Mental strength required!
May 27, 2016 at 2:37 pm #19267
My story is probably no different from everyone else’s that has written on this board, but sometimes you just need that moral support to help in what seems an impossible situation.
My fiancee and I have been together for coming up to 10 years, we met at University and have struggled with the challenges of Vaginismus ever since. Whilst at University we tried a number of times to make full intercourse happen, but for some reason it didn’t, since then I feel as though i’ve had a constant mental weight weighing me down. After we had tried a few times at University our attempts have become less and less frequent, now we are both 29 and still nothing has happened, I wouldnt be able to tell you when the last time was that we tried to have full intercourse together. We do try to express our sexual feelings for others in different ways but even the frequency of these interactions have decreased.
The last few years have been a particular struggle, we moved in together, i started a new job and became attracted to someone at work. I must stress that nothing happened with this person at work but the feelings of lust and physical attraction made it hard to concentrate and focus on loving my girlfriend when i got home, knowing that nothing sexual was going to happen. My attentiveness to her dropped and we nearly broke up over it. I have been unable to speak to anyone else about this as its such a private topic! She doesn’t want anyone to know about our difficulties and I dont really want to moan at her for the situation as it isnt her fault! After the occasion we nearly broke up we purchased dilators to try. She had some joy with the dilators, however this was over a year ago and the dilators have long since been packed away with no further follow up. Our sexual encounters have become infrequent and at times i struggle to get sexually aroused by her, i’m unsure if this is become i’ve become conditioned to think ‘nothing will happen so dont bother’ or have just wanted not to stress her out thinking that if it doesnt work then what will happen. By doing this I have buried my head in the sand and now pursue a sad sexual existence of masturbating on a regular basis by myself privately.
Thoughts about this have come to a head more recently as there is another person i have become sexually attracted to at my place of work. I know that i should not be attracted to someone other than my fiancee but it does become very challenging and makes me think thoughts like, ‘have i chosen the wrong partner’, ‘ will i ever have sex again?’ and ‘Will we ever be able to have children’. I then get thoughts about this new person away from work, probably linked back to the thought of sexual attraction which negatively effects my mood at home with my fiancee. I dont want to repeat what happened last time but I can almost feel those thoughts coming back, i.e. have i picked the right partner. This doesnt help as i always have thought of myself as someone who has a fairly high sex drive.
To add to this my Fiancee recently lost a close family member so i no longer feel i can make sexual advances because she is still hurting from the loss of that person.
I feel awful in myself for writing this, but in other ways it does feel better to be able to write all of this down even if i get no replies from this. I feel that this situation does put me under significant mental pressure and it feels as though i have been carrying it with me for a long long time. Just to be able to share this does feel quite liberating as i’ve been living it with so long now.
Thank you for reading my ramblings.
FredMay 27, 2016 at 6:33 pm #19270
Hi Fred. Welcome to the Forum and thank you for your post. I am so, so sorry for what you guys are going through with vaginismus. I had vaginismus all through my 20s and into my early 30s. I started dating my then boyfriend (now husband) at age 25 and he went through this with me through the age of 34 when we overcame. So many of the things you describe, he also felt while going through this. I, too, felt so private about having it and my hubby also and we told nobody which made it so, so, so much more difficult. What you describe concerning your sexual encounters now is so similar to what we experienced. We would try to be sexual with oral sex as well as touch and enjoyed this at times but he rarely initiated as he, too, did not become turned on due to our horrible attempts with insertion (i.e. finger, vibrator, anything) and me being so in pain I would cry and it just wasn’t possible because of this wall of resistance. It took a huge toll on the both of us. As far as using the dilators, I was never successful with this personally but some women are and it does work to help them overcome. Do you remember which dilators she used (i.e. plastic, silicone, etc.)? I have used the Pure Romance ones and have found them to be the best by far as they are a softer silicone material and have handles which made insertion, removal and reinsertion much, much easier for me. I would love for her to join the Forum too but I also understand from going through it how much you don’t want others to know of your difficulties or what is going on. I would be so open to emailing with her one on one as well and just chatting about my own experiences with vaginismus and anything at all. If you think she would ever want to do this, please let me know. I, again, can only speak of what helped my hubby and I to finally overcome. We had 9 years of zero penetration (25-34) and ended up finding Dr. Pacik through me researching “treatment for vaginismus”. He offered the Botox treatment program which included the procedure as well as counseling for the 2 of us after and follow-up. The procedure took about 30 minutes total. It was done under anesthesia and I woke up with the largest dilator inside of me. For me, this was the first time that something was inside of me period and it caused no pain whatsoever. My hubby and I were both in shock. Then, we practiced inserting, removing, and reinserting the dilators of different sizes. I felt so weird involving my husband at first but this was so important to do because for the first time, he could see that something was able to be inside of me and it did go in and did not cause the usual crying tears of pain. He needed to see this and it helped him to realize that when we did have sex, he wouldn’t hurt me either. 2 weeks following my procedure, I used the dilator for about an hour and then my hubby removed and inserted himself and we were finally able to make love. After this, we had to do a lot of work together to learn how to feel sexual again. He still had difficulty initiating as he went from never being able to do this to now being able to do it whenever we wanted and we worked through it and went on dates again. Now, we have a 1 year old and, again, have to make the time to do these date nights again. While Dr. Pacik is now retired, Congtythamtu Women’s Sexual Health does offer the Botox treatment program and the group was trained by Dr. Pacik. I encourage you guys to think about. This was the one treatment that finally worked to help us overcome. Please know that you have my support and the support of the Forum as does your fiancée and, although it is so difficult now, please know that it will not always be like this and you guys will overcome!June 3, 2016 at 11:59 am #19288
Thank you for taking the time to get back to me, apologies i’ve not been able to respond sooner!
