I’d always assumed that it was normal for intimacy to hurt simply because that was my experience of it. When I met a man who told me otherwise, my whole understanding of it was changed and I found myself embarking on a journey to figure out why I’d struggled with so much discomfort for so long.
I’d never had an experience that wasn’t at least slightly painful.
For as long as I can remember, I experienced pain during and after it. It felt like friction or tearing was happening in the entrance to my vagina and this happened almost every single time I was with a man. My entire life was accompanied by this pain, making it a bittersweet experience for me. Usually, it would be fine until I had reached my peak, at which point my pain receptors would come back online and I would feel the ripping sensation of penetration.
I also experienced chronic yeast infections.
While the problem wasn’t constant, I did go through periods of chronic yeast infections which truly wreaked havoc on my intimate life. At its worst point, I was dealing with an infection one week out of every month. I tried everything I could to cure myself of this, seeking medical advice along the way, but nothing seemed to help. Eventually, I’d resigned myself to this being an unavoidable part of my life.
I thought this is what all women went through when they started getting down.
The thought never occurred to me that other women weren’t experiencing the same thing as I was every time they were with a man. I’d never even mentioned it to a partner of mine because I didn’t think it was news. Intimacy hurts for women, end of story. How sad is that?
I casually mentioned it to my boyfriend one day and everything changed.
One day after we finished doing the deed, I mentioned the pain in an offhand comment to my boyfriend. He asked more about it and I described the feeling of tearing, friction, and burning that I usually experienced with it. When he asked if it was something that happened every time I had it, I realized how ingrained pain was in my experience. It was something that I’d completely normalized by that point.
I began to realize that what I was experiencing wasn’t normal after all.
His concern at my revelation suddenly gave me one of my own. After talking a bit more and him sharing stories of the other women he’d been with, I began to see that I’d been living with pain for a long time that never should have been there in the first place.
At first, I was really upset and felt cheated by life.
Why was I experiencing pain in something that was supposed to be pleasurable? How had I made it into my late twenties without realizing this wasn’t right? I felt broken, as if there were something fundamentally wrong with my body and I didn’t know how to fix it. I felt angry and sad and helpless at the thought of my own body sabotaging the pleasure of it for me.
I began to look into possible reasons for my pain.
As soon as I could, I started searching for answers. I came up with all sorts of things, from simply not being turned on enough to serious, untreatable medical conditions.
Eventually, I realized I was subconsciously protecting myself.
I began to explore the possibility that my body was trying to tell me something. The more I experimented with this idea, the more I began to believe that I was sending myself subconscious messages. I realized that the pain I felt during it was a protective mechanism. Whenever I was uncomfortable with some aspect of it, my body would shut down and my body would resist. My body, far from being broken, it was trying to protect me from something I wasn’t fully comfortable with.
When I started to listen to my body, it changed.
Over the course of about a year, I became more and more in tune with my body’s needs. I realized a lot of the issues I had with it revolved around boundaries. When I didn’t make my feelings clear, I felt unsafe, which was the sign for my body to shut down either with pain or by developing a yeast infection. As I became more comfortable setting boundaries, it became less stressful for me and I could relax into it, rather than resist it. I practiced communicating honestly about my desires, opening up with my partner about what my body was telling me.
Now I enjoy it without pain.
This shift in my approach to it drastically changed my physical experience. Once I felt secure in my communication, I was able to let go and enjoy it without the pain I once thought was normal. From time to time I still experience some mild discomfort or a yeast infection, but I now take these things as red flags. These are signs that remind me to check in with myself and consider if I feel fully secure in a physical encounter. What once was a curse is now a valuable warning sign and I’m actually really grateful for it.
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