

The self-diagnosis tests for vaginismus that you may find around or that even your gynecologist may use, usually forget that for a virgin, the anxiety and pain components of vaginismus are actually much more important than the presence of spasm or the interferance with intercourse. So those tests are often no good for virgins.

Vaginismus: Self-diagnosis for Virgins




Before you take the following test, which we tried to devise for virgins specifically, remember that it is NOT a medical test, so please take the results with a pinch of salt, but hopefully it may help you set your mind at ease about something you may have been worrying about for a long time.

For some girls, it is a relief to finally find that what they've lived with for so long has a name, it's medically recognized and has a cure too. For other women, it may sound like a sentence to unhappiness instead, especially if the diagnosis is not followed by clear reassurances about how treatable it is and how common too.

So, if your results should indicate that you MAY have a chance of having vaginismus, remember that there is a cure for this, that you're not doomed to unhappiness or a sexless life, but most of all, that there are men out there who will love you nonetheless and that you can love yourself the way you are too!

Good luck now.



Self-Diagnosis Test for Virgins


 Answer:                      YES  -  NO  - PARTIALLY  -  NEVER TRIED 


1. Are you able to insert a tampon without pain?
2. Are you able to have a gynaecological exam without pain?
3. Are you able to insert finger/s without pain?
4. Are you able to insert applicator/medications in the vagina without pain?
5. Have you ever attempted sexual intercourse?
6. Are you afraid, or phobic, or have panic attacks at the thought of inserting tampons/speculums/fingers or a penis ?
7. Do you tense up, have panic attacks, feel scared when a partner or doctor tries to insert a speculum/a finger or a penis?



RESULTS:

(Remember to take this test only as a clue that your vagina may need a bit of loving and more attention, and not as a death sentence...)


If you replied with more than one “Never tried” and/or "No" to the first 5 questions and "Yes" to either question nr. 6 or nr. 7, then it is LIKELY you may have vaginismus or a 'sex phobia'.

Those names may sound ugly but remember that if there were more women among psychiatrists and gynecologists, those fancy psychiatric names might as well be dubbed as:

"smart vagina device"
"wrong-penis detector"
"discriminative vagina function"

:)
So, the options in front of you now are many. You are at the beginning of a wonderful journey. It can be a lot to take in in one day. So take your time. As soon as you feel ready to explore more, feel free to browse around the site and check what you feel interested in exploring.

If you want to feel totally reasurred about the diagnosis, you can always go see a gynaecologist (with knowledge of vaginismus!) to confirm your doubts. Please check here our guide for a smooth gynaecological visit for vaginismic women here.

You can go straight to the treatments or check out the practical step-by-step guide to self-treatment , but we would suggest that you maybe first get to know your private parts, (see the Vulvar Anatomy section) or that you stop and ask yourself some questions, (see the possible causes of vaginismus) or try to look at vaginismus from a different and positive point of view: ( Vaginismus can be a cool thing! ).

Finally, you can always join a support group or our forum, visit a gynecologist, or just forget about this problem and focus on whatever is more important right now in your life. This is not an illness, you can do fine with it too, honestly.

You probably have much on your plate right now, you can come back to vaginismus in another moment of your life, or never, if it doesn't really bother you. You shouldn't feel guilty about not trying to fix this as soon as you can... It's not lethal or infectious and it's no barrier to love and also to sex actually. Unless we only think of sex as intercourse.

The journey to solve vaginismus certainly takes longer than a one-night-stand-transformation, but the results will be permanent and you will not recognize yourself at the end of it.
Unfortunately you may feel quite insecure, scared, have low self-esteem, feel unworthy of men, less valuable than sexually active women, not quite "normal", ashamed too... Well, that's how screwed up this society is...
It can make you feel that if you're not able to have sex or if you're not having it, you're a loser, which is a total insanity of course...
But speaking of sex...



Virgins and First-time Sex


For an explanation of the hymen and how you can minimize the risk of pain by stretching it etc, please read the article on First time sex Myths, the Hymen and Vaginismus

Is it normal to bleed and feel pain at first time sex?

