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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sex Basics and Sexual Health » Pain with first intercourse

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Author Topic: Pain with first intercourse
IslaSingaza
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My boyfriend and I started trying to have intercourse on Monday night. It was very late at night, he may have been slightly drunk and I was in the middle of an essay but I did very much want it and I was very aroused and had lots of lubricant. It seems fair it might hurt/be impossible to fit his penis in very far so that it kept falling out then. But we had intercourse again on Tuesday night and it hurt so very much throughout, in a generally uncomfortable sort of way and also rather stinging way.
Last night we again had intercourse, I was in pain throughout and I had to give up fairly quickly because it hurt (it was, very briefly pleasurable when he was moving or I was (which makes it hurt less) but when I was briefly I mean for about 20 seconds). I then did lots of crying because it upset me so much. I really do want to have intercourse with my boyfriend (I spent months almost begging) and it seems unfair that it hurts so much. I am, obviously, not going to be silly and keep doing something that hurts me, but is there any solution to this? I get the feeling that I have a very unstretchy hymen, given that I still visibly have a crescentic hymen, which I think is what causes the burning discomfort during intercourse. What do I do to stop it hurting?

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atm1
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Have you read through the following articles? If not, give them a read over and come back here with questions.

From OW! to WOW! Demystifying Painful Intercourse
First Intercourse 101

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IslaSingaza
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Yes, I have, several times, hence the framing of my first question pretty much within the structure of Demystifying Painful Intercourse.

I haven't seen a GP about anything to do with my sexual health (I'm British, we don't really hold with this "see a gynaecologist once you start menstruating" stuff - my mother's nearly 50 and I'm not sure she's ever seen one); I know I probably have to but I am not a fan of doctors. I saw one for the first time in maybe ten years last week about my anxiety. Not hugely keen on seeing them all the time - I do get the feeling that going once has set me onto a slippery slope of getting actual medical care.

I am aroused (and I'm very aware of when I am) and I do want penetration and I am communicating with my boyfriend. Orgasm beforehand doesn't help and I really, really do want to be able to have intercourse.
I can insert fingers and tampons (but would rather not - tampons are very uncomfortable), so I can't have that bad a hymen. We have been having sex that's not intercourse for the time we've been together and, oddly, we're still quite keen on that. It's not as if we've jumped straight into intercourse. And I find the First Intercourse 101 article actually upsetting in that it has all this "oh, it'll probably be better the second time" and last night wasn't much better, it still really hurt. (This probably ought to be called "Pain with starting intercourse", but that's ambiguous - it's not pain on penetration, it's constant).

Essentially, though, the only thing to do is see my GP, right?

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Heather
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Here are the NHS guidelines for vulval pain conditions: http://www.library.nhs.uk/womenshealth/ViewResource.aspx?resID=30195&tabID=288&catID=6063

In other words, yes, you should start with seeing a healthcare professional, which your National Health Service would also suggest.

I get that if and when there are negative cultural, community or family attitudes around women's health, it can be an extra hurdle to deal with in getting healthcare you need, but I'd encourage you to recognize that ANY attitude or idea that keeps any group of people from sound and needed healthcare isn't something you want to enable, you know?

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IslaSingaza
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It's not cultural problems around women's health, it's a tendency to never go to specialists first and to generally be less up on constant visits to doctors - my family, and most other people, go when we're ill/need help and not otherwise. Actually it's a National Illness Service, mostly due to the funding constraints. I'm very in favour of a National *Health* Service, but that doesn't mean I don't have very intense fears of doctors or of medical treatment. I don't want to see a doctor if I can possibly help it, I don't want to have to the John Radcliffe for a GUM appointment - it's a long walk and it's terrifying and my boyfriend is probably too busy to go with me and my best friend's in another city and I'm really, really not sure I can talk to my mother about this, which is something I'd really need to do if I were to need an operation.

Those guidelines, given that I don't know what's wrong with me, might not be the most helpful thing - they're treatment guidelines, clearly, for a range of conditions, several of which I clearly don't have. Are you trying to suggest I have Provoked Vestibulodynia? None of the others could possibly apply.
Obviously on Monday I should go to see my doctor when they're in college. I haven't found this a remotely helpful conversation at all, am genuinely in tears and you don't seem to have understood how upset and scared I am. I'd tried to convey that.

