Yet for some, challenges in the bedroom isn't just a phase — it's the permanent result of an unfortunate medical condition. Recently, Buzzfeed author Lara Parker shared her experience living with vaginismus , a condition that causes spasmodic contractions that can make vaginal penetration and intercourse often referred to as PIV sex painful and often impossible.
Exact numbers are difficult to come by, due to embarrassment that may lead to some women not seeking treatment, but it's estimated that two out of women have the condition. The condition can have both physical and emotional causes , from UTIs to anxiety or sexual trauma.
It's [caused by] physical combined with emotional reasons," sex therapist Dr. Madeleine Castellanos , author of Wanting to Want: And it's not just women who can't have sex due to a medical condition. Castellanos pointed out, the male equivalent would be erectile dysfunction, a condition that is surprisingly common among younger men. As Parker details in her article, sexual dysfunction in young adulthood can be humiliating and depressing. It also can be a struggle for the romantic partners of those suffering from such conditions.
For most of us, sex is a crucial part of an adult relationship, so not having sex for an extended period of time can be a source of tremendous frustration. His girlfriend's unwillingness to address the issue also made it seem like they had reached a dead end in their relationship.
Now, after months of undergoing physical therapy, his girlfriend's condition has improved. After losing both a parent and his job, Ramona's boyfriend started having more trouble achieving and sustaining erections, even though he was only in his mid-twenties. Sex therapist Vanessa Marin told Mic that this isn't uncommon — in fact, a "majority" of her male clients are in their early 20s to late 30s.
Erectile dysfunction or vaginismus is not something anyone puts on their wish list, and it can lead to insecurity not only for the sufferer, but for the partner as well.
The good news for couples dealing with a condition like vaginismus, is that the condition is often treatable. Current treatments range from Botox , to antidepressants , to use of dilators medical devices that increase in size inserted into the vagina combined with talk therapy.
For many men with ED, both therapy and pharmaceutical options such as Viagra can help. Not all conditions preventing penetrative sex can be treated. Yet, as the couples in these situations who put in the hard work have discovered, sex, pleasure and orgasm don't have to equal penetration. They're learning to understand that they're not completely defined by their penises. Being forced to step outside the boundaries of PIV sex — and to step outside the bedroom — can help the relationship evolve in unexpected ways.
We found ourselves seeing plays, going to museums, art shows, doing things we both liked, just being in the presence of one another. With love, patience, and dedication, not having penetrative sex doesn't have to mean the end of a relationship — or even the end of sexual pleasure. Skill and knowing your partner proved to me that any sexual act can be just as satisfying," said Fred.