Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Psych Wars

So I found pelvic floor therapy very helpful, soothing and comforting but there's a couple of issues:

1) The cost is prohibitive
2) I really didn't like doing my homework. I was supposed to work with the dilators, just slowly twisting them in and inserting them and I could not muster up the desire or will to do that every day on a consistent basis.

I am now in a bad place. My husband and I have tried to make love three different times and each time I am in his arms like a limp fish, just hanging out there sadly. I love cuddling and I love feeling close to him but I seem to have no sexual desire or excitement. I feel like my feelings have been cut off and put into some sort of little box somewhere in my body that I cannot reach, uncover or open. So there I am, naked with him and feeling obligated to make love to him because after all, I'm his wife and we've only had sex once this month...and it just doesn't work. He'll try to arouse me and I won't even be wet. It's like my brain has decided: To hell with all of this. I want a platonic marriage and that's it.

Obviously this isn't good. I don't know what's going on with the seperation of the emotions and them being banished to some little box I can't open. I don't know why I feel no desire (it might have to do with feeling resentment toward my husband because of the obligation where I'm *supposed* to be having sex with him when I feel like penetration ALWAYS hurts). Basically, though, this is probably the point at which I need to find a sex therapist and see whether there's anything they can do to help me. More prohibitive costs coming up soon.

Happy Chanukah.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Today I saw Breaking Dawn, the fourth in the Twilight installment. As I was watching it, I felt like it weirdly related to me. Edward is all worried about hurting Bella with his superior strength. He bruises her when he has sex with her and feels terrible about it. Unfortunately for him, he also impregnates her with a baby that tries to kill her (not on purpose). Basically, though, the whole issue of vampire strength being too strong for fragile woman person is kind of similar to husband's penetration of me being too painful. I mean, it's obviously not exactly the same but it's kind of similar.

So this probably explains why I am a sucker for these vampire movies. I am fragile woman person and my husband is possibly-pain-inducing vampire man. And I'm attracted to how these fragile women nevertheless manage to become survivors. (And of course how they love their men). I guess I think the relationship between physical fragility and inner strength is interesting.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pelvic Floor Therapy

Today was my first session at the pelvic floor therapy. It went really well. I feel like I have my hope back.

The nice lady (her name was Katie) asked me about all my symptoms and then explained a bit about the pelvis and how pelvic floor therapy works. Basically the pelvis has a LOT of muscles and they are made out of skeletal tissue, which means that just as you get kinks and knots in your shoulders, you can get kinks and knots in the muscles by the pelvis. But there's more to it in that. If anything is out of alignment, it can push something else out of alignment and cause dysfunction or pain. Basically all the organs in the pelvic region are meant to slide past each other as you move or breathe and if they don't, there can be pain.

She did an external exam and then an internal exam of me. For the external exam, she had me stand, sit and lie down on the bed. She examined my thigh muscles, pressing carefully along my legs. It was fascinating because she found these trigger points of pain in my thighs that made me cry out. She explained that this comes about in most women who have sexual pain, because part of what happens when we tighten is we clamp the thigh muscles together. Anyway, she worked on smoothing, massaging and unknotting those trigger points of pain in the thighs.

Once she had finished with that, she got to my internal exam. She explained that there are three layers of muscle in the vagina. We found that my pain was largely concentrated in the muscles in the middle of the figure 8. The figure 8 is made by imagining it twining around the urethra/vagina as one opening and your anus as the other. You can trace a figure 8 around these. The muscles in the middle of the figure 8 (I think the perineal ones? by the perineum?) are the culprit in my case. They are what are causing me so much pain.

The amazingly cool part was that just by moving my muscles with her hand (manually manipulating them) she was able to make that pain much much less so that I almost couldn't feel it. Basically she was contorting the pelvic muscles manually to slacken them and once they were slackened the muscles were no longer screaming pain pain pain in my brain but were tricked into feeling fine. Taking deep breaths and letting out my tension also relaxed me further.

She gave me some stuff to work on (to help relax me and also to work on the thigh muscles that were so tight). I'm supposed to practice diaphragmatic breathing, the butterfly position (knees bent and feet together, like in gym class in school) and also leaning on one leg while having the other one bent and then vice versa.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


I've been having a lot of trouble of late with 'shoulds' and 'musts.' My brain is all about 'you should be having sex with your husband a lot more often than you are choosing to have sex. You are not a good wife if you do not do this.' The other part of me is feeling exhausted, unhappy and frustrated and is sitting there saying: This hurts. It does not make sense to do something that hurts you. Plus, I feel like by now I hate sex- I hate everything about it- the fact that it's like a chore I'm supposed to do and I hate the stickiness and I just hate everything.

I've also been trying to figure out what exactly the pain is about. What I've discovered is the pain specifically happens upon initial insertion/ penetration and sometimes also when my husband withdraws (especially if he's still hard when doing so). It's almost like there's a ring of something there that really hurts. We've also discovered that different lubricants make a difference. KY Jelly and plain olive oil really work well for us; Astroglide is awful.

Anyway, I made an appointment with the pelvic floor therapist but now I am frustrated because they have this rule that I need to be referred by an MD. So that's annoying because this is a private situation that I am dealing with and it's very upsetting to me that I potentially have to reveal what's going on to yet another person just so that they can write me a stupid referral. I think that is unfair. Hopefully I can just get in touch with my gyencologist and have her refer me, but it's still very annoying.

But then comes the good times, after all this complaining...the times when I'm not exhausted and feeling like this is a chore I'm supposed to do in good wifely fashion, the times when I'm actually excited and aroused by my husband, the times when we're both in tune and those times go well...except for the initial penetration part of the scenario.

I think a major issue for people in my situation is that we have no idea what it is to look forward to. I'm expending all this effort and energy just to try to get sex to not hurt. I have no idea what it's like when it's actually enjoyable. And it's hard to keep working on this when you have no idea what you are working TOWARD. What am I trying to get to? What is an enjoyable sex life like? I have no idea.

But at least I do know what shared intimacy and love is like, and hopefully that's enuogh to buoy me up in the meantime.

Monday, October 17, 2011


It was my mikvah night. I got all made up, put on sexy lingerie, pretty jewelery and so on. But inwardly I'm cringing.

Not the start of this pain....again, is what I think.

But I go home and then suddenly I slip into a role. I'm role-playing. I feel detached from myself, from my body, from my actions. I watch my hand touch my husband's shoulder and I feel like I'm seeing someone else do it. The sense of wanting, of yearning, of creating a connection with him through this action- was totally not there. Instead, I felt like whatever I was doing I was doing by rote and I was doing it because I had to and because it was expected of me. I trailed my hand over his body because I had to and kissed him because I had to and basically watched myself do things, not because I wanted to but because I had to.

My husband, Hashem bless him, realized that I was somewhere very far away and distant from where I should be and didn't push me. We cuddled and I fell asleep. I woke up and noticed the candles were still burning so I blew them out.

And suddenly there in the fuzzy half-sleep I was in, everything was back. The emotional connection? Whoom. The wanting my husband? Also whoom. Back to my normal self, not the detached self. So we took advantage and as usual penetration hurt. I've been trying to get in touch with a pelvic floor therapist but she hasn't been returning my calls. It's frustrating.

But the whole detached, role-playing, I'm doing this because I have to and not because I want to scenario that started off our evening? That sucked. That was bad. I don't know what that's about but I didn't like it.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Everyone wants a husband who loves them to the moon and back.
I'm lucky enough to actually have one.

So when I sit here thinking and considering, I want to thank God for my blessings as well.

This painful sex thing may suck and it may be a royal drag, but the godly person that my husband is comes shining through because of it. How many other men would curl around their non-functional spouses and whisper sweet nothings in their ears and mean them, too? How many other men would stick around for this soap opera? How many other men would agree to do whatever it takes, whether it means visiting doctors or therapists or reading sex books or whatnot in order to help me out?

How many other men would deal with being really aroused and having their wife turn them away? And do it with good grace and without turning it into a blamefest?

My man has such a deep, pure, loving heart and for some reason it's easier for me to trust it, to see it and to feel it when I'm alone at home just thinking quietly. It's so much harder to do when I'm actually with him. But that will come with time.

It might also have to do with having an audience for my embarrassment. It's hard to be totally out there sexually or otherwise when the one you're with knows of this deeply personal and embarrassing failure on your part to have a normal sex life. And also knows the problem isn't with him but rather, with you. If I were a man, I'd be feeling emasculated. Since I'm a woman, guess I'm just feeling de-sexified.

How can I think of myself as the free spirit that I was- trusting, open, laughing, free and sexually adventurous (within the bounds of Judaism, obviously)- when the person my body is making me be is so much more withdrawn, shy, upset and worried that I'll just never be able to make this whole sex thing work and be pleasurable? It's a conundrum I don't have the answer to. There's the confident me and then the totally undone-hanging-off-the-hinges version.

My husband claims that he still sees me as a sex goddess, which might be him just trying to make me feel better but also might be the truth because it seems like no matter what I do I am still cherished in his eyes.

