When you start to catch feelings for someone, you also might catch the urge to take things to the bedroom. You know, it's an itch you just need to scratch. For one woman, though, scratching that itch has never been an option.
"I can't have sex. I'm a 21 year old healthy girl, but when I was developing, my body decided I was much too perfect already (joking) and decided to make it impossible for me to physically have penetrative sex, until I have a small operation," user thebigfreakoutski wrote on Reddit. She posted asking for advice on how to tell the guy she's currently interested in that she simply can't have sexual intercourse.
She explained that her condition has caused her to struggle with self-confidence, especially when dating. "I've kissed boys and done other stuff, but I guess my fear of them finding out I'm some freak who can't have sex/has something wrong below the bellybutton has lead me to vehemently avoid sustaining any sort of relationship longer than a single hookup."
But now she's interested in a guy, and she's pretty sure he's interested in her, too. "I really like him but I have absolutely no idea where to go from here," she wrote, explaining that not even her close friends know about her condition. "I fear they'd think I'm weird, or treat me differently, or avoid me."
She went on to say, "I feel like such a bad person because I keep showing interest in this guy, but then I guess in situations when we get closer, I act sort of oblivious, because I'm so scared of getting to the situation where I have to tell him I can't have sex yet… I'm so so scared, and I'm not even sure if I'd be able to get the words out of my mouth, and I think I'd get really upset."
She didn't specify what condition she has that prevents her from having sex, but there are a few possibilities. She could have vaginismus—when vaginal muscles spasm or contract in response to something trying to enter the vagina, Health previously reported. Vaginismus is thought to be a psychological condition, although some physical conditions, such as yeast and urinary tract infections, can contribute to it, as well.
Vaginismus is usually treated with Kegel exercises, which help relax the pelvic floor, as well as counseling to deal with underlying stressors that may be causing anxiety around sex. Vaginal dilators can also be used to help a woman become comfortable with having something inside of her.
Another possibility is that her hymen covers the opening of her vagina. The hymen is a thin, fleshy tissue located at the opening of the vagina, according to Planned Parenthood. Some people are born with more hymenal tissue than others, and in rare cases, the tissue may cover the entire vaginal opening. Being active, using tampons, and having sex can cause the hymen to break or tear, and it's totally normal. If it doesn't open, penetrative sex can be difficult, and a minor surgical procedure can be performed to remove it.
Whatever her condition may be, those who commented seemed to agree: She shouldn't be afraid to tell the guy she's into when the time is right.
"Go out with him! Sex doesn’t have to be the pinnacle of your relationship," one user commented. "If things progress and it gets serious then you can consider telling him to the full extent."
Another wrote, "If he’s a good dude and is taking the relationship seriously, and you’ve reached the point where sex is an option, he will be understanding. But it also wouldn’t surprise me if a guy in his early 20s didn’t react the most ideal way? Guys in their early 20s are basically idiots. So if it doesn’t go well, I wouldn’t see it as a reflection on you in any way."
Many also pointed out that there are plenty of other ways to have sex, too. "Sex [in a loving relationship] is a physical expression of love between two people. Physical intimacy. And that expression of love is going to look different in every couple. You and your partner do whatever 'acts' feel best for you. It doesn't have to include PiV [penis in vagina], for whatever reason you don't want it to. PiV is no more 'real sex' than any of the other ways you can have sex."
Others shared their own experiences: "I once dated someone who could not have PiV sex. I’m not sure whether her reason was similar to yours, as it was neither polite to ask nor important to me why. We had a great time together including a completely satisfying sex life that included handjobs and blowjobs. I remember the sex with her more fondly than many partners with whom I did have PiV sex but felt much less of a connection."
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