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Heather
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Isla: it seems clear that no matter how we have responded to you so far, any information we give you upsets you more. I also understand that you know we are going to suggest starting with a GYN exam and doctor's visit, and don't care for that suggestion, but if nothing else we've suggested around vaginal/vulval pain at the site has helped or seems it would, you need to understand that is the only sound next step we can suggest.

And if THAT response is also upsetting and does not seem at all helpful to you, can I ask if perhaps you might let us know what kind of response you're looking for? In other words, while you seemed to be asking for help re: the pain condition, might you instead have been asking for help in terms of talking about your fears with this situation and in seeking medical help with it?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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IslaSingaza
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No, I clearly need to see a doctor. To be able to see a Gynaecologist I would need a referral from a GP. Being told to see my GP to start with would have been the ideal response, given that it was what I was asking. I had very clearly read the articles, just shoving them at me suggests you'd not read what I was saying. Giving me frightening, almost-irrelevant NHS treatment guidelines was clearly not helpful and I have genuinely no idea why you thought it could be.

I need to be told to see a doctor, probably to be told that no, this doesn't sound normal and yes, yes I need to see someone, and I need to be reassured that seeing a doctor won't be awful, because I do think it'll be awful - the GP was very dismissive last time I saw him, although I was admittedly talking about my anxiety problems (I am not anxious about sex. I am anxious about my boyfriend's mental health, which is great fun, and about my work). I don't as yet have a diagnosis so talking like I do is also not a helpful response. And more generally the whole situation is just unfair and I would quite like someone other than me and my boyfriend to say that to me.
I was very obviously asking to be told to see a doctor and asking to be reassured. I am not comfortable with anaesthetic, with people who aren't me or my boyfriend touching or seeing my genitals or with having a problem I can barely mention to anyone. This is very much a problem I can't mention to most people I deal with and probably can't mention to my mother.
Until I actually have a diagnosis, being talked through medical procedures will only freak me out more, though.

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Heather
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By all means, our intent is never to upset anyone. But you also please have to leave room for the fact that even if it seems like the way to answer a given user should be obvious to us, it isn't always. We're human, just like you, and none of us are perfect, nor can we hit a home run every time.

I gave you those guidelines because the impression I got from your post was that GYN care was something you were saying you felt didn't happen in the UK or which wasn't supported. I wanted to illustrate what the NHS suggested for some vulval pain conditions to make clear that kind of care was supported. I did not intend to frighten you.

The links atm1 gave you were, I'd say, a good call on her part, because some pain with vaginal entry may not require a doctor's visit, and especially with someone expressing they want to avoid the doctor, we'd want to see if we couldn't help you find any possible reasons you were having pain that were practical, rather than medical. I don't feel the links were "shoved" at you. They were merely suggested as a place to start.

I don't feel I can honestly say this is "unfair." Human bodies aren't machines, and they don't always work exactly the way anyone wants them to. As well, a lot of the time, people have expectations of sexuality or certain kinds of sex that aren't in alignment with a lot of reality about it, and often enough, some women have pain issues with intercourse, especially at first, and especially in certain situations, some of which are about things like resilient hymens or something expressly medical, other times which are about practical or behavioral issues. However, we certainly understand feeling upset by this, and perhaps obviously would ideally like everyone's sex life to always be everything they idealize it as. Ideally, I'd like for none of us to have to experience physical or emotional pain in our lives. That's just a pretty lofty goal, is all, and not at all likely.

I can't possibly promise every doctor you see will be great, but we could certainly help you organize some questions and verbal approaches that would help you either screen for a good one, or which would likely aid in assuring you get the best care you can.

However, I do think it's fair to say that in order for us to keep having this conversation, it's going to be important you recognize that you're bringing a certain hostility to the table right now that isn't conducive to being productively helped, especially by a free service, okay?

[ 10-24-2009, 07:06 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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IslaSingaza
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So, I saw the female GP who comes to college, with my boyfriend, for about half an hour today. I was really visibly upset from the outset (I don't like doctors, as you might have gathered), to the point where I couldn't speak to begin with and my boyfriend had to start. She really intensely reminded me of his mother, which is never a good thing. So, the GP's suggestions, having told her everything I'd told you, plus that I barely lubricate and the fact that she had my notes on my anxiety, were as follows: use tampons; use dilators; go and have counselling at the family planning centre (I want to avoid huge amounts of counselling, I don't think I'm breaking); wait until I am emotionally ready (seriously what does she think I've been doing); that I am obviously too anxious (this was about the one area of my life where I wasn't anxious. Obviously, no longer the case but seriously, I am actually capable of relaxing sometimes). She used the word "vaginismus" almost immediately, which was nice of her.