It strikes me that we are living a very private and very twisted version of a love story, where the enemy isn't Romeo or the Capulets but my own body. And when we win we'll have triumphed over it. Weird.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


So while the consummation of our marriage was a great first step, I'm getting tired of sex always meaning pain. Either it means pain that comes from inserting the dilators before we have sex, or it means the pain of my husband inserting his penis and moving it around when we ARE having sex. (Oh, by the way, that was a big step- we graduated to being able to have sex without prepping with dilators first. My reasoning was, if it's going to hurt either way, I'd rather we had the spontaneity part still and you can penetrate me rather than a piece of plastic).

I'm looking into pelvic floor therapy. Maybe they will be able to help me to relax my muscles so that penetration does not equate with pain.

My poor husband feels horrible because he wants to be intimate with me but he knows that that means pain for me. He feels selfish. (I tell him he isn't and it's totally natural for a husband to want to sleep with his wife.) I feel like a horrible wife because I turn him away and we only get two weeks a month anyway to be intimate because of the whole Niddah thing.

This Rosh Hashana I prayed that we be able to fix this so that sex was not something I dreaded but rather a good and happy thing like it is in other people's marriages. I feel really down about this. Before I got married I was such a sexual creature. I loved petting and necking and kissing and all that stuff and was excited about going further. Who knew it would turn into a nightmare?

I just wish I could be a better wife to my husband.

Monday, August 15, 2011


So even though I knew it couldn't be helped, I had been feeling a little bit sad that a dilator, which is just a piece of plastic, broke my hymen rather than my husband. Obviously he is still my first and I gave that first experience as a gift to him, but I had been feeling a bit sad about it.

That was until I found the Midrash Aggadah Bereishit (Buber edition) Chapter 24. It's talking about when Rivkah saw Yitzchok and she fell off the camel.

סימן סד [ סד ] ותפל מעל הגמל . נפילה ממש, ובאותה נפילה איבדה בתוליה. הרהרה שראתה בעלה ולפיכך נפלה:

 סימן סז [ סז ] האהלה שרה אמו . שמצאה כשרה כאמו, ואמרו חז"ל כי על שרה שהיה ענן קשור על אוהלה, וכשהיתה מדלקת נירות בערב שבת, היו הנרות דולקות עד מוצאי שבת, וכן רבקה, וכסה הענן לאהל שרה, כשמתה שרה נסתלק הענן וכשבאתה רבקה חזר הענן, וכשם שהיתה שרה זהירה בשלשה מצות שהאשה חייבת בהם, נדה וחלה והדלקת הנר, כך היתה רבקה זהירה:

ויש אומרים שלא מצאה בתולה שחשד באילעזר /באליעזר/, אמרה רבקה חלילה שלא שכב עמי אליעזר, אבל מפני הנפילה שנפלתי אבדתי בתולתי, ונקום ונלך למקום ההוא שנפלתי, ואולי יעשה ה' נס ותמצא שם דם בתולים, וכן עשו, הלכו ומצאו הדם על עץ אחד, והיתה מוכת עץ, והדם היה גבריאל שומרו שלא יאכל ממנו לא עוף ולא חיה, ולפי שחשד לאליעזר על חנם, והוא עשה שליחות אברהם באמונה, זכה שיכנס לגן עדן חי:

Basically what happened here according to a Rabbi I asked who explained it to me is that when Rivkah fell she was wounded and bled so when Yitzchok had relations with her, she had no signs of virginity. Suspicion fell on Eliezer (that maybe he had slept with her and that was why). But when they went back to the place where she fell and they saw the blood that supported the fact that she had hurt herself, all was well and everyone understood that Rivkah had always been pure after all.

So if Yitzchok can marry someone who lost her virginity falling off of a camel and wounding herself and she is one of our Imahos, then I can definitely have "lost my virginity" to a plastic dilator and still be in good company.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Be In A Documentary!

So Anna Rodzinski at PSG Films is working on doing a documentary about virginity (exciting, right?) They've already filmed part of it and are now looking to focus on...you got it, unconsummated relationships. She is looking for a married couple in the US or UK who is working towards consummating their marriage but who have not done so yet to. They are specifically looking for a woman who has vaginismus or vulvadynia.

PSG Films is happy to pay for part of your therapy as you work towards consummating your marriage, so that's a bit of what you get (aside from making sure this issue receives further attention in the media) if you allow yourself to be filmed.

Her contact information is:

Anna Rodzinski

If you are able to talk about this issue publicly/ share your story via this documentary, I urge you to do so.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


We figured out something that works, is enjoyable and that makes me feel sexy. The imagination is a wonderful tool.

-I took the advice of one of the commenters here who separated dilation completely from foreplay. I did my dilation for 40 minutes (20 with large dilator, 20 with the dildo) while my husband took a shower. Then I put on my lingerie/negligee, had him come into the room and so on and the good times began. The separation mentally between the two different states (off state where I relax and just dilate, on state with my husband) worked really well.

-I found that the addition of a pair of really high sexy heels to my normal outfit made me feel more in control and overall more dominant. The power rush was liberating. This heightened my ability to feel sexy as well. I'm sharing this only because it might work for someone else in my position.

-We also made sure the bedroom had candles, soft towels, delicious smelling body butters and other good stuff as always.

I'm (or I could say we're) quite happy with the results of our experimentation.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Despite the fact that many people have been supportive and helpful to me by email, it makes sense to me that nobody else has really written publicly about this subject. Yeah, sometimes people post up on the ImaMother boards or ATIME but that's not a whole record of their experiences.

The reason why is it's hard to be judged by everyone.

At least I'm anonymous. But it's pretty horrible for so many people to completely misunderstand my situation and sit here calling my problems 'awful,' me 'abnormal', my perspective 'skewed,' or otherwise be telling me that I'm stupid, wonder how it's possible I didn't know stuff that to them seems basic. Leaving aside the people who just laugh at my whole situation and think that a bottle of wine would be the magic pill.

That's aside from the many people who have postulated that me and my husband will always have problems because of this and that we are otherwise messed up.

It's weird how it seems so hard for the average person to just be compassionate, be happy this is a problem you don't have and be supportive. If your friend had cancer you would do that. But instead of that a lot of you blame me and just make me feel more and more defective. I'm feeling bad enough already. Why do you need to add to it.

It's not like I'm a product that you can just take back to the shop and say, I'd like to return it.

A lot of you could stand to learn from Taanis 20a-b.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Someone on the ImaMother boards linked to this Shani Taragin shiur on Intimacy.

I listened to the shiur. A lot of it is good and some of it I don't agree with. But since most of it is good, I wanted to suggest that all Kallot or future Kallot listen to it as a lot of it is useful/ accurate. She even mentions vaginitis (although I think she might have meant vaginismus). She believes in giving her Kallot a lot of information about everything she can expect, including a blow-by-blow account of how things will most likely go down on the first night, which is something I agree with entirely. I also like that she tells the Kallot about sexual intimacy in the middle of their lessons rather than waiting to the very end, so that she can ask questions.

I don't agree with her that women will feel some amount of pleasure if she's already moisturized/ lubricated. It could be not painful but I wouldn't call it pleasurable. That might also be because of my particular situation, though.

One thing I dislike a lot: She's machmir about saying that according to the Ramah you can engage in sex in any position as long as there is no shivchas zerah levatala. But she ignores the other approach of Rabbeinu Tam which the Ramah quotes. My posek and many poskim disagree with her understanding of the Ramah and say there CAN be shivchas zera as long as it is bderech akrai (not on a regular basis). And when it comes to people who have vaginismus or other sexual issues, there can be shivchas zerah all the time (masturbation of the husband by hand, for instance or orally) because at that point there is simply no way for there to be penetration of the woman. And I can refer you to my posek if you need a similar psak.

I also found this post called "The Wedding Night Nightmare by Anonymous" (it was also on the ImaMother boards.) I felt like I could totally understand where she was coming from...then I realized that she actually posted on this blog with the Help for PVV email. I hope people contact her and she can help them.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


So I'm back to being blue.

We were so happy about the consummation, the penetrative non-painful sex and all that. But then I stopped doing the 10 minutes of dilation every day, thinking that I could just do that before we actually had sex. We tried that and we realized: no go. Pain is back. I need to stretch those muscles every day consistently.

What's worse is that when we did try to have sex that time (when I just stretched the muscles immediately before) I couldn't move to help him or interact with him at all because I was in pain. Not excruciating pain like before but still unpleasant. So I just lay there like a dead fish. It got better toward the end when I guess my body had become used to him and was also more lubricated.

When I checked afterward, there were little tiny papercuts around my vagina. That was why his semen had hurt me; it had burned when it made contact with the cuts (which were bleeding, by the way). I'm not sure what causes the cuts. Maybe vaginal dryness, but that would be weird because after all we do use a lot of lubricant.

I also don't feel attractive or sexy anymore. It's a huge mood-killer when you have to lie in bed and dilate yourself for 10 minutes with the large size dilator and another 10 minutes with the dildo before you can even begin thinking about making love to your husband. And your husband also has to sit there for 20 minutes or so just waiting for the good stuff to start. I mean, yes, he could engage in foreplay while I'm dilating but it's a bit hard to do because when I first insert the dilator I'm in pain and not really interested in kisses.

