When Sex Hurts – by Kate Cardwell

November 24, 2006 | 26 Comments

Vaginismus Article - Today's Christian Woman In this article published in the Nov./Dec. 2004 issue of Today's Christian Woman by our own Kate Cardwell (Kate now serves as an online counselor/moderator in our Vaginismus Community Center - Private Forums), Kate discusses her experience with Secondary Vaginismus/Dyspareunia and the impacts to her marriage:

"What happens when the process of "becoming one" in marriage brings pain, not pleasure? Or when every attempt at intercourse induces intense burning and the sensation of being torn apart inside? Many women live with an invisible handicap that robs them and their spouse of the enjoyment of sexual intercourse. It's called vaginismus, and it's possibly the most common cause of female sexual pain you've never heard of.

Commonly misdiagnosed, vaginismus is the involuntary and unconscious spasm of the muscles surrounding the vagina, making penetration painful or impossible. Estimates suggest that in North America alone, hundreds of thousands of women suffer from vaginismus to some degree. Statistics are hard to gather because many never come forward due to shame and embarrassment. Victims suffer in silence for years, never realizing they can find help.

My journey with vaginismus began 12 years ago. My husband, Brian*, and I had been married eight years when I gave birth to our second child. Labor was traumatic, and the baby was finally taken by C-section. After my recovery and with two babies in the house, my husband and I were tired but eager to resume the joy and comfort of intimacy.

Instead, sex brought anything but joy and comfort. Every time we had intercourse, I experienced intense burning pain. While I wanted to say "yes" to intimacy, my body said "no."

When my physician examined me, he found nothing physically wrong and said the pain should subside. But it didn't. In fact, it got worse. I didn't know what was happening, and fear kept me from telling Brian for two years. Many times I hid the tears. I thought if I told him, he'd be afraid to touch" Read Full Article at www.christianitytoday.com »


  1. Cardwell, K. (2004). When sex hurts. Today's Christian Woman, November/December, 62-64.
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  1. Written by: Misty | July 28th, 2007

    It has hurt me to have sex for several years now. I had an exam and was told I don't have any infections or whatever, but I never feel comfortable about asking about the pain..Truthfully, I was beginning to think it was me. (in my head) I didn't understand how it hurt so bad going in but then nothing everything felt good. The bad part is that little bit of pain in the beginning is enough to make you not wanna have sex! Which can lead to allot of uncomfortable feelings when you are with someone. After reading these articles I am convinced I am suffering from Vaginismus. I gotta admit that it feels good to know it isn't just me and that there is others who have this problem. However for me it never feels like a burning just more I don't know just painful!!! and always right at the beginning which is weird cause its barley in at all??? But then after its been inserted all the way (which takes forever because of the pain) I am fine and the pain is gone??

  2. Written by: lil | October 23rd, 2007

    i relate completely to mistys problem. i also never knew i had a problem i thot thats how sex is supposed to be. the pain for me is at the beginning of penetration then after that its fyn.its after my boyfriend also experienced pain that he discovered this website. the only relief is that its treatable tho i dont know wat to do yet!!!!!!!!!

  3. Written by: Isaac Ojeh | February 6th, 2008

    I would like to have the book I think it will me to teach others and be a better lover. Thanks

  4. Written by: sue | January 12th, 2009

    I hate have sex because of all the pain it hurts so bad I cry

  5. Written by: info1 | January 13th, 2009

    Hi Sue, Thank you for your comment. I tried to reach you by email, but my message wouldn't go through. If you would like to discuss this any further, please email us at help@vaginismus.com any time. Kind regards, Meg Customer Service

  6. Written by: I havn't had sex for 16 years, but I have two children, my husband is impotent and I love sex but I tried it with someone and it hurts like hell, and would not penetrate, what is wrong, please help | February 14th, 2009


  7. Written by: Georgia | March 6th, 2009

    When i first started having sex it hurt quite badly. So me and my partner decided to try anal sex to see if i enjoyed it more. I did, and we had anal quite often instead of girl 'girl' sex. We decided to try girl sex again, and i began to enjoy it. I got thrush a few months ago, and after that girl sex has burned me and left me in agonizing pain. We tried to have anal again but for some reason that hurts me even more. I don't know what to do, i feel so ashamed and feel like i'm letting him down :(

  8. Written by: Tia | March 7th, 2009

    The Pain Is Soo Bad When i Have Sex, I Dnt Know What Is Wrong? Pleasee Help ..

  9. Written by: jenneggd | March 19th, 2009

    Hi everyone! :D I'm new to http://www.vaginismus.com. Hope I can be a regular here!

  10. Written by: crystal | July 10th, 2009

    Hi, I have had pain during and after intercourse for several years. I have seen doctors and they are stumpted. I don't have vaginismus. I'm not tight. It definitely hurts during penetration and afterwards. I wish I had some hope to great sex.

  11. Written by: Anthony | May 1st, 2010

    My partner complains of pains during sex and after sex, what can we do to previent it?