No, i’m afraid she isnt a member of the forum, we had looked at the forum over a year ago now so i remembered you all from there!
I feel as though i need to bring up the topic of our sex lives with my partner again, i’m starting to wonder if i have the mental strength to keep going on like this as at times it feels all consuming and i cant get it out of my thoughts!
In terms of my feelings at the moment, I’m not sure if i’ve become used to the idea that my sexual relationship is poor and thaat i should accept this and love her for all of her other great strengths or to move on. Some times when these thoughts get into my head i think about whether or not this has beeen nearly 10 years of our lives wasted, whether it could have been better spent finding partners with different sexual expectations perhaps? My thoughts then seem to turn to the practicalities of what would i actually do if we did split up.
The real source of this problem seems to lie where i come into frequent with someone who I am attracted to sexually, my thoughts divert to thinking what would life be like with them and, as with most day dreams it all seems rosey! There happens to be someone who is now working in my office who i am very attracted too which makes things very difficult! I have also been reading articles online about sexless relationships/marriages and nearly all of them say that it becomes extremely difficult so leave the other person! My personality is one that is fairly easily influenced, but one that procrastinates a lot so this is a constant thought in my mind.
I have no idea what to do as a next step, im unsure if i want to bring up the talk of sex when she is still going through the grieving process after her grandma passed away 2 months ago, but this is really getting to me now.
Thank you once again for listening to my ramblings!
FredJune 7, 2016 at 6:57 pm #19311
Nicole Tammelleo, MA, LCSWModerator
I am so glad the forum has been able to help you express your feelings and frustrations. I have seen so many couples struggle with similar issues. It sounds like you really care about your fiance and I think it would be best to discuss some of these issues with her, as they will only build up further, and could run to resentment. However, in terms of timing I do understand that she has just lost someone close to her and you may want to wait until she has finished grieving. That being said, you cannot put off the conversation forever, and while it is a hard conversation to have you will both be able to discuss issues that I am sure you both have on your mind. Another thought is to try couples counseling, for many people it can be a safe place to discuss difficult issues.
As you probably already read on the Forum there are treatments for vaginismus other than dilation. Heather gave you a great description of her experience with Botox. We here at MAZE are now doing the Botox treatments on a monthly basis. We see patients from all over the world who fly in for this specific treatment! We offer a free phone consultation if you would like to hear more about the treatment.
All the best,
Nicole at MAZEJune 10, 2016 at 3:37 pm #19339
Hi Fred. I completely agree with Nicole and think it would be a good idea to talk to your fiance. While my hubby and I did not attend couples counseling personally, many couples have both while going through vaginismus treatment and after being vaginismus free. Please know that we are all here for you both and send our support!!!June 18, 2016 at 2:35 pm #19379
Hi Fred. I wanted to check in to see how you are doing and if you had the talk with your partner? I found a good article with some helpful tips that I wanted to share:
Tips for initiating the conversation include:
“Clear the space.
Over time, resentments can start to take up more and more room in a relationship – to the point where you cannot discuss what you need to because of everything that is in the way. It might seem counter-intuitive, but ask your partner what is bothering them about the relationship – the relationship, mind you, not you. This is not an opportunity for finger pointing, rather an exercise in clearing the space so you can discuss what really needs to be discussed.
Ask the right questions.
