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vaginismus and asexuality
nulz wrote in asexuality
I'm an asexual woman and few months ago I was diagnosed with vaginismus and wondering if there's a connection with asexuality. I'll cut this as there is a discussion of sex.

Before realising I was asexual, I never had an interest in sex anyway. I met my boyfriend a few years ago and while he has a very very low sex drive, he is not asexual. That's fine with me and we have had sex. I don't mind as it's a compromise as far as I'm concerned. Sex has always been painful but I brushed it off thinking it was nothing. I'd rather not have sex, but that's not because I find it repulsive, I just find it an inconvenience and a waste of time.

So, I went to my doctor who said I have vaginismus. She's suggested I see a sexual therapist (I think that was her title) who is trained in dealing with vaginismus. But I'm wondering if somehow subconsciously, me being asexual has played a part in this. Like I say, I don't find it repulsive, but I'd rather not have sex. But even though I do, is my body telling me that it doesn't actually want to do this. I don't have a negative attitude towards sex nor have I had any traumatic experiences.

I'm not even sure there's a lot that can be done. Ideally, I'd like to have pain-free sex for both my sake and my partner's, but...I dunno if that's possible. The same thing happens when I have a pelvic exam - pain. Has anyone here also been diagnosed with vaginismus? I'm not sure how much is just coincidence and how much is down to my orientation.

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A little sexual TMI, perhaps.

I haven't been diagnosed, but I experience extreme pain during pelvic exams, to the point that I have never completed one, even when on valium. I can't do penetrative sex, partly cos of the pain and partly because I'm kinda phobic - probably due to the pain, which I guess makes it not actually a phobia. But my partner is a girl, so it's not such a pressing problem :) She's quite sexual, but she's mostly happy being a 'pillow princess'. Anyway, I don't know if it's linked, but you're not alone :)

Small sexual TMI?

I'm an asexual female who has had penetrative sex before. I don't do it often, partially because I require a lot of foreplay before I'm physically and psychologically interested, and partially because I have some anxiety surrounding the whole thing. Having things in my vagina doesn't usually hurt me, though - even my first time having penis-in-vagina sex wasn't painful. (I was also pretty comfortable with directly putting things - tampons without applicators, menstrual cup, etc. - into my vagina for several years before I started visiting gynecologists or participating in any kind of partnered sex, which I think helped.)

In my case, being asexual hasn't caused any vaginal pain. But I also understand that willingness and interest in sex can do a lot to make your body more receptive, and vice-versa. So in your case, they could be connected - it's hard to say.

Yeah, it could be connected psychologically in the OP's case, but I don't think there's a direct causal link with asexuality.

I mean, I've never had anyone else touch my privates since I was a baby, but I'm perfectly comfortable putting various things in my vagina, some of them rather larger than your average penis. For me, my asexuality means that I'm uninterested in having sex that involves other people and that I feel very weird and wrong just trying to fantasize about real people the way that verisexual people apparently do all the time, not that I'm physically incapable of the mechanics, or that it's not a good feeling (even if it's often hard to get psychologically aroused enough to make it go anywhere). And of the handful of other female-bodied asexuals I've talked with in private, most do masturbate and at least one owns a vibrator.

That being said, the OP only mentions situations that could be stressful for various reasons - performance anxiety, not really trusting your doctor, etc. And there is such a thing as a pain memory, i.e. if your body expects pain because of previous experiences (not necessarily non-consensual ones), it's less able to relax, thereby making it more likely that it will hurt again. Normally, you'd have conditioned your body and subconscious with plenty of pleasure memories by the time you start having partnered sex, but if self-exploration and masturbation never appealed to you, and your first time was with someone who believed in that toxic but unfortunately omnipresent myth that the first time is supposed to hurt and that hymens need to be 'broken in'... Well.

That's all just speculation, but it would at least be an easily testable theory. If it really has something to do with your asexuality or any kind of subconscious aversion of sex, then it shouldn't happen if you're doing it on your own without an audience. If masturbation is still too sexual a mental concept for you or you can't get aroused, you could think of it as a self-massage or physical therapy. (Like trans* women who've had genital surgery and who have to dilate the new orifice with a series of successively bigger medical dildos and plenty of lube.) If it still hurts under those circumstances, it's probably something physical.

I've been diagnosed with vaginismus, and while I haven't tried to have sex over the past several years, being penetrated was painful to the point of basically being impossible for me when I last attempted it. Other things are sometimes painful - tampon use, pelvic exams, etc. - but it's only penetrative sex that's been so painful as to make it impossible. Like you though, I've had no traumatic experiences that should account for this, and I'd like to think that I have a healthy and very open attitude towards sex and sexuality in general. I'm assuming that my vaginismus is intrinsically linked to my asexuality, but I suppose there'll never really be any definite, concrete 'proof' one way or the other.