SOME girls (it is NOT scientifically proven whether it is MOST or FEW) can bleed during first time sex because:

- their hymen tears/breaks
- they get cuts in their vagina from the thrusting
- the boy was very rough

SOME girls can experience pain during first time sex because:

- their vagina (muscles) or vaginal opening aren't stretched enough to accomodate the man's penis so the muscles hurt
- their hymen breaks, stinging and burning
- they have vaginismus or are very tense so the vagina clamps
- they were genitally mutilated (infibulation)
- lack of lube
- the boy was very rough - too deep penetration or bad position

IS THE BLEEDING AVOIDABLE ?

YES. There are things which can be done to prevent it or minimize it.
*Women with or without their partner can stretch their hymen with their fingers or other means painlessly until it's all or mostly gone.
*Women can use a lot of lube.
*Women can first insert fingers and/or dilators, gradually increasing the number/width of fingers or the size of the dilator until they can comfortably thrust something their partner's size without any tearing.
*Men can go gentle and take it slow, without much or no thrusting the first times.

IS THE PAIN AVOIDABLE ?

YES. There are things which can be done to prevent all of it or minimize it.
* Girls/Women and their partners can stop as soon as it gets uncomfortable and not have intercourse until the girl's body is fully ready
* Girls can learn to stretch their opening gently with their fingers or partner's fingers until something the size of a penis can enter painfree
* Girls/Women with vag. or who are very scared and tense at the idea of first time sex can get to know their vulva well beforehand (see our Anatomy article) and get used to inserting gradual things into their vagina until they are totally comfortable and as relaxed as jelly. (See our Guide on Dilating for more tips)

* They can use artificial lube

* Stop female genital mutilation

DO WOMEN WHO HAVE OVERCOME VAG. WITH THE DILATING TECHNIQUE STILL BLEED OF HAVE PAIN DURING THEIR FIRST TIME SEX ?

From many personal experiences shared in forums and groups on vaginismus, the answer is NO.
Many don't bleed and don't experience an ounch of pain during their first time after having dilated and stretched fully, which gives supporting evidence to the idea that pain and bleeding are not biological experiences that women have to put up with because they were born that way and have no other choice.

You have a choice and if you got to this website, you have the tools too.
Thankfully if you can help yourself you can then help other girls, your friends or daughters, to change the world around them so that first time sex for most women will be a completely relaxing, pleasant, pain-free experience.

Young girls in many countries aren't taught to see their vagina as belonging to them, so it may sound weird at first for a young girl to consider the option of inserting her own finger gently and stretch hymen and muscles to get her vagina ready for sex, but the culture which from the Kamasutra onwards, has placed that initiating role upon the boy alone, (who is often just as clueless about vaginal muscles, vaginismus, hymen etc.) has caused a lot of suffering, shame and abuse as we know, and we believe it needs to be challenged.


It may not be easy, particularly for those girls who are still raised in families (even in the U.S.) where they are not supposed to acknowledge they even have a vagina, let alone own it, but we should at least work in that direction and you can do it too by spreading awareness now, so that girls the knowledge and tools to have painfree and pleasant first time experiences where pain, bleeding and fear can be minimized or even totally removed from the experience.

We are not against sex, we're not asking you to pledge you'll remain a virgin for ever or until marriage etc, but we are aware that many young girls are made to believe that sex is what will turn them into "WOMEN" and that many will rush to have this experience, or put up with the pain and face it when still unprepared physically and emotionally for it, only to feel all grown up and mature, only to be then disappointed or to get themselves in troubles or realize that it takes much more to make a woman than to allow a penis in one's vagina..

Especially if you are a virgin in your 30's or 40's and more, you may badly envy those young friends or sisters of yours who have a sexual life, seem uninhibited, don't seem to have a care in the world regarding sex, get gifts for Valentine's day and birthdays from their sexually satisfied boyfriends and boast about their sexual freedom.
It's understandable, cause they seem to have happiness, success, an air of womanhood which can be very appealing.

But look deeper: in many cases, these young women you're envying, are just girls doing what is expected of them in their society, and from statistics and studies (check our University paper on Unwanted First-time sex and girls' sexual compliance here) it's clear how little wanted first sexual experiences are for most women, often there will be a lot of coercion and pressure that many women fall under. Many girls (and boys) will be playing a game in most cases, copying moves from what they saw on TV or read in books, getting drunk to numb them before the act, copying what they see around them done by loveless, immature adults playing games. So they are not that grown up if you look deeper, while you may be quite strong instead, cause you evidently resisted a LOT of pressure.. Yet we bet you may feel like the loser instead...


