Aunt Vadge: fingers freak me out

Dear Aunt Vadge,

I am a married lady, and we are trying for a baby. My problem is that I never let my husband finger me, nor do I let the doctors carry out a pelvic examination. I am totally embarrassed by this, and am desperate for help. Do I have vaginismus?

I am a 25-year-old, and have been married for three years. We have been having sex and I do enjoy it… But when it comes to fingering, it hurts a lot. The last two visits to the gynaecologist were very scary because she was upset with me that I did not let her examine me.

I have not been sexually abused any time. I just stiffen myself so badly that its becomes impossible for them to carry out examination. We are desperate for children and am totally depressed with the fact that I cannot let the doctor touch me and feel very low. Please help me out with this. 

Sincerely,
Embarrassed

_________

Dear Embarrassed,

I’m very sorry to hear that you aren’t getting the most out of your husbands digits and feel fearful of your doctor’s examination. That is a sad story indeed. It seems unfair that your gynecologist would be upset with you – it seems like it is her job to know about vaginismus, and to be kinder to you. Maybe it’s time you found a new gynecologist?

It does sound like you have vaginismus, which as you probably know isn’t the easiest condition to overcome, because it is a strange condition with no real answers. I am going to give you some recommendations that you can try, and no matter which you chose to pursue (if any) I highly recommend you choose the most experienced practitioner you can find. You need all their years of examining and caring for the human body and mind to help you solve your problem.

Also, I would like to remind you to be gentle on yourself. You are a weird and wonderful creature of this earth, and your vagina playing up is a symptom of something else you need to address. Take your time and don’t stress out about it, because as you well know, stress and tension make vaginismus worse. Treating yourself with kindness means patience, calm, laughter and pleasure. (Fixing this needs to be a good experience, not make it worse.)

I can understand being desperate for a baby, but keep in mind you can still get pregnant if you can still have sex. If you are enjoying sex with no problems, this issue seems to be one relegated to your peanut brain doing something funny and messing with you when a finger comes near.

If you must be examined before getting pregnant, it is potentially now time for you to work on your stress levels so that the rest can go a bit smoother. Putting your baby-making on pause for three months won’t kill you, and you can give yourself some time to figure out what’s going on with the signals between your brain and vagina.

It can be near impossible to relax on cue, so this is a matter that will need some investigating.

Here are some options to help you open back up

There are lot of options for you to start with, including visiting a sex therapist. Your husband and you may also get some good tips out of the basics of fingering, to perhaps incorporate some other techniques so you get more pleasure out of it. But, first it seems that you need to address why fingers are a no-go, but a penis is fine, and pleasurable.

This might be the positioning of the fingers, as opposed to the penis, and you may be more accepting of a penis than fingers because it’s ‘real sex’ and perhaps your husband’s fingering technique – and certainly your doctor’s examination – need improvement.

It’s possible that you have pelvic floor dysfunction that is causing you to clench up. This can be solved, perhaps not overnight, but with the work of a good pelvic physiotherapist or osteopath, you can see where the problems may lie. It could even be that you have posture issues that need correcting, and then the problem goes away.

Or, you may have had a bad experience in the past, and it is manifesting as a fearful response to being digitally penetrated. You won’t know what’s wrong until you go and see some experts, who can shed some light on the issue for you.

Experts who may be able to help you include:

Masturbate

Finger yourself! See how you go with your own fingers. If you can finger yourself with no problems, you’re halfway there. You might just have a little brain glitch that sees someone else’s finger coming your way and it triggers the ‘closed’ sign.

Use your husband – he loves you!

Your husband can help you with this, if he knows what you need. You could find a loving moment and very, very gently make friends with your husband’s fingers, starting with the outside of your vagina and clitoris with absolutely no penetration at all allowed, you could help desensitise your brain and reform the wiring.

But, your husband also needs to learn how to finger you properly, which is not something men are necessarily naturally good at. They need to be taught, and each of us is different, so if you haven’t put the fingering hard yards in, he has no idea what to do. Then it would be no wonder you didn’t like it! Getting jabbed at by a man’s fingers is uncomfortable at best, horrible to endure at worst.

He can read Fingering Basics for Men for a few tips, but read it with him. Laugh, talk about the suggestions, and make a safe plan for the future, along with seeing your practitioners for help.

Ultimately, you have a journey of fingering ahead of you, and in the meantime, you will be deepening the connection you have with your husband and your doctor and yourself. Don’t be afraid of delving – you can’t ruin anything!

Love,
Aunt Vadge

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)
Read more about Jessica and My Vagina's origin story.
Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

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