I don't want to be the bearer of doom and gloom here but I HAD to respond to this.
I've been diagnosed with this and I can tell you from my own PERSONAL experience that this problem seems to be PURELY Physical; at least in my case. So far in the medical community when there is clearly a problem that they can not even diagnose much less treat they go to the mind, saying that it is something psychological since they are at a loss of what to do. Sadly the medical community has not been able to advance far enough yet to diagnose the myriad of causes that would cause such a thing as vaginismus and other such things.
I eventually had to realize for myself that not only was the doctor not doing things right down there when it came to trying to give me an exam (she was a college student in her last 4 years) but that there is NO true information or help out there if you have something wrong with you in this area.
I don't want to be the bearer of doom and gloom here, but the medical community is a machine and it has no room for purely finding and curing disease anymore, it's purely a business now. Terribly and sadly, leaving people who have "undiagnosed" problems like this one with nothing.

I will tell you this though, no matter what DO NOT believe what everyone, even your doctor will tell you, when they point the finger of blame at you (as happened to me) and say it's all your fault. No your NOT nervous, Nor excited, nor of an uptight personality. You're NOT causing the muscles to constrict down there, or getting scared, angry, who knows what, have childhood traumas that you're suppressing who knows. It's AMAZING how IMAGINATIVE the "educated" can become. And no it's NOT your sexuality. The ONE thing the doc I went to got right was that she said my sexuality had NOTHING to do with my "muscles not cooperating". So DON'T end up HATING yourself for being A-Sexual (something I I ended up in anyway, despite the doctors protests in this ONE area. :-(! )

I have been dealing with, in and been educated in and worked in and around the medical arena for years now and I can tell you from first hand experience that it's truly a MACHINE with a bunch of people who seem at times barely able to write their own names. Sad but true.

Overall if you're having problems the best thing to do is to go and find another doctor and keep going to new ones till you find one that actually HELPS you and doesn't belittle your pain, concerns or words. It may take years heck it may take a lifetime (until recently I have not been able to find any good doctors. I finally got my hands on ONE Family Physician but he's moved now. :-(! And I have found an EXCELLENT Oncologist but again I will more then likely not be seeing him again either, money and all. :-(! ).
But it is better to search for a lifetime to finally find what you are needing then to give up and never get it. :-)

Well, I'll get off my soap box now, I hope I have been able to help some; and keep on searching; and don't let ANYONE tell you that there's something wrong with you, there isn't. The second you hear that you just need to go and find a physician that will listen to what you are saying and WORK With you instead of waving off your illnesses, pains and other problems. :-) *lots of love*

Tactless Truth

Hi there,

As a guy I'd like to empathise with you, but I really can't imagine what you must go through, and I'm not arrogant enough to pretend to understand.

The thing about asexuality, though, is that it's generally not considered to be a mental illness or condition. One of the DSM conditions (specifically Criterion B for hyposexuality desire disorder) that exclude asexuality as an orientation from being labelled a disorder/dysfunction is that for HSDD, the lack of desire must cause "marked distress or interpersonal difficulty." So when you say "Before realising I was asexual, I never had an interest in sex anyway." and "I just find it an inconvenience and a waste of time", it sounds like your low of sex drive isn't really causing you any emotional problems, and may not be physiologically related to your vaginismus

At the very least, I think you can be confident that your physical condition was probably not a causative factor for your asexuality. I don't know enough about vaginismus to know whether or not it could have psychosomatic causes, but my instincts and the poster above me (tactlesstruth) say no.

I'd like to also repeat what tactlesstruth said; even if there is a causative link established, it is not your "fault". You have nothing to be ashamed or guilty about. Even if your attitude to sex is causing you to experience pain, or vice versa, you should not ever let anybody make you feel like it's your fault, or you are to blame, or otherwise make you feel bad or weak or small about it. It's not, and you're not.

I sincerely hope you find a way to resolve your problem in a way that makes you happy. :)

Edited at 2014-01-03 02:13 pm (UTC)

Just a few words --

Personally, I think many doctors/therapists misunderstand vaginismus - just because it can have a psychological cause doesn't mean that it always does or even that a psychological and a physical cause for pain can't exist at the same time (if something hurts, one would become anxious about it, yes?) The way vaginismus is defined, contractions cause the pain, but to a physician and even to the patient, this can be indistinguishable from pain causing contractions.

I've been diagnosed with it, tried to get treatment, was told it was "in my head" or that it was because I had negative feelings about sex. I can see why my asexuality could cause someone to come to that conclusion. Eventually, I was able to receive a pelvic exam with the aid of muscle relaxants and surprise, surprise, even though my muscles did not contract or clench, I still experienced pain. Whatever is going on down there has a physical cause.

All I'm saying is, don't take a vaginismus diagnosis for granted. And even if that is what you have, it can be treated. And even if it's related to your asexuality, it doesn't matter. You wouldn't have to ~*stop being asexual*~ in order to deal with it.

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