(Bonus points for anyone who gets the reference!)
But in all seriousness, there is something very personal that has been weighing on me heavily, I just haven't been sure of how or whether to bring it up on this blog. But I have decided to, 1) because blogging has always been very therapeutic for me, 2) because I have felt so ashamed and alone in this, and I hope that by putting this out there that maybe I can help someone else in a similar situation, and 3) because this is my blog, and if I can't be honest here, then what's the point?
That said, the rest of this post is probably NSFW.
Ok... here goes. This post will probably be long and may jump around a bit, but I need to get it out so bear with me.
As I alluded in a previous post, S and I have been struggling in the sex department. For awhile. As in, we haven't successfully had sex since E was born. (She will be 10 months old next week.) And it is ruining our marriage.
In July, I was diagnosed with vaginismus. For those of you afraid to click that link (it is a medical page, I promise!), vaginismus is the involuntary contracting/spasming of the pelvic floor muscles when you attempt to insert something into the vagina, which causes insertion to be extremely painful or even impossible. Some people have it their whole lives, only to discover it the first time they attempt sex (primary vaginismus); for others, it can develop later after a previously successful sex life (secondary vaginismus). Mine is obviously secondary vaginismus, since I was successful in getting pregnant with my daughter.
I'm not really sure when my vaginismus began, or what the triggering event was, but sex started becoming a problem for me when I got pregnant with E. I suspect the seeds were planted during our struggles to get pregnant -- we lost four pregnancies before E, and during that time I endured a lot of invasive, painful, and humiliating exams and procedures while trying to determine what was wrong. When I finally did get pregnant with E, I was put on progesterone suppositories which, anyone who has ever used them will tell you, are extremely messy and do not make you feel sexy AT ALL. I was also extremely sick during my first and part of my second trimesters, and I was absolutely terrified that any physical activity would "shake the baby loose" or cause us to lose yet another pregnancy. Then, once the all-day-sickness subsided and I began finally feeling more confident in the possibility of a successful pregnancy, we tried having sex again, and it HURT. We made several attempts during pregnancy before giving up, resigned to the fact that we would just have to do other things until E made her exit.
Once E was born and we were cleared for post-baby sexy times, we tried again. Again, I was in searing, burning, excruciating pain. This time, we thought maybe I just hadn't yet fully healed from the delivery, or maybe I was just dry from breastfeeding.
Multiple more failed attempts led to a trip to my OB/GYN. He told me I had healed just fine, that it was just dryness from breastfeeding, and gave me (an extremely expensive) tube of estrogen cream to use, which he assured me would make me all better.
Spoiler alert: it didn't.
S and I struggled through the next few months, trying to connect in "other ways" and thinking maybe it would just take time for the cream to work. It never did. S was incredibly patient, but sex and all things related became such a source of tension for us that even non-intercourse relations became difficult for me. S started becoming distant and would become so frustrated with me some days that he would barely speak to me. It was terrible (and some days, it still is).
Finally, in July, S and I had a huge fight that seriously made me question whether our marriage would survive this. That was the kick I needed to make another appointment with my OB/GYN. S had already suggested to me that maybe I was having pelvic floor spasms, so I went prepared to ask my doctor about that. At the appointment, my doctor was so frustrating -- he acted as if he just couldn't believe the estrogen cream didn't fix me, and like my pain was all in my head. Never once did he suggest any other possibilities, and I had to literally ask him if maybe I could be having pelvic floor spasms and could he refer me to someone else. He finally agreed to refer me to a specialist in our town, but I still don't think he believes me.
Thankfully, I was able to get into the specialist within the week, and at our first appointment she quickly diagnosed me with vaginismus. She suggested I begin pelvic floor therapy, which includes Kegle exercises, electroshock therapy (not as terrifying as it sounds -- essentially, TENS for your vagina), and the use of medical dilators to help me control the spasms and get my body comfortable with the idea of sex again.
So far, these treatments seem to be helping me physically, and my physical therapy appointments are getting easier. However, I am still a complete head case when it comes to any kind of intimacy with S. Any kind of remotely-sexual touching makes me extremely anxious and causes me to tense up so badly I can feel my entire body lock up. Obviously this is very distressing to both me and S, so I made the decision to visit a counselor who deals with sexual dysfunction issues to see if we can't get to the root of the problem and fix me once and for all. My first (mental) therapy appointment is tomorrow and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. However, I am so tired of dealing with this and am desperate to get better and save my relationship with S, so I know this is what I need to do.
Ahhh! Well, there you have it. My big dark secret.
And wow, that got really long. I'm sorry for dumping all of this on you when my blog has been relatively lighthearted thus far, but I have to admit it feels better to get everything out there. As I said at the beginning of my post, I feel so ashamed and alone that I just don't know who to talk to. I feel like I can't tell anyone in real life what is going on, because they wouldn't understand, and because they know both me and S and it would be weird to let them in on such an intimate problem. So, instead, I am dealing with it the healthy way... by giving all of the juicy details to internet strangers!
If you are still reading, thank you for sticking with me while I talked this out. I'm sure I will be talking about all of this more in the future, as I'm afraid I will have a long road to recovery ahead of me.
And if anyone reading this has had similar issues and overcome them, I would love to hear from you. If you don't feel comfortable posting in the comments, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if anyone reading this is going through something similar, please, know you are not alone. If you would like to talk, I would love to hear from you as well.
And now... I think I have said enough. Good night, my dear readers.