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Author Topic: I'm scared of putting anything inside me?
rubyred09
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So, I'm not really sure where to start with this...

I'm 21 years old and I've never been able to insert anything into my vagina. When I first started my period at 13 I was too scared to even try tampons; a few years later I tried to try tampons but I got too scared to even push it in very far so I gave up.

I've been dating my current boyfriend for almost two years and the first time he tried to put a finger inside me we discovered that it was almost impossible. I was entirely shocked, because I felt very aroused and I really wanted him to put his fingers inside of me. I tried a few times on my own and eventually was able to put 2 fingers inside myself without much discomfort, but when he tries it just hurts. It has gotten to the point now where just thinking about putting my own finger inside myself makes my heart start racing - in a bad way, obviously.

The last time we tried anything like that, I told my boyfriend to go ahead and try, but before he even got near my vagina the words "please don't" came out of my mouth in a desperate whimper...I could't even control it. Of course he stopped and told me it was okay, but I'm so frustrated. He keeps telling me we'll figure it out and he is the most loving and patient person I know, but I hate myself for not being able to do the things I think I should be able to do. I love him so much and every time I get upset about this he comforts me and tells me that he'd never leave me even if I could never have vaginal intercourse with him, but that doesn't make me want to fix this any less and it doesn't make me much less upset; I just want to be normal.

Also, I know I need to see a gynecologist at my age but I'm absolutely terrified; I can't do it. Just thinking about it makes me want to cry, so I can't imagine what a scene I'd make if I actually tried it.

Also, my boyfriend can touch my breasts and clitoris without any freaking out from me; it's just my vagina that's the problem.

I feel like the biggest baby in the world right now, but I have no idea who to talk to or where to start to figure out how to deal with this.

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rubyred09
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Also, I've got some anxiety issues in pretty much every other area of my life as well; I get anxious about basically everything, and sometimes nothing at all. So I'm sure that isn't helping me.
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September
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Welcome to Scarleteen, Ruby. I am sorry to hear that this has been so hard for you.

There are a few things we can talk about to figure out what is going on here, but I also think that a really important first step would be for you to see a gynecologist, so we can rule out any physical causes for your discomfort and pain.

Now, I realize that sounds super scary, but it does not have to be. Gynecological exams can be really uncomfortable for a lot of people, for various reasons, so doctors (usually) react pretty well when you let them know you need some extra support and care, and you can communicate to them what it is that you need.

In the meantime, we can also talk about some other possible causes for what's going on here. For example, do you remember what you were afraid about specifically when this first started? How do you feel about your genitals in general? Did you grow up with any shame around genitals and genital sex?

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-joey
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rubyred09
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Hmm...when this first started I wasn't nearly as terrified of putting something inside me. I just remember wanting to be able to use a tampon, but feeling incredibly strange about having something inside my body like that. I wasn't scared that it would get stuck or lost inside me or anything like that, I don't think, it was just something new and it scared me.

As far as how I feel about my genitals in general...I thought that I was fine with them, but now I'm not so sure. I didn't grow up with shame, exactly, but I didn't grow up with openness, either. Nobody ever really talked to me about sex; my mother found me a website to look at to read about sex and menstruation and stuff and that was pretty much it, so I guess that might have sent the message that sex was something that I wasn't supposed to talk about. When I dated my first boyfriend at 16 my mom said to tell her if I wanted to go on birth control because she didn't want me getting pregnant (not in a way that implied that I was having sex, necessarily, she was just trying to be helpful, but that wasn't helpful at all).

And when you put it that way a gynecological exam doesn't sound quite so scary I guess...maybe I should mention that I'm scared of doctors in general; I get scared before seeing my regular doctor and even my dentist sometimes. I can't stand people who aren't close to me touching me.

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Robin Lee
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HI rubyred09,

As Joey mentioned, a visit to the gynecologist (or, if your general practitioner does pelvic exams and you'd feel more comfortable starting there, a visit to your GP) would be a good first step.

You also mention having pretty significant anxiety in other areas of your life as well as this one. Have you ever talked with a doctor or counsellor about this anxiety? If not, that would also be a good place for you to start.