We are still hugely happy we consummated our marriage and we're glad that we know that it is possible to have pain-free sex. My husband is an angel. I'm the one who gets all weepy and tells him I know he's going to leave me and this isn't what he imagined when he married me and how am I supposed to look forward to sex when it hurts me. And he cuddles with me and says it'll be okay, we're going to get there and of course it makes sense I don't want to have sex when it's painful.

I guess I feel disappointed because I had thought once we had gotten to the goal of consummating the marriage it would all be better but it isn't yet. Hopefully soon.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


My husband bought me white roses, just like those that had made up my wedding bouquet.

He bought me a beautiful card that said 'To a special lady on a special day' that spoke about how much he loved and cherished me.

We both said the Yom Kippur Vidui where we asked God to forgive our sins, just like we said on the day of our wedding at the Mincha afternoon prayers.

We lit beautiful scented candles in our bedroom.

Then we dilated me with the large dilator and the dildo, 10 minutes each. We made it into a bit of a game, incorporating it into foreplay.

And then we slipped him inside me. And tears started in his eyes. Because he was in me. And I was smiling. And he wasn't hurting me.

And then we made love. Pain-free, happy, all consuming love. And we cried in each others' arms. Because this was holy and our marriage now bound us in a new and important way. And because we were letting go of the pain and walking into a new life, a new world of possibilities.

A world where our marriage was whole.
And consummated.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


So we are getting closer to our inevitable goal...which is the happy consummation of our marriage.

In short, on the LaMotte scale (no clue how to spell that) they use to evaluate people, their pain and how severe their vaginismus is, I am way at the bottom end of the scale with just a 1 or a 2. So I do have vaginismus and I do tense up, but it's nothing like the more common forms of the issue which have people jumping off the tables or flinching away from the slightest touch, involuntary clamping not only of the muscles but of the legs etc; I have relatively easy vaginismus.

Last session we were able to insert the size Large dilator into me and I'm supposed to practice with that but also the penis dildo/ dong which is meant to be a bit bigger than my husband. That's on purpose because if I can fit the dildo in, I can definitely fit my husband.
Anyway, it's very likely I'm going to be totally cured in just three sessions. Next time being my graduation session where they discuss first-time sex positions with us and so on. Ridiculous, right? A year and a half of woe and misery all cured in just three hours (well, and all the practice time I spend on the dilators at home).

(By the way, this isn't the norm, so if you're in therapy and it takes a lot longer, don't worry- you can still get there!)

It doesn't hurt that we had the bracha of a really big rabbi who is known to accomplish amazing things just before we started this therapy as well.

But wow. It's crazy how close we are.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Talli Rosenbaum sent me an awesome booklet that dispels all sorts of myths on virginity. It also has clear diagrams. It's really great.

You can download the English version here (just scroll down). I think everyone should read it.

The packet begins with the following words:
    Known by the established term "hymen," the vaginal corona is the subject of many myths and misunderstandings. The most important of these is the notion that a woman's vaginal opening is covered by a membrane that ruptures on penetration. This is incorrect. There is no such membrane. RFSU wishes to dispel the myths and promote knowledge of the true facts. In this booklet, we aim to give you a more accurate idea of what you will find just inside the vaginal opening of every woman.
If a whole packet has to be written to dispel these myths, I am far from being the only person who thought them. Other myths include the idea that you shouldn't ride a bike or a horse because that might "break the hymen"- per this packet, untrue, because "the vaginal corona isn't a brittle membrane, physical exercise doesn't affect it."

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I'm pretty sure I broke my hymen with the dilators.

I'll ask the lady when I go to my next appointment, but I'm pretty sure.
And it didn't hurt.
And I'm furious.

Because now I understand why I got vaginismus. It did have a psychological factor. It was a psychological factor caused by poor instruction by kallah teachers and gynecologists alike.

It came from the following erroneous descriptions: flap of skin and breaking the hymen.

The hymen is not a flap of skin. Neither does one break through it.

The hymen is, in fact, a ring of skin/ tissue around the vaginal opening (which already exists). When a man's penis enters you, he is simply widening or otherwise stretching the opening. In doing this, he may tear it slightly so that your once perfectly circular opening now has a bit of a jagged appearance. But it doesn't hurt and it's nothing like the ordeal that I thought I would have to face.

You see, when people told me the hymen was a flap of skin or a flap of tissue, I literally believed it WAS a flap.

So I pictured a little square of tissue, kind of like flesh-colored saran wrap but a bit thicker. It was tacked over my vaginal opening, attached on top and attached on bottom. It wasn't attached on the sides, which is how my menstrual blood could leak out. And when I was told my husband would break my hymen, I literally pictured him powering through this supposed "flap" of skin or tissue with his penis, using a lot of force in order to break it. It'd be like piercing an earlobe with a needle, except he'd be piercing my hymen with his penis. And just like you bleed when the earlobe is pierced, I figured I'd bleed after he'd ripped through the flap.

Is it any wonder that I would seize up in totally terrified fear and pain when my husband would try to penetrate me? I had incredibly frightening thoughts of him having to pummel through my hymen at high speed in order to get up the necessary force to smash through and rip that tissue away. That flap of skin haunted my dreams.

Try as I might, I couldn't find it, though. I saw the opening, I felt the pain but I didn't see the "flap." So I just figured it must be somewhere deeper down than I could see. I also thought this more recently, when I was able to put my finger inside. I figured I can fit my finger in but I'm still a virgin, I guess that flap of skin must just be further down still (it's kind of funny in retrospect, I sort of conflated the hymen with the cervix). My gynecologist (the first one I saw, the one who made me feel like a freak) just added to my fear when she told me that it's better if the husband just bams on through because it's easier on the girls that way.

Please tell me: why in God's name do we use misnomers like "flaps" of skin or tissue or "breaking" through the hymen when that is simply not what happens?

There's a ring of tissue around the vaginal opening. That ring is the hymen. When the penis penetrates, it widens and sometimes tears that ring, causing the opening to now look a bit more jagged. The End. Not scary at all.

But instead I wasted a year and a half of my life being terrified with that terror just being added to by the gynos and first therapist I saw.

I found these pictures online of the hymen in different stages (as a virgin, when one has had some sexual activity, when one has had a child etc) and they're really helpful in terms of demonstrating how the hymen is a ring, not a flap.

Maybe I'm the only one who took what I was told really literally and envisioned a real flap of skin. Maybe I'm just particularly stupid. But I don't think it helps anyone when the educators themselves are using misnomers and erroneous terms that lead people to get a really wrong idea about stuff.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Today's appointment at the Center for Female Sexuality was TERRIFIC.

It was awesome. It was amazing. It was inspiring. It was fabulous.

I went to the office in Manhattan. It is a little office on the seventh floor of a nice official-looking building. It is nice and innocuous; not imposing or scary at all.

First, they explained to me how payment works. The deal is they have a certain amount of money that they submit to the insurance as what they think their procedure is worth. So let's say the Center says vaginal dilation is worth $500. The insurance evaluates and tells them how much they think the procedure is worth. Let's say the insurance thinks vaginal dilation is only worth $100. You only have to pay whatever amount is left over after the insurance pays their portion of what they think the procedure was worth- you're only paying what is left over out of that $100. So just hope your insurance estimates a low cost for procedures and you're home clear.

After I filled out some paperwork and surveys, I went inside into a nice room with a round table and three chairs and a window and a bunch of very interesting books about sex to meet Barbara Gross. Barbara is a sexual counselor and she asked me to explain my sexual history and background to her. It was like a therapy session where I just explained and gave background and she asked some more details in order to clarify some things I had said. Barbara is really understanding, compassionate, kind and supportive. I had a great time with her. She even complimented me on stuff and she made me feel totally normal about everything. She says we'll work together on my vaginismus.

After I had finished the psych evaluation regarding my sexual life and history, I went with Kathleen, who is either a nurse or a physician's assistant, and she did a basic physical on me. She took my blood pressure, did a breast exam, had me breathe in and out and listened and then she checked if I had vulvar vestibulytis by taking a Q-tip and swabbing me very gently around my vulva to see if it hurt, which it didn't. Then she worked on dilating me. We started with the smallest dilator- she took it out of a box (it was brand new) and cleaned it and put gel on it and then told me exactly what she was going to do before she did it. I didn't tense up AT ALL. We were able to put THREE of the dilators (sizes Small, Small Plus, and Medium) into me and I only tensed up a teeny-tiny bit the last time, nothing like what it was like with my husband or the two fingers.

I took home four dilators- sizes Small, Small Plus, Medium and Medium Plus. She wants my husband to practice inserting the Small one into me and out of me so that he can understand the angles and not be worried about hurting me because he'll see for himself it doesn't hurt me. The Small Plus I'm supposed to insert into myself and move around and up and down. The Medium I am supposed to dilate with- just let it sit inside me for 10 minutes while it opens me. If I can work my way up to the Medium Plus, that's good, but if not, that's also okay. She'll just work with me the next time I see her.

There are only seven sizes of dilators so I'm already halfway there! They use a dildo for the last size and it looks like a man's penis. I think that's smart because it allows you not to feel frightened because if THAT can fit inside you, then your husband definitely can!

