< SWITCH ME >

cactus
Photo: puck90 (CC-NC-SA)
Love works even if sex hurts

Is not having sex the new taboo? In the following interview, pseudonyms Annika and Robert tell us about their experiences from being in sexless relationships and why, despite being very much in love, it is a difficult topic to talk about. Read on for an insight into a reality that quite a few couples face.

Like so many other young women, Annika would often meet up with her friends for girl talk over a glass of wine in her hometown in Sweden. Although the girls covered many different topics, somehow sex was always one of them. Annika remembers how she would laugh and nod along to the conversations about exciting sexual positions, the intensity of orgasms and all-night sex marathons when on the inside, all she wanted was for them to change the topic. She would make up some lie when she was asked to share her experiences – and she was often asked, being the one in a committed long-term relationship her friends naturally assumed she was having a lot of sex. When the truth was that she was hardly having sex at all. That she felt excruciating pain every time she tried. That she didn’t know any positions and had only experienced a few orgasms in her life, none of them from penetration.

Over 1000 kilometres away, in the Netherlands, 24 year-old Robert and his girlfriend Jenny started dating three years ago. The first time they had sex was painful for Jenny, but as she was a virgin they figured that the pain was normal. But the second time wasn’t better. Neither was the third time - nor the time after that. In fact, after one year of painful sex, they decided to stop having sex altogether and have been in a sexless relationship for the past two years.

Her friends naturally assumed she was having a lot of sex. When the truth was that she was hardly having any sex at all (..) That she didn't know any positions and had only experienced a few orgasms in her life

Jenny and Annika both suffer from vaginismus, a condition where involuntary contractions around the vagina lead to severe pain during sexual intercourse, in many cases making sex impossible. There are several reasons why a woman can experience these contractions, including stress or genital infections, cultural taboos or unpleasant prior sexual experiences. But it can also be because of feelings of guilt about having sex because you think it’s wrong or dirty, because you are not comfortable with the thought of being naked with someone else, or because you are not sexually aroused but have sex anyway, not being lubricated enough for the experience to be pleasurable. Whatever the cause, the vaginal muscles contract and having sex in that moment, when your body is in fact not prepared for it, can be painful. And the human body remembers pain, so the next time you are about to have sex, even though you want to, your muscles contract in an act of self-protection, once again causing sex to be painful. It’s a vicious cycle which may eventually lead to sex being associated with pain rather than pleasure.

Pseudonyms Annika and Robert have both agreed to tell us about their experiences, see next page.

NEXT ISSUE
IN -827 DAYS