I Have a Medical Disorder That Makes Sex Extremely Painful

For most women, having sex is easy, but having good sex is hard.

But if you think having good sex is hard now, imagine what it would be like if you had a disorder that caused your vaginal walls to be permanently tightened, making sex painful and sometimes unbearable?

Bailey, 22* initially thought sex was just painful the first couple of times, then she realized that it might be something more. After years of not knowing what was wrong with her, she finally was diagnosed with Pelvic Floor Dysfunction last summer.

1 in 3 women will experience a pelvic floor dysfunction in her lifetime. Bailey shared her story with us so that you can know the signs, and know how to treat it. Here is her story below, as told by Ashley Uzer.

I lost my virginity when I was 18. Since the first time I had sex, it’s always been painful. The first few times that I had sex after I lost my virginity, it was really painful, so I decided to go to the doctor. My gyno brushed it off and said that I just had bruising from losing my virginity, but a few years went by and I was still having the pain. I kept visiting my doctor and she said everything was fine. She told me it might just be in my head, that I might not be attracted to the person I was sleeping with.

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All I could think was, “Oh my God, everyone’s telling me that this isn’t happening and it definitely is happening.” 

Last year, I refused to deal with this problem any longer. I told my gyno that I was having intense pain and I couldn’t take it anymore, I really thought something was wrong. She referred me to a urologist.

After examining me, the urologist told me that the left side of my pelvic wall was really tight and my right side was a little bit tight. She also said that my vestibule was super red. It was also super painful to the touch. When she took a Q-tip and poked around, it really hurt. 

The urologist gave me an estrogen cream that I had to put on my vestibule (the opening to my vagina), and then I had to go see a pelvic floor therapist, who I was to see for about 10 to 15 sessions. She told me I had pelvic floor dysfunction, which is when your pelvic floor is tightened, like the muscles are contracted. If your muscles are already tense then you can’t really orgasm, and then when you have sex it’s just like something poking a tight muscle, so it’s really painful.

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Going to the therapist was super awkward at first. I felt like I was going to a sex therapist or something with all the awkward questions she asked. I also had to do cupping, which is when they stick these cups on you and the suction releases your tense muscles. It was so weird. My therapist did cupping for the first two sessions and then she was doing a lot of internal work.

She explained to me there are different layers to your pelvic floor. The most sensitive muscles are around your vestibule, that’s why it was hurting me. She said what can cause that is holding your pee, doing certain exercises where you are squeezing your glutes, or doing any ab exercises contracting the muscle. I’ve always been into exercise, but I had to stop doing intense exercise for a while, I could only do cardio.

My doctor never told me what caused the Pelvic Floor Disorder in me, but if any trauma occurs to the body it can impact your pelvis. I fractured my neck when I was younger, so that could’ve added to it. I also had bulimia, and throwing up causes you to tense your pelvic floor. Constipation can also upset it, so I have to drink a lot of water and I’m now incorporating more insoluble fiber into my diet. When you hold stress you hold it mostly in your jaw, shoulders, and pelvis, so I have to be mindful of that as well.

I also had to stop having sex for three months. I had just met someone and it was pretty uncomfortable to explain that I couldn’t have sex with him for the next three months while I was going to pelvic therapy. He was super understanding about it. I guess I got lucky, everyone should honestly be understanding, but I feel like guys could go either way.

My therapist had discharged me and the pain was going away. She told me to do my “self manual work” on my own. I was like, “What do you mean I have to do self manual work?” She told me all these exercises and it felt I was like fingering myself, it was so awkward. Then I had to buy this thing called a thera-wand and it really looks like a dildo, no joke. I have to use it to do exercises and I do it about three to four times a week. I’m not cured or anything. I don’t think it ever goes away, but you can contain it by doing stretches and the self manuals. I still get the pain sometimes, so I’ll just go back to doing cardio.

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A few weeks ago I had sex for the first time since therapy and it was really painful, like the same thing happened again. Everything flared up, so I’m actually gonna go back to my therapist. It makes me not want to have sex because it doesn’t only hurt for the moment, the pain will last for about two to three days after.  It feels like you have cramps from your period, but it’s just like these radiating intense cramps, you feel it right in the front. The only thing that helps is taking Epsom salt baths, which is still weird because I never tried that before, but it really does work. I also had to buy cotton underwear.

The good thing is that oral doesn’t bother me. Fingering doesn’t even bother me either, it’s just having full-on sex that is painful.

But it is still discouraging sometimes, I do get sad. I almost cried the other day when I was with a guy and we were having sex and I was just like, I have to stop. I felt so bad. It just sucks because I wanna be intimate with someone and I wanna also have an orgasm. I feel like they need to have a group for women who have this so we can just talk about our stories with each other.

* names have been changed.

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