Kathleen mentioned that a lot of times women buy the dilators on their own and they can't get them in, only to come to the Center and with their help, suddenly they can. Sometimes having that person there as a support and an extra push can really help. I asked her how she got involved with the Center and she said she and some of the other women at the Center had worked for Planned Parenthood and then had also moved here. She's really dedicated to this job- she commutes 2 hours to get there!

What was really nice about Barbara was I told her how I felt about how all the Hasidic and Charedi couples can figure sex out and have kids in a year or so and she said that's actually not true. A ton of these couples come to see these people in the Center because they need help. What's nice about Barbara is she can be as open or not open as you need her to be. If you are into using vibrators and experimenting, she'll help you with that. And if you just want dilators for intercourse and no frills, she'll do that for you. She won't try to put her point of view on you, and that's really nice.

Basically I'm super psyched and excited to do my homework working with the dilators this week (which I bought- they cost $15 each) and I'm looking forward to the day that me and my amazing husband are going to have gloriously amazing sex.

Another thing- using the dilators means at some point I'm going to break my hymen myself, most likely (just because of the insertion and penetration of the things). Once that's out of the way, any remaining fear I have will likely disappear.

I feel really blessed that my vaginismus case isn't as severe as some other people's. I feel like there's a light at the end of this tunnel and I recommend that anyone who isn't seeing progress goes to see the people at this Center because they are great and this visit was nothing like that other one I had been on which just traumatized me even more.

I like nice people.

Monday, June 6, 2011


So this has been a great week full of learning, information and other awesome stuff.

Talli Rosenbaum recommended some therapists to me, ranging from sex therapists to physical therapists. So I, not knowing the difference, called up the sex therapist, Shoshana Bulow. She listened to me talk and said that I was all confident and open and very different from most of the people who call up and talk about this issue and are embarrassed and sad and who even may have histories of rape or sexual abuse. Hence she felt that talk therapy, which is what she does, is not what I need. Conceptually, I'm already in a good place. It's the physical stuff I need to work on.

I hadn't even known that sex therapists aren't licensed to work with women in my situation who need the physical aspect or dilators. It disturbed me that the first woman I had gone to see had led me to believe that she was licensed to follow up with dilators when now here was Shoshana saying that sex therapists are not trained in that. You can learn more about the difference between sex therapy and female sexual dysfunction here.

Shoshana recommended that I check out The Medical Center for Female Sexuality located in White Plains and Manhattan. This place is awesome. It's headed by a frum woman, Bat Sheva Marcus. You can read Dr. Marcus' bio right here. The people who work there are trained in all sorts of sexual dysfunction ranging from vaginismus to vulvar vestibulitis to erecticle dysfunction and so on. The best part about them is that they work with you so that you can pay them. They will let you create an interest-free payment plan so that you can pay them the money over a longer period of time (even maybe a year) because they want to work with you and help you and not bankrupt you. Apparently this center is one of the only centers in the country that does this work. People fly in from all over (including Egypt!) so they can just start the treatment plans they need there and then go back to doctors in their home country with the information they need to continue the plan back home.

This place is relatively new; it was only founded only eleven years ago according to the lady that I spoke to on the phone. You need to put $300 down in order to start - they do take insurance. So you give $150 when you book an appointment and another $150 when you come into the office. The way it works is that the first appointment takes an hour and a half. The first part of the appointment is you sitting down with a therapist and doing a psycho-sexual workup where you discuss your whole sexual history, your fears, worries, concerns etc. Then they take your bloodwork and a nurse practitioner does an exam on you (probably to see the symptoms, like in my case, how and when I tense up). After all that, they come up with a personalized treatment plan for you.

I really liked the section on the website talking about vaginismus, which is the condition I have. I especially liked that they had a section talking about painful sex or intimacy for men to read so that he can understand his wife/ girlfriend better. The site also has testimonials and other great stuff and vlogs and video presentations from Dr. Marcus talking about various issues.

So I have an appointment with the center for after Shavuos and with any luck it'll be good.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


I've been realizing (through the emails I've been getting and the comments to this blog) that there seem to be some misconceptions regarding sexual issues in general and vaginismus in particular. So I'm going to address some of those.

1. Just Relax- Why don't I "just relax" and have sex with my husband? This "just relaxing" taking the form either of taking pills, drinking alcohol or just placing myself in an intimate setting with delicious-smelling candles that makes me feel relaxed. Let me illustrate the answer with a mashal. Let's say someone stabbed you and you were bleeding. Would you say to your body "Just don't bleed?" It's not in your control. Your body is physically deciding to do something that you can't stop. You can try to fix it, of course, by putting a bandage on the cut, but just saying or even thinking really hard "Stop bleeding" doesn't help. And it gets even worse, of course, if you're a hemophiliac. So in my case, even though my mind is thinking really hard, "Just relax," my body doesn't want to. My body is scared and pain-avoidant and anxious and I'm going to have to train it not to see penetration as something scary. That's why I'm going to actually have to go through a process to train my body to relax.

2. Why don't you use lubricants?- Firstly, my husband and I DO use lubricants. We use KY Jelly and olive oil. Aside from this, my husband is great at foreplay and he has no problem getting me wet. I can be wet and wanting him and very lubricated but that doesn't mean we can have sex. Lubricants have nothing to do with having sex when it comes to an issue like vaginismus. Vaginismus, you see, is the vaginal muscles spasming and closing against the penis. When the penis tries to penetrate, it literally can't. I spasm really really tightly so that I kind of close myself off to him. He's lucky if he can even get two fingers inside of me, let alone a penis.

3. Religion causes sexual dysfunction. - Religion doesn't cause sexual dysfunction. Possibly growing up in a really strict house where sex is seen as a shameful thing and getting little to no education about sex at all can cause sexual dysfunction, but that doesn't have to be related to religion. My religious education was really open and broad and considered sex a great and wonderful thing but I'm still in this position. The reason women like me have vaginismus is still undetermined. What's clear, though, is that we see penetration as something that is painful and we are afraid of the pain and get very nervous, anxious and afraid which is why our bodies in a protective mechanism shut down and don't allow the penetration to take place. What we need to do is embrace that anxiety and figure out a way to work through it or past it, usually with the help of a sex therapist.

Talli Rosenbaum said something really interesting about vaginismus to me, in fact:
    My approach is as follows: Women with vaginismus, like yourself, are confronted with a basic conflict between the cognitive and the emotional. Your cognitive side gives you a thousand reasons why you want to have intercourse. In fact you do really want to, are motivated to, can’t understand why you shouldn’t be able to. Yet, the emotional side experiences anxiety. This is the side you feel is your enemy. You don’t want that anxiety, that reaction. You want it to go away. My mindfulness based approach is not about choosing the cognitive over the emotional (not to mention, by the way, the physical…because the pain is real) It is about stopping to fight the anxiety that you try to repress until the moment of intercourse when it becomes so overwhelming that you are actually shaking. No matter what people tell you, it is not true that if you want it badly enough, you can do it. “Just Relax” are the two most useless things one can say to a women experiencing what you are going through.
If you want some example of non-Jewish women suffering from sexual dysfunction, you can watch the Tyra Banks Show episode on 'Sexless Marriages' or MTV special "I Can't Have Sex." I do not advise following the advice or actions of the participants on these shows without consulting your sex therapist; I'm posting it up solely so that you can see that plenty of women who aren't neccessarily religious have this issue.


Regarding my perspective on the modesty of writing this blog, let me put it like King Solomon might have: There's a time to be modest and a time not to be.

I believe with matters of emotional and physical health and wellness there is no time to be modest. This is a time to act, to educate, to inform and hopefully to save lives and people's marriages. People need to know this condition and situation exists and that there are folks out there who can treat it and they are not alone in it.

Regarding a lot of the well-meaning comments asking why I don't:

-Get really drunk and let my husband penetrate me
-Take muscle relaxants or anti-anxiety medication
-Have a hymenectomy (my hymen broken)

It's kind of like a mother  having her first child. She wants to have her baby naturally with a vaginal delivery. Now, if things go really wrong she might end up having a C-Section and that can be good and happy for everyone. And sure, she might have an epidural along the way as well. But she really wants to have the baby naturally if she can mostly because she wants to feel normal.

I want to feel normal. I would prefer to think my husband and I could make love when I'm not hopped up on alcohol (in that case it's also a sin; you can't have sex when your partner is drunk in Judaism) drugs, medicine or having to have some other person intervene and break the tissue.  I'm not saying I won't do these things if they become necessary. But I'd rather do dilators first, if I can/ something more natural and then move along to the more extreme remedies as we go along. I also don't want to become dependent on something (like anxiety medication) when the issue of spasming is something I can learn to control either on my own or the help of a physical therapist.

Maybe I'll change my mind but this is how I feel right now. Everyone is entitled to hold on to a little piece of normality.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


So we attempted intercourse and we failed.

First we tried the knee-chest position. Then I tried resting my legs on his shoulders. Then I tried the woman-on-top position where I can lower myself down on him.