Do you feel like you have a good sense of how your genitals work--for example, the shape and length of your vagina?

I'm wondering if, while you're working on figuring this out, it would be a good idea for you to just take the possibility of penetration out of your sexual relationship with your boyfriend--just take it right off the table as a possibility to ease the pressure you're putting on yourself. What do you think?

--------------------
Robin

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rubyred09
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I have talked to a doctor and a therapist about my anxiety, and it's mostly under control in other areas of my life; I still get anxious sometimes, but I have ways to deal with it - prayer/meditation, taking a walk, talking things over with friend, writing down how I feel, etc. I was on an anti-depressant for a while (my college psychologist prescribed it, and it pretty much just turned me into a zombie so I stopped taking it after about six months).

And yes, as of now we have taken penetration off the table; I've explained to him that the more we try the worse it gets, especially if we try and it hurts. That's how it got this bad in the first place, because it was still difficult and uncomfortable but not nearly this difficult and painful before we tried insertion and it caused me pain. So it is off the table, but I guess in my head it still isn't. I guess I'm just angry and I don't want to have to take penetration off the table; I feel like it isn't fair and I shouldn't have to even though that's clearly the best option right now.

Also, I feel like I do have a good sense of how my genitals work, in theory, but in practice I just don't feel like my vagina is big enough? I know it's supposed to expand when I'm aroused and all that but I just feel like that doesn't happen, or it does but as soon as penetration is attempted my muscles contract so I can't tell if it's expanded or not.

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Robin Lee
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It sounds like you have several anxiety-management strategies. It sounds like they're not helping a lot in this situation, though.

When you esay that it's not fair to have to decide that you're not ready for penetration, what do you mean? Who is it not fair to?

I'm not sure if this will help at all, but it's actually pretty common for people to need to decide, for one reason or another, that certain sexual activities aren't going to work for them at a given time.

The vagina does lengthen and expand for most people when they're aroused, but yes, those pelvic muscles clenching is going to reverse that process to some degree or other depending on how tightly they clench. Plus, that expansion doesn't always impact the opening of the vagina.

When you have tried penetration with your own fingers, have you used any kind of lubricant? Lubricant (even if one produces a lot of vaginal secretions) can help reduce friction, and ease the way when things are tight. You said that you inserted a couple of fingers with only slight discomfort. Was there any other feeling besides that mild discomfort?

What do you think about making an appointment to get a pelvic exam soon, so you can rule out any possible physical causes and continue working on this from there?

--------------------
Robin

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rubyred09
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I have used lubricant, which definitely helped, but I still felt tight and it felt uncomfortable. The few times that I was able to insert a few fingers there was just mild discomfort, but at other times just one finger has caused quite a bit of pain,especially as the finger was being removed (whether it was my finger or my boyfriend's finger).

I do think that I should make an appointment to get a pelvic exam soon, but I'm not exactly sure how to go about it. I feel incredibly uncomfortable talking to anyone about where to go or how to make the appointment...no one has ever really talked to me about the gynecologist before so I just don't even know what really happens at an appointment or how to schedule an appointment.

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September
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We have an article that sums up what happens during a gynecological visit, so you can give that a read through:
Your First Gynecologist Visit

In terms of where to go, do you have a regular doctor that you go to for your check-ups? If so, you can ask them if they perform gynecological exams. If they do, you can make an appointment there. If not, they should be able to refer you to a gynecologist.

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-joey
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rubyred09
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And I still feel incredibly anxious about scheduling an appointment for a pelvic exam, but I feel better than I did before I posted this question; I think I'm seeing things more realistically/rationally.
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rubyred09
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I don't really go to the doctor for regular check ups or anything...I've gone once or twice but nobody in my family goes to the doctor for anything, that I know of, unless there's something wrong. We have health insurance and stuff, so I don't know why, it's just always been that way.

And thanks for the link [Smile]

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September
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I am glad to hear it! It also helps to remember that, again, plenty of people feel nervous about pelvic exams, especially the first time! That's not unusual at all, and something that a doctor is used to dealing with. You can also mention that, for example, on the phone when you're making that appointment, so they know what's going on.

