What's Wrong With My Vagina?! || Vaginismus 101

Author: Rowan Ellis

- Hey it's Rowan, and today we're gonna be talking about vaginismus. "What is vaginismus?" you ask. Well, here is the NHS definition: Recurrent or persistent involuntary tightening of muscles around the vagina whenever penetration is attempted. Another definition, it is the spasmodic contraction of the vagina in response to physical contact or pressure. What does that mean in practise? Well, actually the symptoms of vaginismus vary wildly between different people. So, some people it's like Fort Knox up there, nothing's gettin' in.

Some people can maybe get a tampon in, but wouldn't be able to have penis in vagina or PIV sex. Some people can have PIV sex, but it is extremely painful. So there are a couple of reasons why I wanted to make this video.

One, this is a condition that I have, so, fair warning, you're about to hear much more about my genitals than you ever wanted to before, so, get ready for that. And two, this is something that the more I talk about it with people in real life the more I realise how common it is, but how much people are not talking about it. So, hopefully this video is something that will be useful or interesting to you, and something that you can share with people in your life that you think might need to hear about it. Chapter One: The first time Rowan tried to put something in her vagina.

So, like with most people who have vaginas, the first thing was a tampon. This is something that I wasn't that worried that I couldn't get in at the time. I started my period when I was 11 and this was kind of given to me as a selection box from my mother. So I had pads, tampons, all that jazz. And I think there's this cultural idea that you kind of start with pads and you graduate to tampons. At the time, I was kind of like, "Oh fair, I can't use it, "but maybe when I'm 13, I'll try again." But I think it's also worth noting that this is the time of your life when you start to really be talking about sex and sexuality and virginity and stuff like that. Because when you talk about virginity, as someone who has a vagina, when you lose it, it's very much like, "It's going to be painful, "and awful and you're gonna bleed everywhere, "and it's not going to be fun for you whatsoever." And so I know a lot of people who have had sex the first few times and not realised what was wrong because there's just this assumption that if you have a vagina, sex will be painful. I think it's also very telling that one of the main causes, if you look up vaginismus, listed will be sexual trauma.

What's Wrong With My Vagina?!  || Vaginismus 101

The idea that if someone goes to punch you, even if they don't actually punch you, you have a physical response. You have a tensing or a flinching back response. So the idea is, if you've had sexual trauma in your past, then you're gonna have this involuntary response to what is perceived as being similar to the act. And I don't think that there's an insignificant amount of people who have not had a physical trauma, but the idea of, and the expectation of sex being traumatic could potentially have an effect here, as well. Chapter two: other things Rowan has tried to put inside of her vagina. So I periodically kept trying to use tampons and it wasn't working, and I was kind of a bit like, "All my friends are using them, "and maybe I'm just doing it wrong." So I had a little rummage with my fingers, and for me, I'm very much the Fort Knox type. So nothing is getting in there, it literally feels like there's a wall there a kind of textured wall, very uncomfortable, it feels a bit like touching raw skin. So this is the part where we talk about something that I think a lot of people have experienced with vaginas, which is how the medical profession sometimes is not the best at dealing with them.

So I've left some links below to do with how there's sometimes an underfunding of women's health, and also sometimes a devaluing of women's pain. So the idea that doctors, especially male doctors, won't believe women when they talk about how much pain they're in, which is linked a lot to gender stereotyping. So I went, and without fail, when I go to doctors about this, and even once I was diagnosed and said I have vaginismus, this isn't gonna happen, they still insist on attempting to shove things into me, which is not good in any way, shape, or form, especially as something which the main cause is sexual trauma to kind of potentially re-traumatize people every time they go to the doctors, which is a place that's meant to helping them is not helpful. That disbelief which I think is something, that's really difficult when you're dealing with something that is so nebulous, and so difficult 'cause it's not something you can see, and it's involuntary. So it's important to note that people can be the most aroused they've ever been, they can be with partners that they completely trust, they can be alone having fun, they can be in any situation, and this will happen.