  12. Written by: Chidumebi | June 24th, 2010

    I discoverd the tightness of my pelvic muscle last month,please the pain is really too that am afraid to have sex again,my dear please help me

  13. Written by: RJ | September 2nd, 2010

    Doctors thought I had Vaginismus but actually its a different pain to what you are talking about here. No pain on the way in, but I have pain when my partner hits the back wall meaning that he is touching the stump of my uterus following removal of my uterus during my hysterectomy years ago.

  14. Written by: Overcoming It | December 6th, 2010

    After lots of visits to the doctor I got referrered to a sexual rehabilitation nurse at the gynacology bit of the hospital. We spoke about sex and she gave me a set of 4 dialators to insert myself. It really helped. I imagine big wide open spaces when I use them and make sure they are warm and have lubricated first. I also have a warm shower before to relax me. I have started being able to have sex with my boyfriend of 3 years. Its a bit painful but not unbearable like it was before and as I learn to relax more i'm sure it will be easier. We've so far only managed twice in the past 3 months but thats real progress after 3 years. Go and see a specialist and let them give you some advice and talk to you before you start on the dialators. Good luck!

  15. Written by: Painful painful painful | March 4th, 2011

    I've been dating this guy for over 4 months now and the sex is starting to hurt soo bad, and it wasn't because I wasn't lubricated enough, or took it too fast, or I wasn't excited enough because I was all three and really wanted him inside of me. But when we tried, it hurt INCREDIBLY bad! I asked him to stick it in a little then wait and try pushing it in a little more and waiting but my body would not let him get any further in than the head. I've also realized that before the pain got so bad, instead of pulling my legs towards my body to make it easier for his to slide in I've actually kept my foot flat on the ground and squeezing my knees together because it hurt and didn't want him going any further. I wish I could go to the doctor or obg/yn and get check out, because there are a couple other things I need checked out too, but I'm 18 and I don't know the name of my doctor, don't know if my parents even have insurance, and I'm way too embarrassed to ask my mom because I can't just ask, she'll want to know why, and I can't tell her my vagina hurts when I try to have sex. And also my boobs have been EXTREMELY sore to the touch. I doubt I'm pregnant tho cuz I think I just got my period, a week early, but me and my boyfriend have been having a lot of unprotected sex lately. But back to the vagina problems, everyday I keep thinking the pain will be gone and we'll be able to have enjoyable sex again but it seems the pain keeps getting worse. I need help! I literally almost cried when it hurt SOOO bad.

  16. Written by: Kelly | September 6th, 2011

    I have been married for four years, and sex was great...until I had my first child. She was pulled out with forcups and I tore quite badly requiring many stitches. I was told to wait 6 weeks before having sex. When we next tried, It felt like I was splitting open. We waited another few months and tried again, but again it hurt worse than giving birth. He pushed all the way in and it hurt right up inside (felt like he was bruising my ovaries) as well as around that skin between the vagina and anus (where I had torn). I spoke to a doctor about this, and he told me to get drunk and try (didnt examine even tho I asked). This didnt work. The doctor then put me on anti-anxiety tablets, which also didnt work. I had another baby a year ago and hoped things would go back to normal, but no. Now my husband thinks my cries of pain are pleasure, and we only do it spooning style so I can hide the tears. I will ask the doctor if this could possibly be the problem, but still, I have lost faith in fixing this horrible problem. It even hurts days later on the inside where I cant stand upright. I hide it from the husband still. He will only blame himself.

  17. Written by: Molly m | September 14th, 2011

    I'm 18 and I've been with the same man for 2 years now and I can't have sex it hurts too much I've had sex 4 times and I just can't do it I'm so scared and they guy I'm with now I've done it with him once and I've found out I haave herpes but still I can't have sex everyone tells me to go to the doctor but I'm so scared to get a pap smear because it hurts so much I can't even have my boyfriends pinky finger in it my boyfriend is kinda getting mad but he understands and I'm just really hurt because I can't even have sex with my boyfriend the only time I want sex is on my period and I think its just so grosss so idk what to do I'm just so sad and scared. Someone please tell me what to do please u can email me at mmolly684@gmail.com

  18. Written by: Nicole | September 22nd, 2011

    I have read the other comments and it's so relieving to know that there are other women that suffers from painful intercourse and I am not alone. Just like misty I too experience pain at the beginning of intercourse and eventually everything feels fine but after me and my husband are done making love I feel really sore. I have expressed this problem to him but of course he doesn't understand. But he is very patient and understanding when it comes to taking it slow when we start! I want to know will this pain happen forever and will I ever get a break from it. I have even tried to have an alcoholic beverage before intercourse to see if that would kind of numb the pain but that doesnt even work. If there is something I could try please help me because I am sick of going through this pain. My husband has a pet name for me that I want to get rid of and that's his little virgin. I want the pain to be over ASAP!!!