--------------------
-joey
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rubyred09
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Ehh well, just reading about it almost made me cry and destroyed any confidence I thought I had...I have no idea how I could go through letting a stranger do that stuff to me. I know it's for my health and it's no different that a regular doctor checking out my ears and throat and all that, but seriously, I cannot do this. There is absolutely no way. I'm nauseated just from imagining the scenario.
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September
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Okay, let's take it slow. Breathe, okay?

What part has you freaked out? Can you explain what it is about it that freaks you out?

--------------------
-joey
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rubyred09
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Gah, sorry. Ok, I'm breathing.

I'm completely okay with everything up until "your doctor may insert a gloved finger or two into your vagina"...everything after that completely freaks me out. The idea of someone putting their fingers or anything else into any part of my body is absolutely terrifying, which makes sense I guess since I get anxious even about putting my own fingers into my body.

I think I'm just weird about my body in general. I don't have my ears pierced because the idea of it scares me. I wear glasses instead of contacts because the idea of touching my eyes scares me. When I have a cold and am severely congested I can't use nasal sprays because the idea of them going in my nose scares me. I've got a list a mile long of things that scare me, and they almost all involve things going into my body.

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September
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Alright. So it sounds like you're just fine with most parts of the exam, and it's only the bimanual and speculum exams that make you feel nervous. That's understandable, since they are the most invasive parts of the exams. Since this will be your first exam, and you have documented problems with high anxiety, you can discuss that with your doctor beforehand. You can ask that, given your history and your anxiety, they start with a visual exam, first. In fact, that may be something that a doctor themselves will suggest. Nothing and no one is going to be helped if you freak out in the exam room, so it will be the doctor's aim to ensure that you feel as comfortable as possible about what happens.

It's still smart to get bimanual and speculum exams at some point. But you don't have to start there. You can work your way there very gradually.

Does that sound better?

Additionally, I am wondering if you ever brought those feelings about your body up with your counselor? If not, I suggest you talk about that with them.

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-joey
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rubyred09
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Yes; working up to the bimanual and speculum exams sounds much better, but I just really don't think it would go well right now. So it's okay to explain to my doctor that I feel extremely uncomfortable with those parts of the exam and to not do them my first time?

Also, I no longer see my counselor, but I never brought up those feelings; I had a lot of other stuff going on at the time and honestly, I never thought about all of those things together until just now.

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September
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Yes, it's more than okay to bring this up with your doctor beforehand! As the article details, the exam starts with a conversation, often in a room separate from the exam room, so you have plenty of time and opportunity to get to know the doctor and share any concerns and questions you may have.

Are you still in touch with your counselor? Could you call and ask for an appointment, or a series of appointments, to discuss these issues? It certainly sounds like your fears are not just about your vagina, but about the whole of your body, so taking a holistic approach is called for. For sure, since it's issues around sex that are worrying you the most right now, we can certainly continue to talk about that specifically, and we'll continue to support you in getting gynecological care, but it's a smart idea to tackle this issue at its root, rather than to focus on one aspect of it.

--------------------
-joey
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rubyred09
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I haven't talked to that counselor in over a year, and I only saw her once a week for a few months, but I certainly am thinking that I should talk with either her or another counselor somewhere to talk about this. It would probably be best to find a different counselor because my old one was near my home, which is about a 45 minute drive from where I live now at school.

I didn't realize how interrelated these issues are, but I can see now that rather than being several smaller issues, this is more like one larger issue.

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rubyred09
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One of my biggest concerns right now is using tampons; I'm required to take a swimming class in college and next semester is my last semester, so I can't put it off any longer. But not being able to use tampons is going to be a huge issue, so I'm really not sure what to do about that.
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September
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If you are in college now, a good place would be to start your school's counseling services. They may be able to help you out right there, and if not, they should know someone they can refer you to.

Our minds are pretty amazing and complex machines, and it is often the case that fears or anxieties are interconnected in ways we may not see at first, or have roots that we never would have guessed at. Stepping back, writing things down, or talking to someone about them is often a great way to get a sense for the bigger picture. So, yes, I think a counselor should be able to help you with that.

--------------------
-joey
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"The question is not who will let me, but who is going to stop me." -Ayn Rand

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