It's completely outside of their control, and therefore, it's outside of their knowledge a lot of the time. Now I think it's important to talk about causes, because it's also then important to talk about treatments. So if you know the cause, then the treatment becomes maybe a bit more obvious. But the cause is always sexual trauma, or seen as sexual trauma, the treatment becomes things like therapy, to get over your sexual trauma. But if you don't have sexual trauma, how can you go through therapy? Another, what I find hilarious, with the kind of vaginismus I have, therapy that's kind of offered is a physical therapy, where they just give you dildos, that's the therapy.

They're very small some of them, but I'm like, if I can't get a pinky finger in there, how do you think I'm gonna be using these various size, what they call dilators? So there's kind of a lack of treatment, and I think that I have been extremely lucky in that I do not need or want treatment for anything other than medical reasons. So obviously you can't have a smear test or a pap test when you have this, because nothing can get in there. For me, I don't really mind not using tampons. I am queer, and therefore have a different relationship to penis and vagina sex, I think, than a lot of straight and cis people do. But I do know that there are a lot of my friends who don't necessarily want penis and vagina sex, but there is this idea and this pressure that that is what you sort of have to do, and that if you can't do that, then somehow you've failed as a woman sexually, this is something that is needed to fulfil you, even if you don't necessarily enjoy it, and I think that's a lot to unpick.

So the queerness for me works out, because when you're dealing with two different people who don't have the expectations of the main event in bed is going to be that you put this body part inside of me, and that is going to be the be-all and end-all of sex for us. It means that there's often more communication, if you're with people who are trans and non-binary, or have any kind of gender dysphoria, then you also need to talk about which body parts they're comfortable with being touched in particular ways, and so that open communication means that, absolutely, you can say, "I don't want anything inside my vagina." And they're like, "Sweet, that's totally fine. "We can do other stuff." Straight and cis friends I have who have this condition where it feels like it's a ticking time-bomb. It feels like they won't be loved, it feels like their relationships will fail, it feels like men will never love them unless they fix this inside themselves, as opposed to being like, "Sweet, "this isn't my manifest destiny "to have something inside of my vagina "at any and all times. "I am totally fine with not having that, "I can still have a fulfilling sexual relationship "and so can my partner. "We just won't do it in that very particular way." Which, to be honest, for me, regardless of how you identify, in terms of gender or sexuality, feels like a much more healthy response, personally. And I kind of wish that that was there.

I feel like this heteronormativity and the idea of like, this is what the norm is and this is what you have to do as a requirement, means that there are probably a lot of people who are forcing themselves to do things that they don't necessarily want to do 'cause that's what they're told they need to want. So before we end, a quick recap as to what is going on with my vagina at this point in my life, especially for people who think or do have vaginismus, and are worried about how much it might negatively affect their lives personally. I cannot use tampons or Mooncups, still, nothing will go up there, so I am fine using pads at the moment. I have not had a smear test even though I am 25, because being queer means that I am much less likely to get cervical cancer. I was also the age where I could have the inoculation against it.

So it has been basically decided that when the doctors think it's necessary, I will have an operation, be put to sleep, and have it done while I'm asleep, and that's something that we've kind of negotiated and works out fine, so that gets around the medical side of things. And in terms of sex, I can have very fulfilling sexual relationships with people, turns out, without having anything inside my vagina. So that's also working out. So for me, it's something that I am very comfortable with not having treatment for and I feel like treatment would not really be that useful for me, it would just be making me prescribe to this idea of what I should be doing with my body.

And now that I understand it, I feel a lot more comfortable with it. Having said that, if this is something that you feel like you need treatment for, you want treatment for, I will leave some links below, and I really hope that in the comments, anyone who has had any experience with this will leave their stories, and kind of talk about what's going on with them so that people can kind of find each other, and maybe find some support, and some stories that are similar to theirs. If you would like to help support me make these videos, I'm gonna leave a link to my Patreon below, along with links to my social media, so you can find me all over the internet. And until I see you next time, bye.

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