Well now, just when I thought I might have run out of things to say about virginity loss and move onto pastures new (hair loss? sanity loss?), someone comes along and presents us with a new conundrum. What would you say to a healthy young woman who appears to have a similarly healthy interest in sex – but can’t, for some inexplicable reason, do it?
We have met all sorts of virgins on these pages. Shy virgins, religious virgins, people with all sorts of issues who, generally speaking, are not entirely comfortable with their virginal status. But they are all able to at least articulate a reason as to why this might be. They can usually point their finger at some area of their life and tell you what they think might be the problem. But not today’s storyteller. And at first, neither could I. I was baffled. Everything seemed to be in full working order: sociable, healthy, sexually interested, what could be getting in her way?
Upon further investigation, it would seem to be….herself and another vital organ that we discussed last week: our minds. If we, as we did then, work on the assumption that for most people, the brain can actually be considered to be the most vital sexual organ of them all, then you can see why things might go horribly wrong when its not working properly.
Which leads me to my diagnosis. Vaginismus. An ominous sounding word for a straightforward problem. Vaginismus is a reflex that causes the muscles in the vagina to tense suddenly therefore making penetration difficult or impossible. A cursory look at the Wikipedia entry for this condition confirms the following: ‘A vaginismic woman does not consciously control the spasm. The vaginismic reflex can be compared to the response of the eye shutting when an object comes towards it.’
How annoying. And when you think about it, it doesn’t seem like such a crazy response. Having something inside your body for the first time is a tricky thing, Vaginimisis or not. That’s one of the reasons that I loved ‘Peg’ so much, the story I published a couple of weeks ago about a man being penetrated by his wife with a dildo. It was interesting to see how a man responds to a situation that a woman deals with all the time. And much as I came down on the side of men last week when we raised the thorny subject of whether it is harder for men or women to lose their virginity, you should never underestimate the impact of allowing another human being into your body, literally for the first time. That requires trust, patience and respect. And not just for the first time, but for lots of times after that too.
So perhaps it is not such a surprise to learn then that some people’s psyche’s may just respond with the following: ‘Do you know what? I’m just not that into this.’
And there’s your problem. But problems are there to be solved and there is no doubt in my mind that this one is ripe for the solving. A decent therapist, a bunch of patience and a bit of self-exploration - on every level – and I reckon this story could have a happy ending. Cindy, I look forward to hearing it.
Cindy. Aged 21
'Well, so here I go... sending an email to a total stranger whose blog I just stumbled across is not something I ever thought I would do, but it seems quite fitting. Serendipitous even. I love your blog, because it almost gives me hope. Thank you.
If I am being completely honest, I came across The Virginity Project after typing in ‘can't find hole, positions for losing virginity.’ Because of this, one can assume that this is not a story of losing my virginity, but rather, trying in vain.
I'm a twenty-one year old college senior about to embark on the rest of my life and I feel hopelessly resigned to a life of celibacy. Most days, I feel like the protagonist in Nathaniel Hawthorne's ‘The Scarlet Letter’, except it’s a big red V card pinned to my jacket.
I know the story. I know all of it, because I'm also someone who cannot keep my mouth shut. I think my entire university community must know my status - because its most likely I told them. Whether it be over a cold beer at the bar or Calzone in the dining hall, I have admitted my guilt on numerous occasions as if someone (anyone!) could give me some answers, some guidance.
I know about ‘waiting for the right guy.’ I know about the plethora of procedures (how clinical that sounds...) one can go through to make things easier; to loosen things up. I know that I've tried with more than four guys in the last five years... armed with my ever expanding condom and lube collection, we try different ways at different times in different settings with different ambience and a different soundtrack, and I still feel SOL.
I lost my stage theatre virginity this past month by acting for the first time in Eve Ensler's ‘The Vagina Monologues’. That has to count for something?
Or maybe, its one more way of showing how obsessed how I am with my own anatomy. So obsessed because I can't for the life of me figure out how it works! And here I sit, resorting to a Google search engine to assuage my fears.
When I mention guilt, it’s not that Catholic schoolgirl sort of thing. If anything, it’s the opposite. It’s the guilt of knowing that I can't get over the mental hurdle which has increased exponentially in height.
I'm not shy and I'm definitely not a prude. I love to be naked on Saturday mornings and cook pancakes in my underwear. I like to dance to horrendous hip-hop by myself and I like to drop it like its hot and I like to watch porn. I am not a Christian and I am not from a conservative family.
I've never met a virgin like me. People are usually shocked and I always have to warn guys before things get too far along that I don't put out. I freak out so much anyway that they usually don't want to stick around - and they definitely don't want to stick anything in. I must have penetration phobia or something.
Lately, I have one of those terribly annoying ‘friends with benefits’ who is also terribly satisfying. I like to call him over sometimes when a paper just gets too much to handle or when I haven't talked to him in a week and I feel things slipping away. It’s ok that he's a rock climber - you know the type, crunchy-granola guys with unruly beards and a great body who is forever inaccessible but likes to rage at parties all weekend and make you laugh at three am? He forgets to call a lot, even though he is best friends with my roommates. I always go for the guys with the glimmer of hope.
I'm too emotionally intelligent for him anyway. Remember, I know the story. I know the myth that the first guy you have sex with is NOT the first guy you fall in love with. I've already fallen in love with that first guy. I want the first guy I have sex with, obviously.
We try a lot, but I am scared. He makes up in patience what he lacks in proximity. My legs clench up. I'm like a brick wall and he's trying to pile drive into me but there must be steel reinforcements between the brick and the drywall. Or something. Sorry for the terrible details masked in even cheesier metaphors.
It almost always ends in my tears of frustration and his cold shower. It’s been five months of this and it’s starting to get old. I'm starting to get old.
I'm starting a heated power yoga class this week to try to shake things up a bit. Trying to get the walls to crumble. I went and visited a gynaecologist for advice. She told me to purchase a vibrator and the trusty old classic ‘How To Be Your Own Sex Therapist.’ Best doctor's orders ever? Perhaps, although the 70s era pictures in the volume she suggested leave something to be desired. I just need to get down with myself, she said. My therapist prescribed me an anti-anxiety pill ‘just for the first time, dear.’
I'd rather call over my trusty old not-boyfriend and get down to business without some sort of pharmaceutical contract, thanks.
I'm too much of a screamer to be silenced for so long.