Too often, we assume we know what our partner is thinking. Diana, 51, thought her partner was constantly angry and resentful they weren’t having sex more regularly. They have two teenage children and demanding jobs – and their sex life had waned. When her therapist suggested she ask Max what would make him feel more loved, Diana knew he would say “more sex” – so she was surprised when he shared that he felt she never saw him anymore. All he asked for was a kiss in the morning and a hug when they got home from work. Additionally, Diana was feeling like all the child-rearing decisions were falling to her, but in their conversation, she learned Max thought she wanted everything done her way, so he was trying to step back to allow her to have that happen. By asking him what would make him feel more loved, Diana was able to get into Max’s world and understand what was in the way for him. Those small moves helped them create more intimacy in their relationship on a daily basis.
How often have you tried to have a meaningful conversation and your partner has had to rush off? Or you are interrupted by a phone call? Intentionally setting aside time to connect and talk creates a committed conversation space with no excuses. Just 15 minutes can open up a new level of conversation – and help you both see what you have been missing.
An exercise in listening.
When we think about communication, we often think about talking. However, the other component of conversation is just as, if not more, important. Try this exercise in uninterrupted listening: set a timer for five minutes and for the entire time, listen to what your partner has to say. Don’t give any advice or feedback – you are there to purely listen. Notice what it is to be completely present to what they have to say. Once the timer has sounded, it is your turn to be heard, uninterrupted.
Having a third party discuss your relationship with you can feel strange – but it might just be the outside perspective you need. Having your needs aired in a neutral environment means being able to take a more detached perspective – and sometimes it can be easier to hear what your partner is saying when it comes out of someone else’s mouth. The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) or the Society for Sex Therapy and Research are both great resources.
Think back to the early days in your relationship. What did you enjoy doing together and what attracted you to each other? Block time to do some of those things. Tell your partner what you love about him or her and talk about some of your favorite, shared experiences. Let the evening unfold and the connection build, and if and when the moment is right, talk about what you would love more of and how you can do it together. Don’t try to address everything in one night. Schedule regular dates and use most of it to just have fun and rediscover each other.
Commitment to the journey together
Realize that the discussion may take more than one conversation for you both to get on the same page. Maybe you need to trade articles and literature to understand where you are both coming from. Maybe it is the regular planning of a quiet, uninterrupted hour together once a week. Once you start to open the conversation, don’t let it close.”
I also found a further article from Vaginismus.com that I wanted to share:
“How Men Can Help Their Partners
Being supportive – A supportive, loving relationship based on encouragement and mutual respect provides an excellent backdrop for a woman to work through the program. It can be physically and emotionally draining for women to walk through some of the steps alone. When men encourage and support their partners, it allows them to focus on the program instead of on immediate relationship concerns. Support can be paramount to a woman’s success. Men should consider simply asking their spouses how they would like them to be involved. By participating in and helping with the treatment, spouses have the opportunity to be part of something that draws them closer as a couple. It can be an incredible opportunity and feeling to be part of another’s healing process, especially when the other person is someone deeply cared for.
Walking the steps together – Men can help their spouses by walking together with them through each step of the program. Reading through the steps together helps men fully understand the mechanics of treatment and aids them in understanding where their partners are both emotionally and physically. Helping their partners work through areas of fear and confusion heightens bonds of trust as couples get to know each other in more intimate ways going beyond intercourse. When men become educated about vaginismus themselves, they are able to talk to their partners knowledgeably and rationally. Men can help their partners stay motivated, focused and moving forward through emotional hurdles, stress and feelings of failure. Participating willingly and knowledgeably in those exercises that involve them directly also helps smooth the transition from painful intercourse or penetration problems.
Celebrating success – What may seem like a small step to men may actually be a huge victory to women going through treatment for vaginismus. Small gifts such as going out to dinner, buying a small present, writing a congratulation note, or giving a massage, etc. may help encourage women through the process. Celebrating and making each victory feel special will help spouses to view the process as being worth the challenge. When men are showing interest and positive excitement about progress it helps women stay motivated to continue moving forward.
Staying positive and patient – As men often await anxiously for their spouses to progress through steps, there is a tendency to project pressure and negativity which can play on their spouse’s feelings of stress and failure. Men should try to stay positive and patient in their attitude, maintaining a hopeful, balanced outlook. Being strong and steady, during periods where spouses feel weak or vulnerable, creates an assured environment that helps women to feel more confident and hopeful.
