Today I’m going to talk about my vagina. I use a few words to describe my vagina when I’m writing smut: it’s also my cunt (which in turn I also use as a somewhat sexier term for my vulva) and sometimes one of my-fuck holes. But whatever I call my vagina, I have a somewhat complicated relationship with it: I have vaginismus.
Content-note wise, there is a quick discussion of mental illness and suicide in this post. And if someone this blog falls through a wormhole and eighteen-year-old Quinn stumbles across it, please don’t read it, younger me.
I have never had penis-in-vagina sex.
Sometimes I wonder if this is normal for an allosexual sex blogger – after all, PIV is generally the bread-and-butter of bedroom activities, right? Don’t get me wrong, I do have utterly fucking brilliant sex. I just don’t do the kind of fucking that involves cocks – factory installed or otherwise – in my cunt.
Or anything else, to be honest. I’ve never used tampons. I’ve never had more than a partner’s littlest finger inside my vagina. Even trying with a cotton bud – when I’m aroused and wet and using lots and lots of lube – hurts like hell. Right now, vaginal penetration of any kind isn’t on the table during my fucking adventures. And that kind of sucks.
I remember the first time I touched the entrance to my cunt – or at least the first I knew what I was touching. I was in the shower, on the first day of my period, not long after I had started thinking about masturbation. I’d been reading The Whole Lesbian Sex Book so I knew where my cunt should be. I reached down between my legs, fingers playing with my pubes. The wet hair felt different under my fingers, and it took more courage than I’d like to admit to move my hand further down. Past the bits that felt good when I rubbed them. I spread my labia with one hand. My vulva feels different when I’m in the shower, and somehow that makes it easier.
I don’t even try to push my fingers inside my cunt. I just held them there for a second. When I took my hand away, there was blood on my fingers.
That’s how I knew I’d found my cunt.
I was proud of myself that day. And then a few days later, I tried to put my fingers inside my cunt. I was aroused but, knowing that taking SSRIs sometimes fucks with my ability to get wet, I also had lube to hand. I couldn’t work out how to do it. I got a mirror – the mirror I bought as part of my “I’m going to learn how to wank” kit – to check I had my fingers in right place. I did. I helped myself to some lube and pushed and poked a little more. I couldn’t make anything – even my smallest finger – go inside me. And it hurt too. A sharp, piercing pain that made me want to cry.
I felt frustrated. And not just because I hadn’t learned how to get myself off yet. I was angry and upset with myself because I didn’t understand what was wrong. I was trying so hard to get over my fear of my own body; facing it head on, like I thought I was supposed to. I wanted to understand myself and be comfortable in my own skin. But something was wrong, something was broken.
I was broken.
It was a while before I was brave enough to try again, but nothing was different. In fact, I probably found it harder to relax because I knew it was going to hurt. I desperately wanted to be fingered by my Scottish boy the first time we fucked; part of me hoped that someone else trying to get inside my cunt would be easier and hotter and much less painful. It wasn’t. He got a little bit inside me with one of his fingers but it hurt. It hurt a lot, and I had to ask him to stop. I was so disappointed in myself, though quickly distracted by
He told me, when we talked about it later, that he felt I’d have to force something inside my cunt, push through the pain, to be able to enjoy penetration. I knew your first time could hurt, but surely a finger, when I’m wet and turned on and relaxed and using lube, shouldn’t hurt that much, should it? It shouldn’t hurt so much that I cried. I felt useless: I’d put so much work into understanding my body and I was still afraid of my vagina.
Being that I’m a writer, word-slut and sex nerd, it took me an embarrassingly long time to do any research and figure out if there was a word for what I was experiencing. I think it was because I was scared that there wouldn’t be, that I was just overreacting to the pain everyone feels during their first time having PIV sex and I just needed to get over it. I do remember how much better I felt when I found one that might fit. Vaginismus.
Vaginismus is generally defined as the involuntary contraction of muscles around the opening of the vagina. The tight muscle contraction makes sexual intercourse or any sexual activity that involves penetration painful or impossible. The more I read about it, the more certain I became that this is what was “wrong” with me.
Today, I’m pretty fucking sure that I have vaginismus. I’m not sure it’s a thing I can claim outright that I have: I need to visit my GP and get a professional opinion. Despite part of me feeling like I should be the expert on my own body, I know I won’t be able to say “I have vaginismus” without adding the disclaimer “well, I think I do” until I’ve been told that I can use that to describe what my body is doing. Just like I felt I couldn’t say I had depression even when I knew I was having thoughts of suicide. I’m aware getting a doctor to take my concerns seriously may be a challenge. The (unhelpful if you do have vaginismus) advice to ‘relax and have some wine’ isn’t uncommon.
That’s not the reason I didn’t mention it during my last GP appointment, though.
It’s partly because of my mental health: apparently when you’re on a pretty high dose of anti-depressants, a doctor would prefer to focus on potential suicidal ideation rather than the fact you can’t have penetrative sex. Which is fair, I suppose: my health – both mental and physical – does have to come before my desire to put things in my vagina.
It’s also – and again I’m embarrassed to tell you this – because despite the fact I’m a sex-positive feminist and self-proclaimed ethical slut I felt uncomfortable talking about my vagina. I’m not sure why, because I’ve talked about irregular periods and been asked if I’m currently sexually active when I wanted to go on the pill, and explained that I can’t do a vaginal swab for an STI test. But a week or so ago, face-to-face with a new GP who I had to go through the (abridged) history of my mental illness with… I couldn’t bring myself to talk about my vagina.
I often have to explain to new potential partners that I’m not down for vaginal penetration, because even in flirting or sexting the idea of having things in my cunt can be an active turn off. I feel bad when I do – not because I’m stating a hard limit, but because I don’t want it to be a hard limit. I hate the fact I’m still scared of my vagina, and scared of the pain it can bring. And I know working on my vaginismus, even with lube and dilators and lots of patience, is going to hurt too.
And I might have been called a pain slut before, but it’s not the kind of pain that makes me wet. So while I’ll happily use my fingers or tongue or a body-safe strap-on dildo in the vagina of a cute human who I’m into – while I find the fantasy of being roughly fucked really hot – when it comes to my vagina penetrated I’m very much a no. An oww, no.
Quinn Rhodes (he/him) is a queer, trans, disabled sex writer with vaginismus. He’s a slut and a sex nerd who writes about his adventures in trying to fuck without fucking up. Quinn can usually be found wearing stomp-on-the-patriarchy boots while falling in love every time he fucks.