I'm not sure why I thought this would work and I would be able to say: Yippee! Did it! It didn't work. I was in excruciating pain as always, my husband described the sensation on his end as though I had pretty much clamped up down below and in fact my entire body started to shake in pain and fear. You heard that right. Literally my entire body in uncontrollable shaking and spasms.

This is aside from the fact that it's one thing to get paper cuts on your thumb or finger but when you get the equivalent of paper cuts down below, it hurts. And that happened. I'm not sure how but probably something to do with all that pushing. So now I have minute pinpricks of blood that show up on Kleenex.

I'm not sure what my next step is. Probably dilators, although I'm not sure if I'll just buy them on my own and try to work with them or do them under a doctor's supervision.

I read Talli Rosenbaum's "When Sex is Scary" entry today and felt a little better. Of course, that didn't prevent me from crying hopelessly in my bed with my husband's arms wrapped around me wailing that he will leave me, that he won't love me anymore, that I will never have children and that this is hopeless. And that I don't know if I can love anyone anymore because this is so draining.

On the positive side of things, one person wrote a comment I didn't publish informing me that if I have vaginismus that is Hashem's (well, or his version of Hashem's) way of saying that I should be a nun or celibate all my life. That made me smile a bit because it was so absurd. Weakly. But still, watery smiles are better than nothing.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


So I saw that some people linked my blog, which I appreciate because it gets the word out.

What I didn't appreciate were the direct attacks on me, my religion and my intelligence level in the comments to the posts. I'm not stupid. I interact with the world on a daily basis. I have a whole lot of non Jewish and non religious friends. I don't have vaginismus because I'm religious. I don't even have a lack of information about sex solely because I'm religious. I had a lack of information about sex because I happened to approach the wrong source to tell me about it. I didn't know much about my own anatomy because I never used tampons (instead I used pads) and therefore it never occurred to me to randomly stick objects inside of me.

Whether or not I were religious right now, I'd still have a medical condition called vaginismus, something I don't think that most of you understand. Vaginismus is a mixture of a psychological and physical condition where the muscles of the vagina literally panic and don't allow penetration to occur. They freak out. They say stop, dangerous, scary, no entry. This is something I need to work to overcome and a lot of other women like me need to work to overcome. And instead of being compassionate and seeing how that is a struggle that ought to be respected, a lot of you are just blaming me for my religion. You also talk about me like I'm an idiot and unable to see beyond its tenets, calling me a "prisoner" of it or talking about how my religion has ruined me.

Seeing as the majority of you don't know anything about my religion, how dare you attack it? And attack me? Who are you to know me, judge me; how do you even know anything about why I chose this religion? You don't even know what my religion has to say about sexuality, which is, by the way, that it's the most beautiful, wonderful, amazing thing ever. I have a very positive view of sexuality and was brought up with the idea that it's pleasurable and holy; my only issue is actually performing the act.

Shame on you for attacking me and what's more important, the women I represent. I'm a woman who has a form of sexual dysfunction; in my case, vaginismus. And I'm working to get over it and beyond it. You should get on board with helping make sexual dysfunction less taboo rather than just shouting each other down in order to see who can do a better job of blaming the woman who has it.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I was saying Tehillim today and I was on perek chaf hey saying pasuk yud zayin specifically and I started thinking about how much I relate to it.

Tzaros levavi hirchivu. The pains of my heart are widened. And then the request for Hashem to please bring me out of the depths and lift me up.

And I was just thinking how there must be some purpose in all this. A lot of really nice people have been emailing me to offer their support which I really appreciate. And a lot of them have been saying how I'm brave. Now I don't think it's brave to write an anonymous blog. But I am glad that people have been able to be touched by things I'm saying and hopefully will get help if they need it. I was thinking that maybe everything is sort of connected and that Hashem always gives us what we can handle. I'm sure if he gave this pekel to me and my husband it must be for a reason so I just hope we're able to shed light on it and make sure that people can benefit from the knowledge that this can happen.

I guess I was just thinking about Hashem and his greatness in general today. I mean, this is the Borei Shomayim vAretz that we're talking about. He who makes the makkos and nisim and is in charge of every malach who sits there davening for every blade of grass to grow. And this Hashem about whom we say lashem ha'aretz umloah decided that me and my husband had to go through this experience. Why us?

And the only thing I can really answer is that maybe this is related to our tafkid. Maybe it's our job to tell the world about this so that reforms can happen. Maybe there can be better sexual education in general. I sure hope so. Maybe Hashem picked us because he knows that we can do something about it, not just so that we can be in pain about it. I believe with full emuna and bitochon that Hashem is full of blazing ahavah. I also believe with all my heart that his love showers down on me and my husband. So somehow this too comes from Him with love.

Monday, May 23, 2011


I have such conflicted feelings about being a Nidah.

On the one hand, I hate being separated from my husband. I take strength from him and part of that strength is physical. I like to lean on him, to touch him and feel connected.

On the other hand, it does give us time to work out issues we won't otherwise address. It also, to some extent, takes the pressure off because there's no way for us to try to have intercourse when I'm a Nidah.

It's the Seven Clean Days I really dislike. I get the not sleeping with your wife when she's bloody. I don't get the Seven Clean Days. To me they're more like the Seven Awful Days. Especially because I bleed longer than five days in the first place, so I have seven days of bleeding and seven clean days and then how much of the month is left for me to even try to be with my husband?

But what I really hate about Nidah are bedikah cloths.

You're supposed to wrap a white cloth around your finger, insert it into your vaginal canal, move it around and see if there are any stains on it. The problem with this is I am very frightened of inserting my finger into the vaginal canal. I am comfortable inserting tampons now but I'm not comfortable inserting my finger.

I did do it with the doctors onlooking because they said I had to and I responded to the authority in their voices. But when I try to do bedikahs with my own finger and the cloth I just end up failing. The reason why, I think, is that it hurts a bit when I prod myself seeking entrance and I don't want to push harder and hurt myself more just to put the finger in. I wish my husband were able to do my bedikahs for me because I don't mind when he puts his finger in. I trust him so I'm not scared then.

I tried to explain to my kallah teacher even before I got married that I was scared of bedikahs and that I didn't think I knew how to do them. She wasn't helpful. She said to use tampons and that I had to insert my finger at least to my knuckle  by a bedikah. I don't think she got that at the time I had no idea where to insert the finger.

Bedikah means to search. Theoretically you're searching for blood, but in my case I'm searching for so many other things. Confidence. Lack of fear. The ability to push the finger in even if I'm scared it will hurt or it does hurt. I worry that I'll always be searching. That I won't get over this. That we'll both be unfulfilled and I won't have kids. I worry about the shame when I have to go to gynecologists for pap smears and I'm still a virgin even though I'm supposed to be married. I worry that my bedikah will be unsuccessful and I'm going to stay stuck for a very long time.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


From what I understand, most frum girls have one of two responses to sex when they find out about it: horror and disgust or excitement and interest.

The ones who haven't been told anything think: "I'm expected to do that with someone?" They're usually traumatized.

The ones who have had a slightly more open upbringing try to romanticize it and focus on the pleasure part of it, like I did. They're the ones who get excited by it and think it will be really pleasurable and awesome. Of course, that probably means that the first time they're a bit disappointed because assuming you're both virgins, it's not like either of you know what you're doing.

Neither of these frum girls have a good view towards reality. Reality would be something closer to this: Sex, like anything else, is a skill which involves technique and practice. You have to learn how to do it well (once you're able to do it at all. Unlike me currently.) The good thing is, if you put in effort, listen to your partner and read books, hopefully you can make it better for both of you.

I wonder why no one just puts that out there. What would be so scary if we did.

Instead, we let our girls sit there with lots of misinformation and half-truths, either traumatized, scared and disgusted or excited but kind of air-headed and wait for them to just figure it all out on the wedding night. Because that makes sense.

Aside from this, there's only so much you can learn from books. Orgasms, for instance. My husband would love for me to have one. He's read all about the clitoris, stimulation etc. Also about how most girls don't really have one from vaginal penetration; it's more from clitoral stimulation. And yet despite all that we have no idea how to do it. I mean, we try, and I feel good for a bit but there's never that amazing wow-bliss that everyone talks about. In fact, usually it's too much stimulation so I just tell him to stop.

I just wish someone out there would address all the stuff girls really want to know in a non-scary way and suggest techniques, too.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


It probably doesn't make sense to most people why my husband would stay with me given this situation. I mean, isn't sex the only thing men think about? That's what our society wants us to think anyway. So how is my husband dealing with this?

Well, for one thing he's super understanding. And he's cute when he sneezes because there is cat fuzz all over the couch. But better than that he's in love with me. The kind of buy-flowers-for-no-reason, celebrate my being in his life, cover me in kisses deep sort of we'll-get-through-anything love. And I'm grateful of course but more than that this is making me fall more in love with him. Through the haze of guilt that's in my head because of course I feel bad for him that he doesn't get to have sex I realize how much he loves me that he is so careful not to blame me or hurt me (I mean aside from times when we both get into fights and lose our cool).