It does seem that I think a) anyone is patronising me and simultaneously very thick (I was sarcastic with her, she asked if I was sarcastic with my tutors too - the answer to that is obviously "I'm only sarcastic with people I dislike", after this I had a tutorial with a tutor at whose feet I worship and oddly wasn't sarcastic at. I am hostile, generally, and even more hostile when I feel threatened); b) it is worth getting angry with when they fail to tell me what I want to hear.
My mother did tell me the closest thing to what I want to hear, which is that all I need to do is relax, but that's something I did do. I think there's actually probably something physically wrong with me, and that terrifies me, I'd hope for obvious reasons. Nothing else about this relationship has been fair, so obviously this wouldn't be too, I suppose.

Am being sent for blood tests at some point between the first and fifth days of my period and a physical exam at the surgery after that (apparently it's innappropriate to examine me at the nurse's room - I feel that's not true. I think her call on not touching me when I'm screaming and kicking is probably fair. She seemed to think I was being a burden on my boyfriend. Given that she's seen him for his depression that's really far from the case.)

I am angry. I have been crying lots and lots again and I am angry. I do feel this is genuinely unfair, given that it's my biological purpose, and given that my expectations weren't of a world of pleasure. All I want is intercourse without massive burning pain. I am not sure that's a remotely "lofty" goal. I really don't do much idealising of my sex life. It's a series of nasty/entertaining compromises and it has been a mixture of terrible and amazing and I really don't think my expectations of intercourse are all that off, really.

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Heather
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Given how you're feeling right now, and your reactivity to what we've said in the past, why don't we start by your telling me what it is you'd like from us, okay?

In other words, do you want an opinion on what the GP said? Do you want to talk through your feelings about all of this and get some help processing them? Do yu want help coming up with a practical management plan for all of this?

I do want to qualify that if you need for us to say things like that intercourse is "your biological purpose," and that everyone being able to always have intercourse without any issues, problems or snags that's just not something we're going to be able to say because it stands counter to what we know, and also asks for some values-statements we can't make. I also will have to ask that if you do feel anger when and if we tell you something you don't want to hear that you manage that anger: I'm not going to tell you what is or isn't okay for you to feel, but since it's not our job simply to tell everyone what they want to hear, and sometimes that isn't helpful, we're not going to be able to do anything very productive if you get angry at us for saying things you may not like or just aren't what you want.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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IslaSingaza
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An opinion on what the GP said would be useful, given that you deal with this fairly often and I've never done so before.

Feelings are things I can shout at my boyfriend. I am fairly aware of how I work, I know that I'm stupid to be this upset and that it suggests I buy into some terrible things. But I never said I didn't buy into some terrible things. And I get to be angry and get to be annoyed about it. And I do not want to see any more counsellors. I do mostly think they fall into the "thick" pile, given that the one I'm seeing asked if I 'had a plan' when I told her I had very strong impulses not to be anywhere anymore. Not what that meant.

The practical management plan is clearly not having intercourse. I am too upset to think that's a good idea so gesagt getan there. That cuts out the physical pain.

It is. I don't need you to say it, it clearly is. I was, as Mitchell and Webb say, very clearly built for "stacking". The other things my genitals can do are good, but obviously stacking is one of the things they're meant for. I'm generally angry and hostile, I hate almost everyone and everything most of the time and my counsellor seems to think that's a problem, although I'm not sure why. My anger is only really directed at you because I think people ought to be able to read my mind and am eternally shocked when they can't. Not being as transparent as I think I am always amazes me.

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Heather
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Well, I won't dwell on this because it's not what you're asking for, but I would concur that strong, hot anger -- especially if it's constant -- certainly could be playing a part. Anger, after all, is a stressor, not a relaxer. And when we are psychologically stressed out, our muscles are tense, not relaxed, and that's going to include the muscles of your vagina. So I would say that if you are generally angry and hostile, that likely is playing a part and learning how to change that mindset probably will help with this issue, as well as with your life overall. And yes, while I hear that you don't want to see any more counselors because you think most of us are stupid, I do think that's going to be something you'd need to do that. There are some alternate possibilities when it comes to stress reduction, anger management and relaxation that don't involve talk therapy, though, if you want to talk about/explore those.

