Sunday, May 15, 2011

Visit

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.

14 comments:

Y said...

HI. A friend of mine sent me a link to this page. First of all, I sympathize with your pain. Secondly, you obviously looked into this a great deal, but there is one specific condition you did not mention, namely, "vestibulitis". I bring this up because vestibulitis is very common but only fairly recently been identified as a cause for painful intercourse and so it is not well known. This is characterized by women experiencing pain ONLY when pressure is put on the "vestibule" - a small flap of skin which surrounds and serves as the anatomical opening of the vagina. Do test for this, you can have your doctor, or even your husband, take a q-tip, and gently touch the various areas around your vagina. If, with light touch, you experience extreme pain, but ONLY when he places the q-tip on your vestibule, then you have your cause. This can then be treated with a minor surgery, where they would remove this flap of skin, and you are healed. As I mentioned, this condition was only recently identified, and many many many women have suffered with it (not to mention their respective husbands), and have been through all sorts of dilation therapy, talk therapy etc. which all prove futile. Vaginismus is another common cause of painful intercourse, but it can also often be a misdiagnosis for someone suffering from vestibulitis, in which case the treatment would not help. I hope that your new exercises help, and that your quality of life improves. It could be that this doctor was correct in your case. If, however, you (or anyone else who is reading this blog) does not find improvement with these techniques, I strongly urge you to look into vestibulitis. All the best.

Morey said...

You are my hero. I think you and your husband have a wonderful future together.

colloquiallyspeaking said...

glad it went well - keep that positive energy going to get you through the next stage...and then you get to change your blog name!!
my internet filter doesn't like the word unconsummated....i have to steal wifi to read your blog:)

Rebecca said...

I'm so sorry you're going through this. The doctors you are describing sound exactly like the first doctors I visited and I hate to break it to you but I later found out that they were both Quacks! That surgery is a bogus surgery and is not medically sanctioned.

Y said...

HI. A friend of mine sent me a link to this page. First of all, I sympathize with your pain. Secondly, you obviously looked into this a great deal, but there is one specific condition you did not mention, namely, "vestibulitis". I bring this up because vestibulitis is very common but only fairly recently been identified as a cause for painful intercourse and so it is not well known. This is characterized by women experiencing pain ONLY when pressure is put on the "vestibule" - a small flap of skin which surrounds and serves as the anatomical opening of the vagina. Do test for this, you can have your doctor, or even your husband, take a q-tip, and gently touch the various areas around your vagina. If, with light touch, you experience extreme pain, but ONLY when he places the q-tip on your vestibule, then you have your cause. This can then be treated with a minor surgery, where they would remove this flap of skin, and you are healed. As I mentioned, this condition was only recently identified, and many many many women have suffered with it (not to mention their respective husbands), and have been through all sorts of dilation therapy, talk therapy etc. which all prove futile. Vaginismus is another common cause of painful intercourse, but it can also often be a misdiagnosis for someone suffering from vestibulitis, in which case the treatment would not help. I hope that your new exercises help, and that your quality of life improves. It could be that this doctor was correct in your case. If, however, you (or anyone else who is reading this blog) does not find improvement with these techniques, I strongly urge you to look into vestibulitis. All the best.

Abandoning Eden said...

I'm not a sex therapist or anything, but if you are having problems losing your 'viriginity' (btw if your husbands penis was ever in your vagina you are not a virgin regardless of whether or not your hymen is still intact) because of the position you are using, maybe try the "doggy style" position? (girl on hands and knees with butt kinda tilted up, guy on knees behind her and penetrates from behind- just make sure he has the right hole, ha!). Not to be crude or anything, but this position allows for much deeper penetration and good leverage, which may help to break through your hymen. Making sure to be lubricated and make sure he doesn't go to quickly.

You are not a freak btw. After growing up religious it is very hard to relax and have sex after it being this forbidden thing for so long. I didn't have an orgasm until like 2 years after starting to have sex- but as long as you and your husband have open communication (which it seems you do) things will eventually get better, I promise!

