About nine months ago, I started having sex again. This was a Very Big Deal to me. A long time ago, I was sexually active. Then I was sexually abused. Then I was in a very happy romantic relationship for a long time in which we did not have sex of any kind. I was essentially cut off from the sexual side of myself for a while. I masturbated, but my masturbation did not occur very often, and was entirely devoid of any vaginal penetration.
When I met my current partner, I was really excited to do the things that I had previously enjoyed years ago. One of those things was penis-in-vagina sex. However, I had a new problem: my vagina protested with pain if it encountered anything larger than a single finger.
I was just about devastated. I was missing the kind of sex I used to have. I was angry with my body for not doing what I wanted it to. I was scared that I would never be able to enjoy vaginal penetration again. Most of all, I was extremely frustrated that I couldn’t have the good feelings that I remembered. I felt broken. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t able to do the things I used to be able to do. I was thinking “I’ve done this before! I know I can do this! Why won’t my vagina just cooperate with me?”
In the midst of all of this, I discovered sex toys and sex bloggers, and I quickly fell in love with it all. I also found some much-needed sex education. Did you know that the vagina is a muscle? You probably do know what happens when you don’t use your muscles: they atrophy. If you completely stopped walking, just entirely stopped using your legs, the muscles in your legs would shrink and start wasting away. If, after years of not walking, you said “hey, I’m going to walk today,” you wouldn’t be able to. You might try to stand up and then promptly fall on your face.
That is essentially exactly what I did. I stopped exercising my vagina. I wasn’t using that muscle anymore. As a consequence, it became much less strong and flexible, and I was no longer able to use that muscle the way I once had. There was nothing wrong with me. I just had to rebuild my muscle strength. I was able to (slowly) work myself up to larger and larger vaginal penetration, and now, nine months after I started, I can have penis-in-vagina sex without any pain or discomfort, as long as I warm up first.
Our culture has a tendency to glorify penis-in-vagina sex. It does this so much that PIV is sometimes considered the only “real” sex act. One of the consequences of this is that people with vaginas expect they should be able to have penis-in-vagina sex immediately, as soon as they start having sex. After all, that’s what a vagina is for, right? If vaginas are there to be penetrated with a penis, then if mine can’t be, I must be broken. There must be something wrong, it must be my fault, I should be able to have “real” sex.
It’s not true. None of that is true. Vaginas are muscles, they require training. Vaginas are pretty magical and amazing, and you should definitely believe in yours, but nobody is an Olympic athlete or a size queen overnight. If vaginal penetration, with a penis or a sex toy, is not something you’re able to do right now, that’s okay. There are lots of other sex acts you can explore. Take your time and let yourself be where you are now. Chances are, your vagina will be able to meet your size goal eventually.
This post on how to train your vagina by the amazing Lunabelle was incredibly useful to me when I was feeling lost and frustrated. It’s about learning how to expand your vagina’s limits without hurting yourself, and it contains some advice that I have found particularly helpful. This post is Epiphora’s story about going from finding all vaginal penetration painful to becoming a size queen and lover of girthy toys. I found it inspirational, and it gave me hope for my own vagina.
If you are going through this, I want you to know that you’re not alone. I want you to know that you’re not broken. And I want you to know that it’s going to be okay.