Looking at what the GP said, most of it seems a pretty good bunch of suggestions. I do think suggesting dilators at an initial visit might be hasty, but if you were not given any, or instructions on how to use them, perhaps that was a suggestion for a bit later on, after more examinations and tests?

In giving you all of those suggestions, were they ordered for you in any kind of priority order? For example, start by leaving intercourse off the table for right now, then get some hep with your anger and anxiety, in the meantime, see if using tampons or dilators helps, etc?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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IslaSingaza
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No priority order. Just a long list of things I could pick and choose from. I wasn't given dilators, or instructions, but I was told I could buy them immediately if I wished. I don't want to use tampons. I find them uncomfortable and I get very anxious about TSS, which means I take them out as quickly as possible and doesn't help with the discomfort. I was very clear that I didn't want to use tampons. Dilators is actually the only vaguely attractive option on that list. And she didn't really tell me to stop having intercourse, she said that my boyfriend and I would have to "come to a decision" about that. At which point I may have told her to **** off.

My anger is normal. It is my personality, I am just an aggressive horrible person. And the anger flares up in certain situations. Also, I'm at Oxford, if I don't have constant stress I will just give up - pressure is what makes me work. Being at Oxford may mean I have access to the best of all possible libraries, but it also means I don't eat or sleep and occasionally drink heavily and I'm aware that's probably not helpful. I am, however, not stressed when I have sex - sex is relaxing, mostly. I am generally stressed but I am also capable of being physically and psychologically relaxed. I know what those things feel like, I manage them fairly often even during Term.

Talking therapy is the only thing that could possibly suit me, I just have to find someone who knows who Sartre is and is willing to engage in conversation that starts from knowing what I mean about living in bad faith and not just sit there if she's trained in CBT and I've come about something specific. I find relaxation techniques impossible to take seriously and could barely take the "worry tree" my counsellor gave me seriously because the idea that 'setting worry aside' was in any way safe was utterly ridiculous to me. I am going to try to pursue counselling with the University service - the college counsellor won't see me beyond this week because she also treats my boyfriend and it is apparently a conflict of interests (even though our problems have nothing to do with eachother, and she was the one who named him in the first session, as if I wasn't already aware he'd found my support useful.)

[ 10-26-2009, 01:00 PM: Message edited by: IslaSingaza ]

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Heather
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Generally, the use of dilators is something you'll have a physical/sex therapist for, with a plan for you on size, when to use them, how, etc.

I don't see that you need to use tampons if you don't want to, and just to be clear, if you wanted to try using dilators, I think you CAN DIY that if they're available to you. You also could do something similar with a series of vibrators/sex toys that start small and slim and get gradually larger, if you preferred that.

I honestly can't get on board that some people are just "aggressive, horrible people." I also can't get on board with the idea that it's normal for some people to just be constantly angry. For sure, we only have so much control over our feelings, but those feelings do a) tend to come from somewhere and b) are things we can manage and make some adaptations to.

I know how stressful school can be (including programs at Oxford), and I also understand being motivated by stress. And I hear you when you say that you feel differently during sex than at other times, however, if you're carrying around anger and resentment much of the time, are sleep-deprived, binge drink...all of this kind of stuff is not likely something you are miraculously just totally free of when sex happens or is going to. An given how things have been going with the sex, I'd say it is highly unlikely you aren't having some anger and anxiety when it's going on, or aren't anticipating frustration or pain. Know what I mean?

I'm sure you can find someone who works in psychology who also is familiar enough with the classics of lit and philosophy to know who Satre is. But I also think there's a middle ground we have to bridge with counselors and therapists and understand that both of us are not likely to share the same kinds of expertise: we'll likely have some in an area they don't, and unless we have studied and worked in that field, as patients, we're undoubtedly going to be lacking in at least some of their expertise. As well, based on what the college will cover, or NHS protocols, you're likely also going to be limited in who you get, and that's just going to be how it goes unless you can choose and pay totally privately.

