Vulvasations is a Tempest Love exclusive series dedicated to spreading awareness about the female reproductive system, debunking myths about periods and dissecting everything vajayjay related. Let’s talk about vaginas!

I was twelve when I first heard the word “hymen” in a sexual education class. It was advertised as a “vaginal cloak” that would be broken the first time a girl would have sex.

I’m from Texas and therefore received abstinence-only sex education. Virginity was a woman’s virtue and a ~prized possession~. 

Personally, I never bought into the idealization of virginity because sex was always irrelevant to me. I wasn’t waiting until marriage, but I wasn’t planning on doing it in high school either. Little did I know that not only did I not want to have sex, I biologically couldn’t have it.

I was confident in my decision to not have sex until I found out that it was never my decision; my body had already decided for me. 

I realized that my body was averse to any form of penetration.

I could never use a tampon or handle any form of penetration without excruciating pain. It was almost as if my vaginal muscles would slam shut at the thought of it. I chalked it up to being nervous and spoke to my doctor about it.

For years, she told me that I was probably just nervous and should opt for thinner tampons. Despite using the thinnest tampons on the market, I still couldn’t get them in. 

Eventually, I realized that my body was averse to any form of penetration, not just tampons, so there had to be another reason for my pain. Finally, my doctor confirmed that this was abnormal and referred me to a gynecologist this summer.

When I first realized how severe my problem was, I thought it was vaginismus (an involuntary spasming of the vaginal muscles in response to a fear of penetration).

I refused to leave my room for three days and mentally spiraled while trying to figure out how I was going to cope with the idea of never being able to have pain-free sex.

Going to a gynecologist at a young age only exacerbated this as I did not like being poked and prodded by a doctor, especially vaginally. After a painful gynecological exam, I was diagnosed with a hymenal abnormality (microperforate hymen).

I had a lot of abnormally thick tissue covering my vaginal opening with an opening about the size of a sesame seed for menstrual blood to come out of (nothing could go in). Surgery (hymenectomy) was my only option to remove the tissue.  

Eventually, I underwent the surgery and was fortunate enough to receive a hormonal IUD at the same time. While my recovery was gruesome, I was optimistic about finally being able to use tampons and have a normal sex life. Unfortunately, I was in over my head. I felt like I was being cut in half during my gynecological follow-up appointment.

The severed nerve endings from the incision site were angered by the surgery, so penetration was still unbearably painful. She suggested that I start vaginal dilator therapy to condition my vagina to relax and habituate to the sensation of penetration. While dilators are tube-shaped medical devices that increase in size, my body perceives them as giant wooden stakes.

The only thing more painful than having to undergo vaginal surgery and dilator therapy was having to explain all of it to my conservative, Indian mother.

Sexual health is still taboo in India, especially for unmarried women. Often, society treats the vagina as a holy space that should not be entered until marriage by a woman’s husband.

My mother had never heard of a dilator and was traumatized after hearing about what she interpreted as “medically-prescribed masturbation”. Thankfully, she is more progressive than most Indian mothers and was somewhat supportive of my surgery because it was medically-necessitated.

Currently, I am three months post-operation and I am still working on dilation. While I cannot have painless sex yet, I have worked my way to the 4th dilator out of 8. This is tremendous progress for my body considering that I couldn’t handle a finger 2 months ago.

I have been able to use marijuana extract (CBD) formulated for sexual use to subdue my vaginal and vulvar nerve endings into relaxing enough to allow for certain forms of penetration, or as my friends like to say, I get my vagina high with vagina weed

While my vaginal journey has been traumatizing, it’s also forced me to confront a culturally tabooed part of my body. Prior to surgery, I couldn’t even say the word “vagina” without blushing.

Here I am now, telling the whole world how I get mine stoned every night. 

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Advaita Chaudhari

By Advaita Chaudhari

Editorial Fellow