For the past few years, I have struggled with pain associated with vaginal intercourse. I visited doctors but none could provide me with the answers I was looking for. “Have more sex, it’ll open up…it is supposed to hurt…try different angles.” The advice was never helpful and only reinforced my worry that there was something wrong with me. I was unable to find help or an escape, but I wasn’t necessarily looking for one. I was content not having my vaginal issues resolved because I wasn’t in a hurry to have children. I was able to enjoy other sexual activities and had a patient and loving partner. I knew I would have to figure it out eventually and waited until I had the emotional and financial capacity to dig deeper for the answers I was looking for.
A few weeks ago I visited a new doctor. She had me hold a mirror as she took a look down there and pointed out the problem. “Now sit still, does that hurt? Hmm have you ever touched yourself before, you are pretty fidgety. Oh there it is – I see what the problem is. Can you see that – you have two tiny holes instead of one big one.” A septate hymen. Clear and visible to me and the doctor – a nostril in my vagina.
As the doctor typed on her computer, I sat uncomfortably still trying to process what she was saying. “We’ll need to see what’s going on through an MRI and given how difficult it is for you to be touched, we’ll have to knock you out for the procedure.” I nodded in agreement. There was no way in hell I wanted to be awake for this.
My doctor recommended me for physical therapy. The physical therapist took me in at around 8:20am. She had me walk, sit, lay down, move around until the big reveal moment when she herself poked around. I was watching her face as she observed my pelvic muscles and knew in an instant that this was complicated. I asked her what was wrong and to just tell me what she thinks honestly. “Honestly, my patients with just a septate hymen do not react like this. My patients with vaginismus do. Go through with the surgery and then talk to your doctor. We may have to bring you back for regular sessions. In the meantime, here’s a list of exercises I want you to do twice a day.” I thanked her and walked out.
As the weeks passed, I visited the hospital for various appointments. Each time I got back to my car, I sat in silence taking deep breathes, then drove to work in tears while jamming to Adele on blast to get all my emotions out of my system. You see, you can’t talk vag in the office. Sure, you can talk about how you caught a cold, or need to get a root canal – that’s all work appropriate. But to bring up your vag problems is awkward to discuss with anyone really.
Being that I’ve been married for a few years, I often get asked if I want to have children or if I am planning to have kids soon. You can plan all you want, but the reality is that nothing is in your hands. Even after all the treatment, surgeries, therapy and healing – Will I be able to have kids? Will I be able to experience vaginal intercourse without the pain? Only Allah knows. All I know is that this is fucking hard and I can only try my best. I am exhausted and emotionally drained and want it all to be over. I want to not have to worry about missing work for my medical appointments or budget a portion of my salary for medical expenses. I want to not have to hold back tears whenever anyone asks me if I like kids. I want to let myself be vulnerable with the ones I love and not have to show that I have everything under control. I can’t wait for the day when I can finally be excited about the possibility of being pregnant. About the possibility of painless sex! And surprise my patient partner with the news of our own little one. I want a lot of things in life. But I’ll make do with what I have for right now. My story, this space to share it and your duaas, iA.