I want to toss you some extra information you may or may not find useful. Women's sexual "dysfunction" (I put that in quotes because the term is so vague, and sometimes includes things like not being interested in sex when a male partner is as dysfunctional) has been approached pretty poorly on the whole, historically, but there have been some good feminist sexologists and clinicians working to adapt approaches to things like vulval/vaginal pain whose work I very much appreciate. Gina Ogden, in particular, has done some great work on this, and she and Karen Hicks developed some very basic suggested clinical guidelines -- which also include things like information and reading -- which you might want to take a look at (it's nothing I think you'll find medically scary): http://cme.medscape.com/viewarticle/515902_12

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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IslaSingaza
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I can't access that link without logging in.

I think I was being told to DIY dilators. I have no problem with doing that, I do have a problem with using them at all. And also a problem with buying them from Ann Summers as the GP suggested because that place makes me feel sick.

I am like Stampy the Elephant from the Simpsons when it comes to being angry. I have just had to compare myself to a cartoon elephant. I hope you understand that that's a new low. Unlike Stampy, I don't want to headbutt everyone - I have never, ever been angry with my flatmate, for example. She may be my Bart; she may also be a lovely, clever person who shares my sense of humour and makes me feel completely comfortable. Also, you deal with teenagers - surely you see lots of people who are just raging, not for any good reason except that they are? When I was 15 all I was was angry, possibly because I was trapped.

I really want people to stop pathologising my personality, in the same way that you want people to stop pathologising sex. You also aren't not pathologising my sex-life. Everyone doesn't actually seem to be listening to me when it comes to this.

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Heather
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Here's another way to get to that: http://74.125.155.132/search?q=cache:-U_TGoHefH4J:cme.medscape.com/viewarticle/515902_12+gina+ogden+vaginal+pain&cd=9&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a

Per the dilators, you shouldn't have to buy them from Ann Summers if you don't want to. To my knowledge, a doctor should also be able to prescribe them so you can get them from a pharmacy.

I have to confess that I don't know how NOT to suggest that constant, chronic anger is a problem -- what you are expressing -- because I have never seen anything at all which suggested otherwise, and sources I respect in mental health say otherwise. I also don't think I'm pathologizing you by suggesting something may be problematic or might make you happier with some changes, especially when what I'm stating is in alignment with what is pretty standard, across the board, as far as these suggestions go and what we know about that kind of mental state when it comes to sexuality. And I certainly am not putting any pathology on your sex life, so I don't understand where you're getting that from.

I am doing my level best to listen to you(which isn't all that easy, because it's terribly tough to help someone who asks for your help but continues to be pretty hostile to you when you give it) and to respond to what you are saying with the expertise and background I have in this arena. However, at a certain point, it's in your court to recognize if and when what I/we have to offer just isn't serving you or is not what you want. If and when that's the case, and when we're doing our best (which I can assure you, we are), it may well be that you just need to keep seeking out someone else who you feel does understand you and can give you what it is you want.

But I'll go ahead and mention this thread to a couple other volunteers. Perhaps you may appreciate their opinions or help more than mine, and this is simply a matter of your not feeling like I'm the right person, personally, for you to be talking to.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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IslaSingaza
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Prescription was not offered by the GP. I went and bought tampons. I am going to do things I don't want to do.

I'm not constantly angry, I'm often angry, it varies ("varium et mutabile semper femina" without the misogyny, essentially). I do, genuinely, most of the time, like myself. I have fairly high self esteem and I enjoy being me. I am, however, starting to sound like the best friend I mentioned earlier, who's very severely mentally ill (although seems to be going with the tag "mentally interesting" instead) and has been getting hugely bitter, not least because no one (outside of her very closest friends) seems to get her. She finds a lot of things very painful at the moment but she couldn't read your responses because it sounded like the things her professionals say to her, where it seems that her personality just isn't acceptable. It's a hard thing to explain but I am very anxious that they are about to throw me into massive amounts of "help", that I might be diagnosed borderline (I'm not borderline). I'm very worried I'm about to lose control over everything, as well as my body. And I don't get how people don't get me, I really don't.

I have another friend who's incredibly weird about sex who has managed to give me better advice than you (and also seems to find this funny, which is genuinely helpful - I do seem to have gotten myself into a series of amusing scrapes) - she's pushing me to keep seeing doctors and has been trying to make me find the right counsellor for my anxiety.

