The following stories are fictionalized representations of real vaginismus experiences to assist women in determining if they have the condition:
(For real-life accounts of women who have experienced vaginismus see feedback.)
Jill - "For 17 months we have suffered with the embarrassing humiliation of not being able to have sex after getting married. We waited until after our wedding for sex, only to have the worst honeymoon I could ever imagine, one where sex was impossible. We saw doctors as soon as we could and the recommendation was for surgery to open my vagina and hymen entrance so it would be large enough. We consented and within weeks the surgery was performed. After a long time of healing, I felt I was ready to try again, only to find out that it was still impossible to get him inside me. Even after they surgically widened me, sex has still been impossible due to pain and tightness. How can this be?"
Burning and tightness from no apparent cause
Lynn - "We've been married for nine years and have two great kids. Unfortunately, family responsibilites and high stress jobs really cut into our together time. Exhaustion makes sex seem like an extra chore - just one more thing to do that we don't have time to enjoy and now can't. I don't know if it's from the busy, stressful lifestyle or not, or from being 'out of practice', but about a year ago intercourse began to really hurt. It started with a burning sensation some of the time during sex. I found myself getting more anxious that it would hurt again and it usually did. Trips to the doctor revealed little besides the standard 'do more foreplay or use more lubricant' advice. Now it seems like my body just 'tightens up' and we can hardly have sex at all. Entry is painful and besides burning I feel tightness spasms, discomfort and anxiety. The pleasure is gone, and there is only the expectation of discomfort and frustration. Our marriage is suffering and it feels like a deep chasm is growing between us as sex has become impossible. My husband and I fight a lot more and I know he is growing impatient. I don't want my children to be another statistic of divorce because of this. I just don't know what to do."
A huge disappointment
Melissa - "I am a twenty-eight-year-old married teacher, yet I still feel like a child. My high school students are always talking about how great sex is. I get angry and wonder why they are able to have sex so easily. They're just sleeping around and don't even care about each other. It's not fair that it's so hard for me. My husband does not understand my pain, and I think he might leave me if I do not get help soon. There is this huge disappointment in our lives, and so far we have been unable to share it with anyone."
Problems after menopause
Rachel - "I knew health changes come with getting older, but this is crazy! I started going through menopause in my mid-40's and my hormones have been wacky ever since. My husband and I always had a great sexual relationship and we were anxious to take it to an even higher level after our children graduated from high school. That's when the hormone attack hit! I experienced vaginal dryness and even though we used lubricant, intercourse still hurt and it felt almost like my vagina had "shrunk". My doctor says this is normal for an aging woman (ahhhhh ? I did not want to hear that) but I know women who have very active sex lives well into their 60's, 70's and beyond! I can't give up at 48 years old! But the older I get, the more I hate sex. It just seems so complicated."
As soon as he moves it feels uncomfortable
Veronica - "After two years of marriage you would think that we would be over this by now. With some effort, we have been able to get him inside, but as soon as he tries to move it feels uncomfortable and I feel a pang of pain that forces us to stop. Our local physician recommended we use more lubricant, but it barely makes any difference. After examination by a specialist I've been told that everything looks fine, and yet obviously there is a problem. Believe me: I am not a 'nutcase' - I truly want to be intimate and start working on a family. I just need somebody to help me figure out what is wrong!"
Feeling like a failure
Samantha - "I feel like a failure. Why can't I have sex? The worst part is how it has affected my relationship with Dave, my husband of over four years. I have never been able to let him inside me and yet I so desire to be close in that way and to return his love. The fear of being molested so many years ago keeps surfacing. Could this be the problem? I have unhealthy thoughts about myself and feel trapped. My mom teases and pressures me about starting a family, but how can I even get pregnant?"
Both virgins when married - and still virgins now
Julie - "We were both virgins and waited until marriage to have intercourse. But on our honeymoon we were surprised and disappointed to find that we just could not seem to consummate. I had always suspected that my vagina was too small, because I could never insert a tampon (no matter how hard I tried). A trip to my doctor was so embarrassing. She callously told me that I just needed to try harder. We have now tried countless times, yet any attempt to push the penis inside fails and causes burning pain. It just does not seem to fit. Nothing that I have read about sex says anything about this. What can I do?"
