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Let’s talk sex: The reality of painful sex for females

When it comes to sex, specially for females there is already a lot of existing stigma to brace conversations regarding the same. There are several myths about female sexuality like the one that considers females to be naturally less libidinous than men. In our social structuring, sex for women is seen more of as one of the  compulsory chores of marital life mainly aimed at the purpose of reproduction rather than enjoyment. Pleasure is quite an alien concept when it comes to women and sex. And to compound problems, the fact that painful sex is an abnormality stays an idea people are largely oblivious to. For Indian women, sex and pain are often seen as mutually inclusive concepts and for quite long into their adult lives.

Are you  ready to have Sex?

Sex education among females is almost nil and very few women are aware of the concept of masturbating in order to get to know their bodies. There is a severe taboo on premarital sex whereas an ever increasing pressure on married couples to consummate their marriages. Vaginismus is a condition that results  when your body registers sex as a traumatic event more than a pleasurable one. Initial discomfort  the first time you have sex is common( although male partners should be more sensitive and aware of female bodies in order to minimize the pain as far as possible). However if you happen to have vaginismus, penetration hinges between being an immensely painful to a near impossible act. Individuals who have experienced the condition describe it as having the lower vaginal muscles spasming and contracting such as to form a wall that resists any kind of insertion or penetration. The condition varies from not being able to undergo any sort of penetration to  being able to insert something the width of just a tampon and not beyond.  Past experiences of sexual assault or painful and brash sex during your first time to even excess pressure on an individual to engage in sexual activity can result in this problem. However the reasons vary from person to person and are highly subjective. Vaginismus is as much psychological as physical. Therapy and pelvic and kegel exercises are amongst the ways to cure the problem. Doctors also prescribe techniques to relax vaginal muscles by using vaginal trainers and vaginal cones. Cognitive behavioural therapy also helps if vaginismus results from any irrational and incorrect belief held about sex.

Taught to suffer in silence

Another painful condition females often experience is Endometriosis. In  2018, BBC Three came up with a four part series of documentary video portrayals that essayed the painful experiences women have with reproductive health and how talking about these issues are still considered taboo, even in developed Western societies like Britain. The video essay titled “Body Language” had a particular section devoted to the problem of Endometriosis where an individual accounts how even the doctor did not take her problem seriously. Pain during sex is common. Nothing unusual!“Just take a few painkillers and it will go”, is the usual belief. Whether or not the matter requires further examination to look for underlying condition or simply because women, or anyone ,should not suffer in pain while engaging in a pleasurable act such as sex, is simply not considered. Even medical professionals are to blame. In India a lot of young girls are afraid of turning up at the gynecologist’s chamber out of fear of judgement or even verbal scorn as many have claimed to experience. In the presence of such stigma, painful sexual conditions further get ignored.

Women with Endometriosis have cells like those lining the womb outside of it like on the fallopian tubes or over the ovaries which build up and break down during the menstrual cycle. However unlike in the uterus, since the blood has nowhere else to go, inflammation , pain and scar tissue might be the result. Varying degrees and types of pain can be experienced during sex if one suffers from this condition. Treatment include hormonal treatment or surgery.

What’s with normalizing pain?    

A lot of young men got to know about the existence of Vaginismus (as it seemed after talking to them)after watching the Netflix show Sex Education. A lot of young females too. Some had the fated experience of suffering it in ignorance. Is it our school biology books with their bare minimum contribution to sexual awareness or is it the rigid mindset of the society we inhabit that normalizes pain? That can be a question for another discussion. For now we suffice with saying, sex isn’t supposed to be painful. No two ways about this. Both men and women need to be aware of this.

  

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