Emily, a woman age 37, married for three years suffering from vaginal pain during intercourse came to see me. She could not specify when the pain first started, but said that it was getting progressively worse. Emily has been examined by her gynecologist who found no physical evidence such as vaginitis, Vaginismus, vaginal agenesis or cysts to support her pain. His diagnosis was that Emily’s pain was psychological.
I suggested that Emily bring her husband, Ryan to the session because I find it helpful to observe the verbal interaction and body language of couples I am counseling. Besides, her problem did affect their relationship and he should be part of the solution process.
I discovered that they had a mismatched sex drive and that Emily felt like she was under constant pressure to have sex. Eventually, she just clamped up and so did her vaginal muscles as a form of defense.
In my office, I encouraged Emily and Ryan to do some Sensate Focus exercises on each other’s hands and face. Emily was able to experience receiving touch without any sexual agenda. For their homework, I gave them other non-sexual exercises that would create deeper intimacy without focusing on the goal of intercourse or orgasm. It was up to Emily to let Ryan know when she was ready to have intercourse.
A week later, Emily called to let me know that they were experiencing a deeper heart connection and to her delight, Ryan was being more romantic. During sexual intercourse, she did not experience the kind of pain she had before. On a scale of 1 to 10, her discomfort level was now between a 1 and a 2 instead of an 8 or higher.