And I love him. I love when we wake up in the morning and his hair is all tousled and he blinks his eyes and adjusts to daylight. He looks so sleepy and adorable. I love how we debate politics until we both fall asleep from exhaustion. I love his willingness to put up with my owning a cat. I love our banter when we go to brush our teeth. I love how he does not judge me for my ADD. I even love when he gets upset and corrects me when I've been ignoring his feelings and have been being selfish. I love when he tells me about his day at work. I love the weirdness that is our normelcy in the middle of all this, like when we cuddle up to watch a comedy together and laugh. I love our ridiculousness when we are grocery shopping and start defending different foods in a  battle of cottage cheese against the tacos.

I love how he knows exactly when I need my dose of Ke$ha so he blasts his iPod and tells me to just let the crazy out and work off the steam on our elliptical machine. I love him taking a towel that's warm and dry and wrapping me in it when I come out of the shower.

I love that he'll sit through the "Water for Elephants" movie even though he has no interest in Twilight stars, elephants or Reese Witherspoon. I love that we'll go get fro-yo at 10 at night just because it makes me happy.

My husband's got this whole sugary side you guys don't know about it. I'm the only one who gets to see it and it's one of the things making sure we get through this while staying sane.

So darling, to take Enrique's line:

Tonight I'm loving you.


Suddenly there are all these visitors to this blog- wow- where did you all come from? Where'd you find the link?

Sunday, May 15, 2011


So today's visit to the Drs was epic. I went, my husband went with me, and it was awesome.

See, I went to see a woman who is a marital and sex therapist and also a kallah teacher whose husband is also a marital and sex therapist and also an obgyn. They are both frum in addition to this. So the way it worked is first my husband and I went into the office and spoke with the woman and told her who we were, gave her our information and told her what we had tried leading up to coming there (namely, how we thought we were having sex, found out we weren't from gyno who made me feel like a freak and my husband had spoken to the sex therapist who said to use graduated tampons and then one finger and then two and then when we couldn't do two said to go to them).

So then she asked us what position we were trying to have sex in.

So we said our kallah and chassan teacher hadn't really told us anything about positions but what we had sort of gleaned was that I should lay back on the bed, spread my legs and bend my knees but have the soles of my feet flat on the bed. And my husband should support himself on his arms and kind of try to come inside me.

And the woman's like, "That's so not happening." She explained that we need to do something called the knee-chest position where I hold my legs up to my chest with bent knees and spread them in the air so that my vaginal opening is facing straight rather than pointed down. My husband should kneel between my legs and then try penetrating me. This will make everything MUCH easier.

She then took out latex models of a vagina and showed us on the model everything about our anatomy. She explained there is no such thing as a vagina that is "too small." She showed on the model how the vaginal canal is narrow but the actual vagina is very large and people can hide jewels, guns or drugs in there which is why there are strip-searches. After all, a baby's head has to fit through there! She also explained when a baby can't fit through and they do a C-section it's not because the vagina is too small but because of something to do with the pelvic area and bones instead. But the vagina itself can fit anything, can stretch and there's no such thing as your vagina being too small. So why is the canal itself/ the opening small? Because the man and the woman want to feel the intercourse. "No one wants to have intercourse with the Holland Tunnel" in her words.

After showing us on the latex vagina the positioning as well and how one big problem with us is how we were positioned because my husband was trying to penetrate me when my vaginal opening was pointed down, she went on to talk about some other issues.

She explained with an example of how sometimes you really need to pee so you hold it in even though you have to go really badly and maybe one drop of pee actually even seeps out into your underwear. But let's say you have a train ride home, so you clamp your legs together and hold it and finally get home and rush to the bathroom and a little pee trickles out. And then, a while later, once you're relaxed, you can go back to the bathroom and actually pee. So why does that happen? It's because you tightened the muscles in order to prevent the pee from coming out and once you get home off the train even though your brain says 'Relax' your muscles are still tightened and you have to physically loosen/ relax to actually be able to relax and release the 700ccs of urine.

So it's the same with the vagina. If the vagina fears or senses pain in penetration, then it tightens up and unfortunately it's a vicious cycle because the more you tighten, the more pain you will feel when something tries to enter you. So you need to work on relaxing those muscles.

But that's not the only issue that could occur regarding pain. There can also be an issue with how your hymen is shaped. Some hymens have a septum, which is a piece of skin down the middle which is intercepting the hole, which is why there is pain. And some other hymens have lots of little holes but no one big hole that a penis can fit through. Also, some hymens are really tough like shoe leather so even if the penis could get in, that doesn't mean it could break the skin. So to determine what sort of hymen you have and the physical level of difficulty you might have because of it you need to be examined by a doctor. Sometimes in some cases you might need a surgery just because of how you were born.

Then she said how her husband is an Obgyn and if I want I can be examined right then and there. So I said yes and my husband came with me and we met her husband, who is a lovely older man, and he set me up in his office and I took off my underwear and lay down and he had me take a mirror and explained all my anatomy to me. Then he put in one finger and it hurt a little but no excruciating pain.

But when he put in TWO fingers tears came into my eyes and I cried out in pain and he said, "You're tensing up, I see it" and I really did tense up. But he wouldn't take the fingers out so I needed to sit there and calm myself and relax which I did eventually. Then he said instead of him shoving fingers inside me I would do it. I protested that I can't, I can't do it, I can't even put one finger inside me. But he said you can and you will. And all of a sudden I DID I put one finger inside me. And then he lubricated the other finger and said put it inside as well. And I DID. I don't know how I did except he and his wife told me I HAD to and somehow them saying I had to made me do it. And it didn't hurt as much when I put two fingers in as when he did.

So he examined me some more and he said like this. He said my hymen is a little tough, not like shoe leather, not super fibrous, but a little tough. It's like a thick rubber band a bit. So he's not sure if it will break even if my husband does penetrate me with force. But here are the options they gave me:

1) My husband and I can try to have intercourse with the new position they told us to use
2) The obgyn can perform a surgical procedure where he snips certain parts of tissue connecting the hymen and thus I don't feel the tightening that causes the pain and I can let this heal for a while (at least a week) and then my husband will be able to penetrate me
3) I can come in and use dilators under the lady doctor's supervision, which will give me more control and make me open wide enough that my husband should be able to insert his penis. But if I do this, there's no guarantee that even then he'll be able to penetrate me because of the fact that my hymen is a little thick.

So now I need to think about these options and come up with which one I want to do. I'm not sure. I think maybe I want to try us having intercourse and if it doesn't work, do the dilators. But if I end up having to get cut anyway, I don't know if the dilators are worth it.

I asked the doctor what I have and he says he coined a name for it called 'reactive vaginismus' and it's perfectly normal. It's not like vaginismus where there are women who have it all the time, with a hymen or without a hymen, because they were raped or sexually assaulted or something. Rather, it's tensing up and tightening and fear because of having something inside me that I don't want to have there because I'm scared and once my hymen is penetrated, it will go away. So it's not a long-lasting issue or condition.

His wife said I don't have a condition or label at all; it's just normal fear. She called it the SJG condition and said that's what it is, nothing else.

Really this visit went so much better than I could have imagined. It helped a lot that my husband was there. He wiped away my tears and gave me a massage and gave me kisses when the doctors left the examining room and told me I was brave and strong. The doctors also said I had done very well in the exam.

I'm proud of myself that I went even though I was scared and I hope we can fix this sooner rather than later. I just wish I had had this lady as my kallah teacher in the first place because maybe I wouldn't even be here now. It also seems like this is a combination of me and my husband being in the wrong position, him not using enough force, my 'reactive vaginismus' and the fact that I have a slightly thick hymen, so I don't feel as bad anymore like it's all my fault. I think that's a good thing.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


I made the calls.

The first doc I called has a horrible office. I was put on hold for a half hour twice. I told the woman I spoke to I needed two minutes of the doc's time to find out if she even treats the condition I have. The woman took my info but then called me back to say, "I talked to my coworkers and they said you have to make an appointment and come in to talk to that woman or she'll charge you to talk to you on the phone." And I said, "How can you expect me to make an appointment when I don't know if she can treat the particular condition I have? How much is an appointment?" "250 an hour," the other replied. "Sucks for you, I'm not making one," was my reply.

Then I called a different woman who someone who reads this blog had recommended. She was a totally different story. She spoke to me about my situation, took down my info, made me an appointment and when I told her that my obgyn had made me feel like a freak when I discovered I was still a virgin/ dealing with this unconsummated marriage issue said, "If you want to feel like a freak, you can, but just know I've treated about 200-300 cases of this." Wow! She put me at ease.

I'm excited. I want this to work. The sessions are very expensive and I'm not sure how I am going to afford it, but I guess we'll just have to work out a plan and hope everything goes well. It's good to know there are docs out there who can possibly help.


I don't want to get my hopes up too much.

By the way, just because this is the most major problem my husband and I are dealing with doesn't mean life just stops. There are a thousand things on my mind, other issues we need to be dealing with. This is an upsetting place in our lives in general. Imagine pressures of having to attend a family bar mitzvah in another state, the other one's graduation from high school, deal with work tensions, family expectations some of which are nuts and you also have this huge overwhelming issue underneath it all. It's just way too much. I feel like a ticking time bomb. It's hard holding all this stuff together.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Until now, we had been working on the therapy suggested by the first doctor. He said to go through the various sizes of tampons, then do one finger, then do two. Except I would scream in pain when my husband would try to  insert two of his fingers into me. Finally he managed to do it but this idea of being able to move them in and out of me is completely impossible. As well barbecue me over a bunch of burning coals.

