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.