Problems after giving birth
Lindsay - "I've always been 'health-conscious' and active. We had a caring, fun sexual relationship until the birth of our daughter. The delivery was relatively normal, although painful, and the doctor was careful when he sewed up a small tear. They say I'm fully healed with no noticable scarring, but now my body tightens up when we try to get him in and it's just not comfortable. Although the gynecologist has examined me and says everything is fine, it's like my body is saying something is wrong. Something must be wrong because I'm healthy and there's no logical reason for this. We have a beautiful baby girl and I feel like I can't even enjoy her because of our sex life problems. I just want to get back to the way it was before."
Should I take another chance?
Amy - "I am excited about a new guy in my life. I would just love to develop a closer relationship with him. Yet, I wonder why any man would want me when I can't even have sex. My last boyfriend got tired of waiting around and left. That was three years ago. Should I take another chance? How and when should I tell him about the vaginismus? I just do not know if I could handle the pain and rejection of another broken relationship. Sometimes it just seems easier to be alone."
Jack - "We have been in counseling for three years trying to find out why Diana cannot seem to have intercourse. We are emotionally exhausted and financially strapped. It feels like all we do is 'talk, talk, talk' while our lives are passing us by. Sex still is not happening and I question our future together. We love and care for each other deeply, but this is tearing us apart. I wonder if there is something physically wrong, yet the doctor ruled out any problem. The counselor thinks something in Diana's clouded past is causing the condition but cannot seem to draw it out. We try hard to maintain a cheery disposition and keep up appearances that everything is fine, but it is not."
Problems after husband's affair
Amanda - "The worst day of my life was the day I found out my husband was having an affair. After six years of marriage, I was devastated because I really thought we had a trusting relationship. Amazingly, he broke off the relationship with this other woman and said he wanted us to try again. We went through some counseling to restore our marriage. God has worked miracles in our relationship and we seem to be on the path to healing in all but one area - sex. I'm finding it really hard to trust him with my most intimate self. I picture him with this other woman and I shut down emotionally. Every time we have sex, it stings and burns really bad. I haven't even told my husband about it because I don't want to disappoint him. Many nights I lay there and cry when we are done because it hurts - physically and emotionally. I mentioned it to my doctor once but he couldn't find anything wrong on the exam (which was painful by the way) and thought maybe we still needed to work through some issues. A few weeks ago, we couldn't have sex at all and I just told him maybe it was because I was too tired. Since then, I have avoided him but I feel so much pressure because of what happened in the past. He really has changed and we love each other. I don't want to lose him again."
Problems related to sex pain from endometriosis
Ashley - "Sex never has been very comfortable for me but there have been times when it was better than others. I had endometriosis and when the flare-ups were bad, sex hurt a lot. The doctor said if I had a hysterectomy it would clear up the endometriosis and I might be able to lead a more normal life. I had the surgery three years ago but even though I feel fine and there is no more scarring, penis entry or movement causes burning and pain. I don't get it. I shouldn't have any more female issues because the problem was removed, yet it seems like my vagina is always tightening up with intercourse attempts. My husband is very patient but how much longer can he wait? He didn't sign up for this. There must be something I can do!"
Problems after surgery
Tracey - "We enjoyed a normal sex life until after complications arising from pelvic surgery. Long after my body had healed, my husband was no longer able to penetrate. It was almost as though there was a wall where the opening had been. It would hurt whenever we tried, even though the doctors said there was no longer anything physically wrong. A specialist suggested that I might have vaginismus. Can this be treated or am I destined to be this way forever?"
Problems after rape
Desiree - "I'm 24 years old and have never been married. However, I've had a few close relationships in which I enjoyed sex very much. When I was 22, I went out with a jerk who forcibly raped me at the end of night. I still remember lying there feeling dirty and used. Since then, I've dated a few guys but I've usually been afraid to get very close. But, three months ago I met someone different; a wonderful man that I think I may be in love with. We tried to have sex a few times but I was surprised to find out that it just wouldn't work. I don't get it! Sex was fine before I was attacked, but now I've met someone really special and I can't seem to do it. Could it have something to do with the rape?"