Abandoning Eden said...

oh also have your husband do what the doctor did before you have sex- put some fingers inside you and gently stretch you out, giving you time to relax and enjoy yourself before adding each additional finger. You might want to even do that a few times and build up to more fingers before having sex, cause that might take the pressure off (since you would know there will be no sex the first couple of times, it can help you relax)

I highly recommend this book, I didn't have the same exact problems as you, but I think some of the advice is applicable and they have lots of exercises for couples (the idea of doing sexually pleasurable things at first without the pressure of having sex comes from this book):
http://www.amazon.com/Yourself-Fulfillment-Female-Sexuality/dp/0451202007

plonit said...

I'm so psyched (!!!!) that you found a doctor you can trust and work with, that always makes things much less scary.

@ Rebecca -- I don't know what kind of experiences you've had with doctors, but the surgery SJG seems to be describing is called a hymenectomy. It's not bogus at all -- it's done all the time on girls with imperforate hymens -- basically, when there are no holes in the hymen to let menstrual blood through, which can be very unhealthy.

There are tons of good books out there, but the internet also has tons of info, provided you are checking a reliable source. Not everything works for everyone. I've found http://sexuality.about.com/ has a lot of good information, although sometimes they assume the reader knows more than I know.

Sarah said...

Hi,

I just emailed you. I've been there and got through it...it's really difficult but manageable.
Good luck!

Sad Jewish Girl said...

Morey- thank you.

coloquiallyspeaking- well, thank you for reading, then!

Rebecca- are you the one who emailed me? If not, can you tell me why you're saying it's not a real surgery?

abandoning eden- I actually think that position might be harder for us but thank you for the suggestion and support. I look forward to reading the book!

plonit- thank you for your continued supportive comments on the site.

sarah- really appreciate the email, thanks.

mOOm said...

I've found that what position is comfortable varies from woman to woman. My wife and I find it quite hard to have sex in the "doggie" position. We've tried occasionally but it's not really comfortable. But in a previous relationship that worked very easily. So what is comfortable for you could be different than what people say "should be".

Once I had to have a catheter inserted into my throat to examine my stomach for ulcers. It was just incredibly hard to swallow the thing. The doctor had to switch to a special one for children (I'm a 6' 3" man) and was getting angry with me. In the end he succeeded in getting me to swallow the smaller one after a lot of struggle. My body just wanted to vomit the thing out the whole time. So I think I can understand just a little bit of what this could feel like.

Tova said...

I, too, was made to feel like a "freak" by my physician both during and after my first (and only) pelvic examination.

There's a link I posted on your most recent post describing the experience.

Again, I commend you. You're far braver than I am, considering the fact that I haven't been able to discuss things with a doctor yet.

Anonymous said...

You can visit a Bodeket - and she can open your hymen for you. If you are fearful this is a good solution. She will put something in, it will hurt for second, you will bleed and then your hymen is open. It can be as simple as that. I'm sure a doctor can do this too.
Have you ever heard about this or considered it? It should be okay according to Halacha.

Aurie said...

I just found your blog and I sympathize a great deal. I can also empathize. I had a vaginal septum which had to be surgically snipped. Amazingly the first 6 times I had sex were practically pain free, only when my partner and I tried a different position and moved more aggressively did it suddenly become horribly painful. It felt like he hit a wall, there was a stabbing horrific pain and tons of blood almost instantly. I talked to my ob/gyn and she did an internal exam. I had always had issues bleeding "around" tampons and suddenly knew why. My vagina was bifurcated by a septum which divided it into front and back, almost as if there were two vaginal canals. During intercourse my partner had rammed into the heavy edge of the septum and partially torn it. During a quick outpatient surgery my ob/gyn snipped the septum and pinned it back, like curtains and I was done. Since then I haven't had issues with penetration,with the exception of a piece of the scar tissue. Certain angles will aggravate the scar tissue and cause discomfort, but not pain. I am looking forward to reading more and praying you and your husband can one day enjoy this lovely joining of two people in body and soul.