For those of you who are dealing with painful sex, I beg you, please don’t just suffer through it! As I retell my story and relive those earlier years of pain I am dumbfounded at how I just suffered through it for so long. I know now that I actually made things worse by allowing the pain to continue unabated (with hypertonic pelvic floor muscle disorder, the more trauma there is to the muscles the tighter they become and the longer the healing process takes). More than that, I think about how much time was wasted and the emotional damage of suffering for so long.
At first I just dealt with it because I wasn’t really sure what was wrong, or if there really was something wrong at all. If you are having any similar types of doubts, let me make it very clear—sex is not supposed to hurt! It is never really normal for something to hurt. On the contrary, pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. When you accidentally touch the side of a hot pan, I think you would agree that the burning sensation you feel is a clear sign that you should quickly pull your hand back to avoid further damage (or when you twist your ankle the pain tells you to stop walking on it to avoid worsening the injury). Why should we consider the pain we experience during sex to be any less of an indication to stop and seek help?
I think I continued to suffer through the pain, even after I realized there was something wrong, because I thought I needed to in an attempt to satisfy my husband. Even if I wasn’t well educated about sex itself, it had at least been drilled into my head (whether through media, friendly gossip, or self-help books) that it was an important part of marriage. Aside from that, my husband made it clear enough, whether intentionally or unintentionally, how important it was to him.* I wish I would have been honest with myself (and him) and refused to suffer through painful intercourse. Who knows, maybe my husband would have realized the severity of my pain. I do believe it would have made it more of his problem rather than just my own (although I will concede that it may have led to divorce sooner, but then again, maybe that wouldn’t have been a bad thing either).
As I take time to consider the many reasons why I allowed myself to just suffer through it, I think the underlying theme is that I didn’t know any better. Thus, I want to take time now to share this important lesson learned—when sex hurts there is hope, don’t wait, don’t just suffer through it—seek help! I know it is difficult to tell someone you love that you just can’t do that anymore. I know how much courage and strength it takes to keep searching for a diagnosis when doctor after doctor tells you they don’t know what is wrong. And, I know how long and hard the road to healing can be. But, I also know how good a life without pain is, that it is possible, and that you don’t have to settle for just suffering through it.
*In all fairness, I don’t believe he ever actually understood just how painful it was for me. I should have done a better job at communicating this to him, and he could have made a better attempt at understanding as well.