So my husband talked to the therapist (I was not really in a position to be talking; I was too busy being miserable) and he said "The level of pain you're talking about requires professional attention. You wife should be examined by a physical therapist or ob/gyn who is expert in sexual pain. Let me know if you need help finding someone."

So now I'm scared. Because now I have to actually call up a bunch of doctors who specialize in sexual pain and say, "Hey, guess what. I'm a freak. I can't consummate my marriage because just having my husband insert two fingers into me is a struggle which makes me scream. Now let me take off my panties in your office while you insert your gloved fingers inside me and make me scream as well and then perhaps laugh at me for being such an idiot."

Now yes, doctors are supposed to be compassionate so it's not likely that that would really happen. But when I went to my obgyn, the sense I got was that the idea of people just not being able to consummate their marriage at all was foreign to her. Then she told the other obgyn in her practice, who was my primary one, and I felt like my secret had been violated because the whole reason I had gone to her partner and not my regular physician in the first place was because I hadn't wanted the primary one to know and judge me. So I definitely don't want to go to either of those women for treatment.

Aside from the issue of finding someone, I'm going to have to miss work in order to do these appointments, which are probably going to be extremely humiliating and involve me being naked where it matters most and potentially inserting different size dilators inside myself. Plus I have no idea what this costs and if I have the money to pay for it, because health insurance probably won't pay for it. So I have no idea how I will pay for this. And it's not like I can ask family members for help potentially because I don't want them to know anything about this.

I also grew up in a time where therapy of any kind was frowned upon and looked down upon. The idea being, "Oh, you're crazy, that's why you need therapy." I remember my parents boasting when I grew up, "All our friends had to go to marriage therapy, but we never had to." It's like a mark of pride never to need to go to therapy. And here I am, 24 years old, and I'm not only going to have to go to therapy but I have to go to therapy where I'm naked and bare and in a completely vulnerable and compromising position which is nothing like what or who I am in real life where I'm actually a very accomplished professional.

So I'm scared. And I've been pushing off making the phone call because of how I'm dreading everything to follow and worrying that the woman I see will laugh at me or talk about me behind my back to all her friends - oh, that nebach case I had with a woman who couldn't even be intimate with her husband! Hashem yerachem. And I don't want to be a pity case.

But I have to make the phone call because we can't live like this. On the positive side of things, my amazing husband insists on coming with me to the doctor so maybe that means things will go better.

I hate crying in front of people and I just know I am going to dissolve into tears in front of this woman when I go see her because this is just way too much to handle. I hate feeling weak and yet I have no choice. I feel like what is anything I have done worth when in the end I still need to walk into an office and take off my panties and be felt up by a doctor so she can officially diagnose me and then tell me about exercises I need to do to calm down my vaginal muscles so that I can finally- finally- one day, preferably before Mashiach comes- make love to my husband.

I just hate being in a position which makes me so dependent on the mercy of others.

Monday, May 9, 2011


After the gynecologist had told me to work on inserting tampons, I bought a box and tried putting them in. I did successfully insert them about three times. I figured that was enough. I also spent a lot of time with my husband just cuddling and caressing him and getting close. Then came the Nidah period.

We were really excited for our Mikvah night. This time, everything was going to go perfectly. I went to the mikvah. I went to the drying room, perfectly blow-dried my hair, put on my makeup and beneath my blouse I wore the same lingerie I had worn on my wedding night.

My husband, in the meantime, got our house ready. He closed the lights, lit romantic scented candles everywhere and put rose petals on the bed. When I got home, he was waiting for me in his robe. He had showered and shaved. I opened the door and literally walked into a fairytale. He handed me a dozen red roses and after I had told him I was pure now, kissed me.

He had also found the music I had walked down to at my chuppah and he had set it to repeat. It was beautiful music. The connotation, of course, was that this night was our true wedding night.

We went to the bedroom. He undressed me tenderly. He kissed me. I kissed him back. We slowly touched each others' bodies, watching as they came alive. The feel of his skin, my hand in his hair after such a long time apart- it was heaven.

The moment came. I knew I should help direct him. So I lay back, bent my knees, relaxed, opened myself to him. He pushed hard. I choked back a scream. Whatever he was pushing against, it didn't work. I didn't want to let him know that, though. I just gritted my teeth and tried to bring him closer. He pushed again. This time I couldn't stifle the cry that ripped from my throat. There were tears on my face. I was in pain and I was crying. His arousal started to go soft.

"No," I whispered harshly, angrily. "Keep going." My head against the pillow, I could hear my wedding music playing. I could see myself walking to that chuppah. I wanted us to be married for real.

"I can't," he said in anguish. You see, he could see my face, which was a blur of pain and sadness.

I forced him. I came up with ways to make him aroused again and then I had him try again. And he did try and I would scream and he would go soft. "I can't do this, SJG," he finally whispered. "I feel like I'm raping you."

"But you're not raping me. You have my permission to do it," I said irrationally.

"I just can't be aroused when you're in so much pain," he said and cradled me.

We hugged each other, sobbing. In the background was the wedding music, which made us both think of me the way I was, such a happy bride.

"Shut that off," I begged and he got up and turned it off. Then he started to berate himself.

"How could I have been so stupid to think that it would just work without us doing any work," he said.

"I did do work," I protested. "I put the tampons in."

"Not enough. We need to see a professional."

"I can't, I can't see one," I said and burst into more tears.

Then we started fighting. I blamed him for not knowing where the opening was and how to do it right and he blamed me because he said I had vaginismus, which I didn't want to believe. We both sunk to the lowest levels human beings who are supposed to be in a loving relationship could sink to.

We left our bedroom, which we felt was cursed. We were so emotionally raw, so completely unable to handle this. We went to sit on our couch.

"Why don't we try here?" I suggested. He shook his head. "Please," I asked. "Maybe in a different location- you can make sure I'm relaxed first."

So he did relax me and play with me and I was happy and even smiling. And then he would try to enter me and my body would actually push him back. My legs would literally clench together and just not open to him. The memory of the pain I had just felt was not letting me be open even though in my mind I was telling myself to be. So I lay down and pulled back the folds and tried then. Nothing. There was literally no way for him to get inside me; my body wasn't allowing it. I was way too tense.

That's when my husband said we needed to call a sex therapist. So we called a famous one. He heard our whole story and told us to start with a treatment of putting in tampons (lubricating them first), from the smallest size to the largest over however long a period of time I would need. Then either I or my husband should insert one finger and work on moving it in and out. Then two fingers. If we couldn't do two fingers, I would have to actually go see a professional in an office.

It was amazing. I had managed to keep the tears out of my voice while on the phone with the man. But once we hung up, I dissolved into a puddle of sorrow and misery. My husband held me for a long time.

That night scarred us. We can't even fully think back to it or experience it because it was a true horror show, the kind that haunts you. I haven't begun to describe to you the horror of that night.

And my wedding music has been poisoned for me. Now, when I hear it, I think back to my husband on top of me, desperately trying to help me and make me happy and incapable of raping his wife. He told me sometime later the most awful thing he's ever seen is the way my face looked that night. How I was in excruciating pain and struggling not to show it while tears were trickling down my face.

I love my husband. I love him so much. And after that night, I think we can go to hell and back without being severed. Because there is nothing I can imagine that can compare to the horror of that night.


A lot of you must be wondering what the purpose of this blog is. Allow me to explain.

The purpose of this blog is not to scare you, freak you out, make you worried that this will happen to you or that your marriage is doomed. It is not to say that you should get scared about marriage. It is to say that you should get educated. I want people to learn from my experience so that this won't happen to you. Here are some easy things you can do to make sure that happens.

1) Go to a gynecologist and have her show you your anatomy in a mirror, explaining what each part is so that you know exactly where the hymen is and where the little entrance where you can be penetrated is. In addition, explore on your own (all you need is a flashlight and a mirror).

2) Use tampons. Forget what people say where they are worried that you are going to break your hymen. It's not going to happen. Even if it did, you would still be considered a betulah on your Kesuba. The way that it works is that you take the smallest size tampon (Lites or Juniors) and lie down on your bed, spread your legs, bend your knees, pull back the folds of your labia and then glide the tampon inside of you. You can lubricate the tampon with olive oil or KY Jelly (I personally think olive oil works better). Work your way up to larger tampons. In this way you stretch the opening a bit and get comfortable with the idea of having something enter you there.

3) If you want to and are comfortable, practice putting your finger inside as well. You will do this anyway when you have to make bedikot, so you might as well get used to doing it now.

These extremely simple exercises can make you a lot more familiar with your own anatomy and give you the confidence to not worry about penetration.

Also: I have it on the best authority (that of my sex therapist) that penetration being painful is a myth. There is a little bit of pressure, but you are not ripped apart, you are not in incredible pain; you are going to be perfectly fine. All those stories which were told to me were either myths or came about because the woman was not sufficiently lubricated before her husband penetrated her.