Possibly I find my friends more reassuring, and it is reassurance (for example, 'it isn't the end of the world if you have vaginismus, it's horrible but you will be all right') that I need. They actually like me and I'm aware that they have my best interests at heart - my mother was good too, although not sure I have to do anything more than relax.

I had sex last night and kept throwing my boyfriend off me/rolling into a ball because I didn't want to be touched. I know how hard things are for him, given that he's still hugely, hugely fragile and seems to use being able to physically please me as a boost to his self-esteem. And then we had oral sex anyway and it was really good.

This is why it's unfair: I am 19. I waited so long to find someone I found attractive before I ever even kissed anyone (in March). It turns out, this person is amazingly good fun and interested in metatheatre and funny and really, really nice and he really likes me because I'm so intense. And I get to have conversations about metatheatre in bed. I love him. We rowed quite a lot because it was term and his depression wass getting worse and I'm not very sensitive/am very selfish (one of the first things he ever asked me was what meds I was on. The linking happiness to meds/assumption I was mentally ill are both really scary.) (Manual) sex was bad because it hurts (because of a lack of lubrication; yes, I did realise the implications of this last night) and he had a significantly lower sex-drive than me/just wasn't interested. I let resentment over this build up and then shifted away in bed and start shouting at him. [He appears, just about, to have finally forgiven me for this.] We agreed to keep going out but stop having sex. We started having sex again eventually/after maybe two weeks. He told me he loved me, finally (rather than that he probably did). He got significantly worse over the summer, because he was at home - he came to stay twice this summer (the first time featured revelatory oral sex; the second featured him staring at walls because he was coming off the old antidepressant and starting the next (not something he could do at home)). He threatened suicide down the phone at me, and then went to the GP and switched drugs. I am, apparently, good at supportive - I have spent so much time being supportive, through panic attacks and listening to his worries and offering places to run to. We habitually row, but we reconcile. And then last week, he increased his dose and started feeling good for the first time in pretty much ever. And he had a sex-drive, for once, and everything seemed fairly suitable. And now this has happened and I know he's still hugely fragile and I am getting so upset and even though he's good about it I know he can't take very much/is being ignored in terms of his feelings about this. So this is why it's unfair - he's convinced that he's transferred feeling awful to me. I think that, given that we use condoms, that's not a possibilty. It'd just be nice if something could go well for us for once, other than cunnilingus, which is probably one of two of the positives in our relationship (he makes me come, he's absolutely brilliant company so much of the time). This is the major thing that upsets me, I think, along with the sense that my body hates me, and the fear that I may have a recurring medical problem. And that everyone's throwing things at me and not listening to me being scared.

I find it genuinely odd that you don't get what I'm saying about teenagers and anger (I also know that both the examples I might give for that are of people in psychiatric institutions - Holden Caulfield (who I used to identify with so very much) and Roger from the book Master of Reality (which everyone ought to read) - and that that's a complicating factor.). I am trying, now, to be less visibly hostile and explain what it is I feel. What I feel is like I'm being made ill, both in fact and by people who've decided I must be.

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IslaSingaza
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Problem over, anyway. My boyfriend's suggestion that we just get me very pissed worked - almost painless intercourse ensued. And also suggests that the major problem with me was a very unstretchy hymen. So I refuse to worry anymore.

Thanks for your help, even my GP seems to have decided I was just frightened (and sent me information about psychosexual therapy, which I don't need).

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devoted_love
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Don't worry, I'm the same. About a month ago, I had sex for the first time with my love.
It hurt soo much and I bled too. It happened a few times until I guess i must have stretched. It does hurt now and again. I was having the same thing as you once you have sex a few times it may take longer, it wont hurt much anymore. [Smile]

*hug*

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atm1
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Sex shouldn't hurt--and getting drunk to have sex is really not the answer. When you're drunk, you may be more relaxed, but you may also simply not notice pain that is telling you that something actually is wrong.

Devoted_love you seen these articles? (Isla, I know you have, this is for her benefit).
From OW! to WOW! Demystifying Painful Intercourse
First Intercourse 101

And, Isla, I just noticed this:
quote:
I had sex last night and kept throwing my boyfriend off me/rolling into a ball because I didn't want to be touched.
.

I really hope you don't mean literally throwing him off of you *multiple times.* I'd like you to clarify here, because it sounds like you actively did not want sex (not wanting to be touched means not wanting sex in my book), and he kept trying to have sex with you.

