As a partner of someone with vaginismus, I can’t truly be inside my girlfriend’s mind*
For Dr. Katz and Dr. Tabisel, working with women to help them through vaginismus is clearly more than just a job. The commitment and energy they bring to their clients are amazing.
The vaginismus treatment was only a couple of months ago and we’re still exploring penetrative sex. We’re not quite swinging from the chandeliers but we’re doing something that seemed unobtainable not so long ago. The emotional impact of vaginismus is still around but I hope it’s lessening over time.
We were both virgins before visiting the Women’s Therapy Centre so neither of us had experience in penetrative sex. As a guy, I wasn’t used to being in a situation where I had sex with my partner every night so I didn’t have an inherent expectation of intercourse.
Before we found out about vaginismus, we were a very sexual couple and had enjoyed many other ways of stimulating each other. When we both believed it was the right time we tried to lose our virginity to each other. As the millions of other couples around the world who have encountered vaginismus will have already experienced, I wasn’t able to slide myself inside my girlfriend, and she felt discomfort and pain even though we were both aroused. We genuinely wanted to be doing what we were doing but our bodies were not cooperating or at least acting as expected. We both took our time, attempted it on different occasions, and took advice from friends. We still had the same result. As I had not had any real previous sexual partners I was unable to know what we were doing wrong and doubted my ability to be a true man.
Once we located a specialized doctor in women’s health in London, UK, and were told about vaginismus, I felt I had a running chance at helping my girlfriend. There was something tangible I could focus my efforts on. I could explore vaginismus and potential treatment for it. Also the doubts I had towards my abilities as a guy were lessened. For my girlfriend, on the other hand, her world had fallen in. The body she had been reasonably confident in up until then had failed her and with the appalling support for vaginismus given by the NHS in the UK a way forward seemed impossible.
I don’t pretend to know for a second all the thoughts, the fears, and the internal turmoil that went on inside my girlfriend’s head during the 2 years between finding out about vaginismus and getting to the Women’s Therapy Centre. I did, and still do, try as hard as I can to understand as much as possible. I try to place myself in my girlfriend’s position and help her work through the emotions she’s dealing with. As a partner of someone with vaginismus, I can’t truly be inside my girlfriend’s mind helping fight her internal fights or be an equal vaginismus sufferer but I do believe that I should do everything else to support her. She’s the one who’s going through hell at times she’s the one that dives deep inside herself to find that fire and that strength. Being caring, patient, understanding, and being willing to not necessarily know exactly what’s going on but at least try your hardest to be there and to be your girlfriend’s rock is the least you can do as a partner.
If I had to say something to the partner of someone who’s in the middle of vaginismus I’d say that the seemingly impossible can be possible. It isn’t just about the end result — it’s about the journey. We never stopped being sexual towards each other and we’re definitely a stronger couple because of vaginismus*.
* Results may vary from person to person