So please just make sure that you're educated, you know your anatomy and you feel competent and confident and in control before your chuppah.

Now, if, despite all these preparations, you still find yourself presenting with symptoms of vaginismus, that's the other purpose of this blog- to let you know that you're not alone, there are people out there who are in your position and that it's okay and that you're going to be okay, just like one day I will be okay.


In my community, it's common for newly-married couples to have a heter for birth control for one year. After that, though, everyone starts to have children.

Well, our one year is up. (Our anniversary and how sad that was is a whole other story.) So I notice that when I go to shul, people quietly look to see if I'm pregnant. Or people always say, "Im Yirtza Hashem by you, when you have children." Or I just watch mothers pushing their babies in their carriages.

And I cry because I can't be pregnant, even if I wanted to be because I can't do something as simple as have intercourse with my husband. So all these well-intentioned remarks just make me sad. I know it's not the same, but I feel like I understand a bit of what women struggling with infertility deal with. Imagine a culture and community that is so focused on this one thing, and you're inept or incapable of doing this thing. There's a constant reminder in your face and nothing you can do about it.

I was reminded of the idea of Penina and Channah in Navi. I'm beginning to understand why Penina would lose her children for taunting Channah.

The question in all of this is why is it happening to me? What does Hashem want me to do with this pain? I don't flatter myself that I'm like the Imahos and Hashem really needs my tefilos (prayers) before my husband and I could finally be together. Only sometimes I do. I think maybe this is a nisayon (test) which if we pass, will somehow give us an amazing sechar (reward).

I also think that the only thing I know that I can do is let people know this situation even happens. I don't know how often it happens, but it does, and it should be dealt with.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


I stumbled upon a piece of information tonight that made me so happy I started to cry.

It seems that due out in July 2011 there is a book written by Dr. David Ribner and Jennie Rosenfeld entitled Et La'ahov: The Newlywed's Guide to Physical Intimacy. 

I don't know how explicit this guide is (though I sure hope it's very) but the very fact that someone thought that this issue should be addressed and people shouldn't be in the situation that I am gives me hope. I hope that everyone who is in shidduchim or about to get married reads this book. I hope it is an amazing book. And you better believe I'm going to read it the second it comes out in July.

I'm so excited I can't breathe.


When you're partners in an unconsummated marriage, there's a lot of anger.

You find yourself saying things you would never say under normal circumstances. You see yourself becoming bitter and horrible to your husband. You tell him this is all his fault and that any normal man would be able to have penetrated you. You compare him to your ex-boyfriend and laugh at him.

The reason you're so mean and vicious is because of how much pain you're dealing with yourself. You hate yourself. You hate yourself so much that you want to take out that hate on anyone you can and of course the only one you can is him because it's not like you can tell anyone about this.

So you spend a lot of time tearing each other down. Then you cry in each other's arms, because how did it get to this? You had such high hopes for this marriage. How can you possibly be in this place? How can you be destroying all those happy thoughts and feelings you had for each other? And yet you do it methodically, trying to burn it to the ground.

We've been yo-yoing back and forth between this for a while now. Some days are good days. A lot of them are angry days. We get furious, we cry, we try to pretend we're normal and this problem doesn't exist, etc in a cycle repeating over and over. Even things we can do, like making out, are hard for us to do because we're so aware of what's missing.

If we weren't such a strong couple, I have no doubt our marriage would be over already. But neither me nor my husband are quitters.

Aside from that, he's crazy in love with me. I have no idea why. Why would a man want to be with a woman who can't even sexually fulfill him? He adores me, though. He kisses my tears away and holds me and tells me we'll get through this. He says he won't leave me. He doesn't look at porn or do anything like that. He tries to comfort me in my inadequacy.

I'm more selfish. I know he feels inadequate and that I've been making him feel inadequate, but since I'm the one with the vaginismus issue (that's what it's called, by the way), I'm the one who feels defective. Like a broken thing that can't really be repaired. And it's making me hate myself.

The only feeling that's stronger than the anger and the fury I feel with everyone from my husband to the entire Orthodox system is my deep wish for this to just be over. 

I almost can't imagine what life will be like when it finally is.


So pretty much the way I realized that I got served was because my husband loves me.

See, we thought we were having sex. We weren't, of course. He'd push into me and thrust back and forth and eventually reach climax. The thing was, it was super painful for me. I tried not to think about it. I figured it would get better with time. It didn't make sense that the whole world was so crazy about this one thing and it wasn't something I wanted at all.

I persuaded my husband to let me pleasure him in different ways. I know that halachically I wasn't really supposed to but I figured that the whole process was so painful for me that Hashem (G-d) would understand. So I had him cum in my hand instead. I tried to avoid having sex.

My husband, of course, realized this was an issue. He googled sexual dysfunction and came up with something called 'dyspareunia.' I didn't want to believe there was anything wrong with me. He literally begged me to go to a gynecologist. We joked a bit about how the issue might be that I was still a virgin. Still, that's not what I really wanted to believe.

So there I was, alone at the gynecologist. I told her about the pain and she made some sort of comment about how it usually takes six months for people to sort of figure out sex if they've never done it before. I tentatively said that maybe the problem was that we hadn't even had sex yet. Her eyes opened wide and she said, "Oh, I'm sure it's not that." Once she checked me out, though, she said, "I'm afraid your hymen is still intact."

I burst into tears. Hot, furious tears. I was humiliated, savagely so. I felt incredibly stupid. She  had me sit up, shined a little light down there and taught me about my anatomy and where the hole was. She said I should try inserting tampons before trying to have sex again. She also said it would have been better for me if my husband had been one of those people who had just barreled on through and kind of pummeled through the skin. I wouldn't have had time to be afraid.

I walked out of that office furious with my husband and everyone who had failed me, including the entire Orthodox system, my kallah teacher, my mom, and most of all, myself. I couldn't believe that I was that stupid person who had to be told by my gyno that we just hadn't broken through the hymen and that's why it had hurt so much. I couldn't believe I was still a virgin. I didn't want to face anyone with this failure imprinted on my face.

But I didn't have much of a choice, because I had work and I had to tell my husband. So I wiped my eyes, put on a brave face and just went on with my life.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Everyone said it would hurt.

All the romance novels always have the hero saying that it will only hurt for a moment and he wishes he could take the pain for her, but he can't. Then he slides in and for a second it's painful, but then there's passion and fireworks. In a way, I guess that's what I was expecting. I had read online that first time sex isn't always so good, so it wasn't like I was going to hold my husband to some sort of standard. But that's what I wanted it to be. Magical.

My cousin said it hurt so much when her husband penetrated her. I had been frightened before, but when she told me that, I got even more worried. Only later did I find out that she hadn't been wet, which is part of why it hurt her so much. In a way, she was raped.

So when my husband got on the bed the second night and tried to penetrate me, I couldn't let him do it. I don't even remember everything clearly. I remember I had been anxious about this from even before the wedding. I didn't really know my anatomy well. I mean, I had looked at a bunch of diagrams and read niddah books but I had never put my finger inside me. Or used a tampon. I grew up using pads and that's just what I stayed with until the wedding.

So I didn't know where the hole he was supposed to be entering was. I couldn't find it, or see it, and in a way I guess I was afraid it wasn't really there. Even though the blood that dripped onto my pads during my periods had to come from somewhere. 

He didn't either really know. The room was dark. He tried to open up my folds and push. This didn't work. I screamed. It hurt a lot. Just like everyone said it would.

But what hurt more was the bright smile I had to put on my face when I attended Sheva Brachos that night. And the night after that. And the night after that. Seven nights in total. Seven nights of fear, worry, pain, shame, guilt and horror.

I also felt like a terrible wife. What kind of incompetent person was I that I didn't even know where the hole was? And I knew that men had needs but I wasn't helping my husband fulfill his. I felt so lonely and ashamed. The happy parties that people were making for us had nothing to do with the reality. We knew something was wrong but we didn't want to admit ourselves that we simply didn't know how to have sex.

Because I mean, come on. It's the 21st century. Who doesn't know how to have sex? The man is erect and he penetrates the woman. What's to know? Even thirteen-year-olds know how to do it and get babies out of it, too. Besides, we felt that if we kept on trying we'd have to stumble upon it at some point. I had been told the hymen was a thin piece of skin which my husband would just break through. Unfortunately, in my mind I had images of skin tearing, ripping, shredding while blood gushed out. It's no wonder I was frightened. But I also wanted to be normal. So I kept on having him push into me, until finally, one time, he hurt me so much that I thought that had to be it. He must have torn the hymen. Nothing else could cause that kind of pain.

I was wrong.


The night of my wedding, my husband and I were totally exhausted. Our wedding had been really lively and had gone till some crazy hour of the morning.

So we postponed intimacy. I was nervous. He could see that. He tried to calm me down by suggesting we take a bath together. We did. I liked being in the warm water with him. It made me feel safer. But I was still scared. He was the one who suggested that, due to the hour and our exhaustion, we should just go to bed. I knew that was okay because my kallah teacher had said not everyone always consummates the first night.

So we did. I fell asleep, curled up in his arms. I felt safe, protected. I felt loved.

It was the only perfectly happy day of our marriage.