Now, I'm asking you for clarification, since you've been very uncomfortable with us making assumptions. BUT, if that is how this happened, then I strongly encourage you to stop being sexual with this partner *at all*. Given that it sounds like he encouraged you to get drink for sex, and has also pushed for sex when you clearly don't want it, he doesn't sound like a safe partner to me.

If I'm wrong, do clarify what you meant.

[ 10-28-2009, 07:04 PM: Message edited by: atm1 ]

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IslaSingaza
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He didn't keep trying to have sex with me, he kept trying to comfort me. Comfort is not a euphemism; he genuinely was doing things like hugging me and I couldn't bear being touched because the world was too hot and everything hurt. And yes, multiple times, but that was because I would feel okay and then really, really not okay. And when I'd ceased to think that everything was too hot, it was fine.

Also, he made jokes about getting me drunk - his encouraging me was probably more to do with him liking drinking than wanting to coerce me into sex. On Tuesday I was drunk, but actually I'd say that wearing down my hymen was probably more useful - I did notice pain, just significantly less pain. He's a safe partner, seriously.

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TheBexExpress
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I'm not sure if I can post here! It's my first post and I hope this is okay.

I first started attempting intercourse last year, with my boyfriend of the time. I was surprised when I felt pretty serious pain which didn't diminish with deeper penetration. I didn't really feel a tearing hymen, and I don't think mine was intact at the time, and I was confused about the source of the pain. I thought it was just a virgin thing, didn't really think about it as an issue, and kept attempting sex- having to stop every time because of the pain.

When I started dating my current boyfriend (who, I'd just like to mention, is amazing about this as well as every other damn thing), we attempted intercourse a couple of times, after I'd explained my past attempts. I noticed not only extreme pain, but a tightening of the vagina that made penetration incredibly difficult. One time, I pushed myself into completing intercourse, and although I experienced some (very) pleasurable sensations, the pain and tightness continued all the way through. So I then realized that there was something wrong and I went to see a GP.

She was a GP, so she could only tell me so much. I'd done some googling beforehand and learned about vaginismus, which seemed to fit my symptoms exactly. She examined my vagina and we decided that was it. All she could really do was examine me and test for any infections, which could cause this, and prescribe me some muscle relaxants and a mild anesthetic, to see if those would help. They didn't, and their use caused me more stress than good, but we ruled out some medical causes of the disorder.

My GP pointed me towards a sex therapist who specialized in this sort of thing, but I couldn't afford to see her. I found a psychology program at one of the universities here (not mine, my stepmother's) that dealt with sexual disorders, and I'm now seeing a therapist there.

From what I've learned, vaginismus is highly treatable. We're doing something called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which I'm rubbish at defining, but I'm doing sensate focus and relaxation exercises with my partner and discussing my negative thoughts that contribute to my vaginismus, and we'll gradually be introducing penetration. The aim is to achieve full penile penetration without pain, which feels pretty far away. I haven't got dilators, I'll be using tampons first (which I've never been able to use), and moving up to my partner's fingers, and gynecological exams with a speculum. My therapist had me make a list of activities that the vaginismus affects, in order from harmless to most painful, and the idea is to work my way up it.

Your anxiety in relation to other issues is something I (fortunately) haven't got to contend with. And since I already knew I had a problem, in a vague way, when I began dating my current partner, and since I've known him for a very long time, it hasn't caused too much strain on our relationship. While I really, really want to have vaginal intercourse with him, I feel that we have a full and very satisfying sex life without it. But when I found out about the vaginismus, I took it a bit hard- a lot of "why me" thinking, and like you said, feeling absurd because I couldn't fulfill a seemingly simple biological imperative. At times, I felt like less of a woman because of it. I understand how hard it can be to deal with a sexual disorder mentally, the effect it can have on your self respect.

Having my partner with me while I've dealt with this has been a big help. He came along to most of my appointments with the GP, and would come to my sessions with my therapist if he could. But I think seeing this therapist is the most helpful thing of all, making a tangible effort towards fixing this, doing exercises and stuff, but ones that aren't incredibly confronting and painful (I had some bad incidents with those muscle relaxants).

I don't think I answered any questions there but I do have another perspective! And I think you should look into seeing a sex therapist, definitely, or even just ask a run-of-the-mill psychologist and see if they can help. I don't know if all of them can, but looking into it couldn't hurt.