  19. Written by: kirsty | February 16th, 2012

    hi i had a section in sept 09 had my son then i was ablbe to have sex after then i fell preg again had her sept 10 and since that day of section with her i cant have sex my hubby cant even get in coz i scream out it now 2012 and he still cant get in plz help me i wanna be able to enjoy my sex life but it hurts to much

  20. Written by: Name | April 2nd, 2014

    I too have very painful intercourse. I've been married five years and my husband and I haven't had intercourse in two and a half years. We still experience intimacy as we mutually masturbate each other. I am usually able to achieve orgasm this way. But it usually takes a long time. We stopped having sex because it was so painful upon entry and it stings really bad. And throughout I just don't feel anything at all. And I definitely don't orgasm. And on top of that I get a UTI every time. And both my husband and I are both extremely clean to a fault. Before I got married I was diagnosed with vaginismus. I had surgery because the doctor said my hymen was extremely tight. But even after the surgery I still can't enjoy sex because it hurts so bad. I feel so bad for my husband. Even though he tells me not to worry about it and he says he is alright. I have experienced early childhood sexual abuse. And I'm in my forties now. I don't know what to do. I feel so inadequate and ashamed. Sometimes as much as I love him, I wish he would leave me for another woman that can give him normal sex. If I could go the rest of my life without having sex I would be fine. But I wish to make my husband happy. I have communicated with him very clearly how I feel and he is very understanding. I don't know if this is linked to my early childhood trauma. I just feel like my feelings toward sex is hopeless. I really have tried and given it my all. I have even contemplated suicide. I am currently seeing a therapist and I have told her some stuff about my feelings about sex but not everything. I'm so sad about not being normal like other women who actually enjoy sex.

  21. Written by: Deborah | September 1st, 2014

    I have been married for 42 yrs to my husband. We have one son that took me 37 1/2 hours to deliver. I have Always experienced pain with intercourse. Afterwards, for several days I am raw and uncomfortable and this has always been a problem. I was diagnosed with Lupus and Sjodrens disease 3 yrs ago and I see a rheumatologist for treatment which includes many types of drugs. My body, in general, has Always been tight and very hard to relax. I have suffered in silence for 42 yrs. Should I just forget about sex. Because of the lupus my husband says he does not want to have sex because he does not want to hurt me. I will endure the pain to have the intimacy which I want and need. He does not share my bed at all and there is no affection unless I force him to hug or kiss me. I do not think he goes to someone else for sex, but he is a man and I guess I could not blame him if he did but it would break my heart. I feel useless and unfeminine and no good for anyone which causes depression. I take anti-depressants and have for yrs. I never envisioned my golden yrs to be so awful. If you advise me to grin and bear it, I will probably try. Thanks for listening. Have a pleasant evening

  22. Written by: Vincent | February 3rd, 2015

    I am a man and read so many comments up above. My wife use to in joy sex for 12 years and the last 8, I thought it was me she not want tell I read so many other woman on here who have pain and reject their partner for intercourse. - Is there any way for my wife to over come this bad problem? She finely just out right told me it burns and hurts and just don't want sex no more. Once a year to 2 for last 8 years is a form of rejection for me. (Tell to day she told me her problem.) I would be happy to just know we had it once a week. But as of now it looks like never. - I am a man and don't want to go the rest of my life being around my wife knowing a friendly kiss is it for our marriage 0f 20 years.. Please help my wife . There surely got to be something to make her come back as her old self when sex 2 times a week or more was so fun for us both.

  23. Written by: Kelly | March 17th, 2015

    I have been with my boyfriend for nearly 3 years .. I have always had on and off urinary tract infections I have seen many doctors And had so many tests but everything comes up clear and fine. It hurts to have sex as soon as it goes in it feels like razor blades .. I always get a burning pain during sex and it gets really hot and I need to pee all the time ... it's just not enjoyable I've tried everything if someone has an answer that would be really helpful!

  24. Written by: jane | March 29th, 2015

    I have this condition can anyone recommend any treatment or things that help?I cry with pain so we are no longer intimate,i don't wish this to damage our marriage :(

  25. Written by: Name | April 26th, 2015

    I've been with my boyfriend for 3 years now ... And the last year and bit is on and off with painful intercourse mostly all the time. For the first year sex was great and there was never really any problems .. I always got a few urinary tract infections now and then and id go to the doctors and get a tablet to take and it would all be fine again. But now I have this constant problem going to the toilet all the time I always need to pee even if I have just gone I will need to go again seconds it's so annoying and frustrating I've been to so many doctors and even a gynaecologist and no one seems to really care or know what's the problem is and just brushes me off.. I have been giving all types of different antibiotics, cranberrie tablets and even more urinary tract prescriptions and it just doesn't help! During intercourse as soon as it goes in it hurts so much it's like razor blades and it stings then near the bottom of my vagina it swells up and burns. I have had tests over and over again for HIV , herpes , thrush , Utis ect and it comes Back clear .... I just don't understand it has become such a big thing and I just wish it would go away!! Or I could at least find get answers

  26. Written by: patty | May 21st, 2015

    Having sex is scary but one can't survive without it


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