Continuing to be intimate – We urge couples to continue to share an intimate lifestyle even if intercourse is not possible yet (note that during early steps of the program intercourse should not attempted). Complete avoidance of sexual generally amplifies relational troubles and makes the problems worse. Without physical , feelings of fear, shame, guilt, or rejection tend to accumulate. Men can attempt to foster a continuous, viable sex life, temporarily without intercourse, by seeking alternative ways to give and accept pleasure with their spouses. One of the positive aspects of vaginismus for couples is learning to please each other in ways not previously considered. Sensual body touch and manual stimulation can reduce tension and form trust. While going through the early treatment steps, it is best to remove the pressure to perform penetrative intercourse from the sexual equation, however it is important to form intimate bonds through other sexual intimacy options.
Join the forum – Another way to assist in the process is to join the vaginismus forum. Men can read for themselves the struggles of other couples to develop a greater understanding of the obstacles and to be encouraged reading about other’s victories.
Not becoming overly passive – There is a tendency for men with spouses facing vaginismus to become overly passive and to “bury” their sexual nature and desires for intimacy. When attempts to consummate or develop sexual intimacy fail and cause their spouses ongoing anxiety or sadness, there is a natural tendency to bury these desires to avoid further anguish. If men become overly passive, they may not advocate for their own needs and if continued may allow their spouses to procrastinate on treatment and amplify relational problems. We recommend that men try to calmly, but firmly, encourage their spouses to move forward with treatment. Men need to advocate for themselves too, and insist for resolution of the sexual component for the relationship to function properly on a long-term basis. As vaginismus treatment is highly successful, it is unnecessary for men to take a position of lifelong suffering and sacrifice. Sexless marriages generally weigh heavily on both partners and usually result in failed relationships and/or emotional damage if nothing is done to restore the sexual component and bring healing. For these reasons, we encourage men to take responsibility and continue gently advocating for restoration.
A Positive Future
Fortunately, vaginismus is a condition that has positive treatment solutions (as opposed to other debilitating conditions with few treatment options). Couples are elated at reaching treatment completion and pain and penetration problems are no longer an issue. For previously unconsummated couples, going from impossible intercourse to having full, pain-free intercourse is a realistic, normal outcome.
Going through the trials of vaginismus can definitely test a relationship, but successfully going through treatment together can also strengthen it. Encouragement, love, patience, and communication can go a long way in helping to sustain relationships. By overcoming together, couples will be able to begin afresh in creating new and pleasurable sexual experiences and enjoy a strengthened relationship in the process.”
I hope all of this helps. Please let us know how you are doing and please know that we are all here for you both!!!! Sending support today!!!!August 4, 2016 at 5:31 pm #19599
Hi Fred. I know it has been a while. I wanted to see if you ever had the conversation with your fiance and how it went? Please know that we are all here to support you both!!!December 30, 2017 at 9:21 am #22294
As a man going through vaginosmus with my partner for well over a year now, it baffles me how much mental strength it really takes through all this. I’ve lost my mind too many a times over this!
This process does make a man feel lonely through all of this! It hard to explain it, especially all the emotions you go through. But I wanted to let you know that you NOT ALONE!
I hope all went well with your partner!
#CrossingFingersJanuary 5, 2018 at 12:20 pm #22322
I really appreciate the honesty and depth of your post – it’s very powerful. You’ve gone through so much with your partner, and there are so many on this forum that can relate to you and your situation. Yes, SO MUCH MENTAL STRENGTH is required for the men. I hope things are resolved by now!
If you are still stuck in the same situation, just know that it is important and VERY REASONABLE for your fiance, (if she does want to overcome vaginismus and eventually be able to have sex), to take steps to do so! Vaginismus is sooooooo treatable, but it won’t go away on its own. It is important and fair for her to take some action (even if small steps at first) to overcome vaginismus and her fear of penetration that comes with it. Since she already has the dilators but is unmotivated to try them, this next step could be in the form of: doing the phone consultation with Congtythamtu to talk about her struggle/get advice, making an appointment with another vaginismus/pelvic floor therapy clinic or specialist (Google some around your area – there will be some!), or even starting out by just looking through this forum to read all of the success stories to give her the confidence that she WILL be able to overcome this. Vaginismus can be a lonely and shameful thing until you realize there are many others going through the same thing, and SO MANY who have overcome it.
You seem very supportive & can continue to remind her that her vaginismus is *not* a horrible, untreatable thing (at first I thought it meant something was super wrong with me and I wasn’t ever going to be normal) – vaginismus is completely treatable! Many people who couldn’t even get a tampon in (me) were able to overcome vaginismus with the use of dilators with the help of a specialist (Congtythamtu Women’s Health for me).
I hope this thread has helped – definitely let me know if you have any questions or concerns… good luck and we are all here for you and your fiance.
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