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atm1
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Isla, it's good to hear that clarification--I hope you understood why I was concerned and wanted to check.

Bex, I'm glad you've had a positive experience seeking out care for this. It sounds like you've got a great partner and some good professionals helping you through this. It's really great to get your perspective, and that's some really good advice!

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IslaSingaza
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atm1, of course I understood. But touching isn't always sex.

Bex, I don't have vaginismus, though it was really good to hear about how you'd coped with it and I could have done with that last week! It really doesn't fit my symptoms, which are very much those you'd expect with a very resilient hymen. I can use tampons and I can insert fingers (it's just that both of those things have never really been pleasant so I avoid them), but two fingers used to feel like I was stretching something. And intercourse doesn't necessarily involve constant pain now, really - I'd expect it not to hurt the next time I have it.

It's really great that your GP was so good about this, and that your partner and therapist are still being so. I, though, need CBT for things that aren't sex - my excellent anxiety about the future and my inability to work, et al. Sex is the good part of my life (there's a depressing statement; sex and friends and my boyfriend and the library, actually almost everything is good and I'm aware I'm very lucky to have all of those things) and I don't think I actually have a sexual disorder. I had the word vaginismus thrown at me without a physical exam, which was really good of my GP and totally what you should do when faced with a distraught 19 year old. My boyfriend thinks I look visibly different and he's probably a good judge - that suggests my hymen's eroding. So maybe no more problems for a bit?

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atm1
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Hopefully!

Maybe I missed something, but I would have assumed that your doctor did a pelvic exam.

When I was in my teens and complained to a doc about tampons getting stuck on a stringy bit of skin when I'd pull them out, a nurse practitioner took one peak and did note that I had a hymen that didn't want to break (it was strange... like there was one super strong line of hymen going across. I don't actually know what it was called...). One painless snip with surgical scissors and I was good to go. I still have some bits of that super strong hymen after five years of sexual activity and nearly 10 of wearing tampons, but the problematic part was easily cut off.

I'm just wondering, if it's definitely a hymen problem, if that would be an option for you, too. I just ask, because at least in my case, that was something a nurse practitioner was able to do super easily, and see immediately. I'm really not sure what your doctor said, but if this doesn't resolve on it's own, that might be something to ask about. Depending on how resilient your hymen is, getting it cut off just might be a lot less painful than stretching it.

I know the idea of "just cutting something off" may simply not appeal to you, and that's totally fine. I just thought I'd put it out there. I didn't bring it up before because earlier on you talked about using tampons and not thinking it was a hymen problem. Plus, I know you're not a fan of doctors, and the idea of doctors cutting something off generally doesn't appeal to people who don't like doctors...

No matter what, I hope things go better from here on out.

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IslaSingaza
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No, my doctor did very much not do a pelvic exam.

I really do think I should be fine, but of course if the problem persists I'll go back to my doctor.

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Heather
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And the healthcare provider who told you about dilators and vaginismus didn't make clear a pelvic exam would absolutely be something to get before you or she even considered those kinds of things?

If they did not, that was simply very poor healthcare you got. I assumed you had gotten a pelvic too, given what you reported she told you.

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IslaSingaza
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No. I said I hadn't. I very much said I hadn't, albeit obliquely ("a physical exam at the surgery after that (apparently it's innappropriate to examine me at the nurse's room - I feel that's not true. I think her call on not touching me when I'm screaming and kicking is probably fair.)"). Yes, not exaactly great healthcare, although I probably wasn't in any fit state.
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IslaSingaza
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She used the word vaginismus hugely soon in the consultation, as I recall. It was all really good fun. She also decided I probably wasn't ovulating based on the fact that I had a late (by five days, which I did describe as "very late" because by my very regular standards, it is) last term.
Seriously, it was "go and get dilators and use them yourself". She should be very grateful I don't have vaginisimus.

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TheBexExpress
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They didn't give you a pelvic exam? What in the heck? I mean, the first GP I saw didn't really know anything about female sexual dysfunction, but he at least knew it, and sent me to a different GP in the practice who helped me out. That's a bit rubbish, I'm sorry.

Maybe if you went to get a second opinion you could look into the sort of treatment atmi got! If that appeals to you, that is.

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