Of course some young girls have sex inside a loving relationship where sex is just a bonus to it, and it's wanted, and it's shared and safe and pleasurable and both are adults and ready to accept any possible consequence coming from it. But in many cases unfortunately, things won't go that way.


So, think twice before envying women whose vaginas are less discriminating or brave than yours. You may bless your vagina in the future for protecting you from one of the possible unhappy fates instead...
Hindsight is 20/20...


The value of Virginity in the 2K

NEW!

In the past, women generally had no choice over their sexuality. Unless they joined a religious order, they were supposed to remain a virgin until given in marriage, and then to produce children. But now modern women can exercise a choice, although we are disappointed to say that there are still social pressures surrounding virginity.

In the same way that having pre-marital sex could cause a girl to become the centre of a village's gossip in the past (and still does now some places, unfortunately), it seems that the news of being a virgin after your teens or early 20's is greeted with the same gasp and ridicule these days in many countries.

Besides the obvious heterocentricity of it's most common definition, there's the problematic (to me) issue of referring to sex in such qualitative terms of purity (which, as we know, is what "virgnity" means in the most basic sense), implying that sex is "impure" and that sexual inexperience in a woman is something that should be prized and valued, while a sexually experienced woman should be devalued. (Because the term "virgin" was not generally used to refer to both men and women until well into the 20th century) Why do we need to keep a term around that was basically used to assess the "value" of a woman for marriage as if she were a prize pig.

This societal connection between violent posession and sexuality is sick, but it's also, unfortunately, so incredibly pervasive that many perfectly decent, not particularly piggish men--and women--internalize it to a much greater extent than they realize. Look at all the expressions for first-time sex people use--popping the cherry, giving up the juice box, deflowering, breaking in--without even realizing the nasty, violent, and degrading undertones they have towards women and their bodies. And for men, it's even worse though not so blatant.

The pressure to have sex is huge on both genders. And there are many ways for men, women or society in general to make you feel bad for your lack of sexual experience. Calling you a frigid is one.

Now, being a virgin has nothing to do with being cold and bitter. Frigidity is obviously a term invented by men only to make women feel bad for not "giving it up". Guilt-trip. But it still works. How sad...

In a way, it's great that we no longer attach so much significance to a piece of torn membrane and that we no longer value a woman's worth according to her vagina' usefulness and use, but still, maybe virginity should be revalued: not in the meaning of physical "purity" but simply because a virgin evidently managed to somehow escape the pressure to be sexual which a lot of women everywhere, subtly or forcibly, go through..

Having first-time sex when you're fully consious of what you're doing is not bad, whether you're married or not, but having sex just because there is a deadline to your virginity or because you feel that at some stage as a woman you will have to 'give it up' is tragic. I still remember some girls in first year in Uni in Ireland who were saying how they HAD TO have their first time sex before the end of their first year. As if it was their social duty, and it didn't really matter with whom, as long as it was "taken care of", like a new rite of passage many young women evidently feel they HAVE TO go through to feel accepted.

If there is only one message you'll get from this article, we hope it will be that you don't owe sex to anyone, not even on your wedding night, and that virginity comes with no deadline and no price attached. Be proud to be a 40 year-old-virgin who didn't give in to sexual pressures or be proud to be a 20-year-old who had sex when she fully wanted it and was fully aware of its risks and implications.

No matter how old or young you are, getting to know yourself, your body, learning how to respect it, how not to allow just anyone in, to take care of it and its rhythm, will simply turn you into an aware balanced positive human being with a LOT to give.

So become a full human being first. Find your passion in life, what makes you tick. If you focus on that and start burning with passion, then whether or not you are a virgin or if you have sex will not make the slightest difference in your life .

PS A good book that really examines the phenomenon of "virginity" and first-time sex and hymens etc is

Virgin: The Untouched History by Hanne Blank

.

Blank takes a good hard look at the idea that virginity is a concept created by society, and at the idea that "losing it" should be painful. She goes into the historical and religious significance of virginity (for women), as well as how things changed when the hymen was identified.
Another interesting book is

The Male in the Head: Young People, Heterosexuality and Power Janet Holland, Caroline Ramazanoglu, Sue Sharpe and Rachel Thomson

.



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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.