Working Through Painful Penetration

Profile picture for user Carlin Ross

Carlin Ross

I've always been a size queen and I've always been able to penetrate my vagina with ease. When women would share their stories of pain during penetration and how it affected their lives, I couldn't relate...until after I gave birth.

Despite opting for a midwife and choosing a birthing center, I ended up having a C-section. Grayson weighed in at 9 pounds. I thought I could control the weight of my baby by limiting my weight gain during pregnancy. WRONG. I gained 15 pounds but he was huge. There was simply no way I could have had a vaginal birth.

I waited the perfunctory 6 weeks (post-birth) before penetrating my vagina and decided to start with masturbation. It didn't seem right to saddle my husband with that sort of responsibility. I was more concerned about my C-section incision than the state of my vagina. Everything should be as I left it.

I lubbed up my favorite glass dildo and grabbed my hitachi. As I started to insert my dildo, I felt a burning sensation. I took a deep breath and pushed out with my pc muscle - nothing. It was like I was hitting a wall and couldn't penetrate myself. I was shocked but, undeterred, I tried again. Nothing. I couldn't get more than one inch inside my vagina. It was like all my muscles had clamped down and wouldn't relax. I racked my brain for a reason and finally accepted that my body was in a defensive posture after experiencing its first surgery. This was going to be work.

The first thing I did was give up all orgasm expectations. Yes, I could have focused on my clit and rushed through a few orgasms but I didn't want to push my body. I had to resynchronize my mind/body connection and the first thing I needed to do was appreciate what my body had been through. To give birth in your 40's is a different game all together and we'd made it through with flying colors. I'm always amazed at how strong I am and how my body is always there for me. I assumed a mind set of thankfulness and banished all negative thoughts about my tight vagina.

When you're doing any sort of body modification (like extreme piercings) they tell you to soak in a hot tub before stretching your skin. Right before any masturbation practice, I took a shower or bath to relax my muscles and warm up my skin. This really helped. As the water washed over my body, I'd touch my arms, thighs - all of me - and think positive thoughts. Then, I'd put on my white terry robe, take Grayson out of his crib and head to our bedroom. Since he wasn't rolling yet, I'd lay him right next to me on the bed or sometimes he would be nursing. You can masturbate when you're a new mom but the baby will be there with you. This may make you uncomfortable but I can't think of anything more natural or healthy. I'm pumping endorphins into my breast milk and sharing sex positivity with my son. And let's face it: an orgasmic mom is a happy mom.

Extra lubricant was super important.

Generally, I lube up my labia, clit and vaginal opening before penetration of any kind (I use almond or avocado oil). This time I lubed up my entire dildo and used a lube shooter to get lube all the way up into my vaginal canal - super lifesaver. Then I'd slowly penetrate my vagina, going as little as 1/2 inch at a time, taking a deep breath, pushing out with my pc muscle, penetrating that 1/2 inch then stopping, relaxing my pc and exhaling) - bit by bit - until I was all the way in. And I didn't use my usual dildo. I sized down to Betty's barbell which was perfect.

The band of muscles right at the opening hurt the most. Once I was past those, everything felt normal except my vaginal lining felt thinner (why lube was so important). I worked on breathing through the discomfort and focusing on good feelings. Sometimes I'd start with a few clit orgasms with my hitachi - sometimes I'd start with penetration and use the hitachi at the same time to get past the painful part right at the opening. I listened to my body and took my time.

And I didn't go right back to vaginal penetration with my husband. I performed oral sex on him and shared masturbation until I was ready. I think this is very important. When we have sex to satisfy our partner and we don't enjoy it, we create resentments that build and undermine our relationship. It kills the intimacy. I cared too much about my marriage to force myself to have penetration before my body was able to receive pleasure. And I communicated this to my partner.

It was a process of slow penetration with no orgasm goal and body appreciation. For me (and I believe most women) it was a physical problem brought on by body trauma. It had nothing to do with my emotions or mental well-being. It wasn't all in my head. It was in my body. Letting myself off the hook with respect to penetrative sex and shifting my mind set to acceptance and appreciation helped reintroduce my body to pleasure. But that was the only mental connection to the pain I experienced during penetration.

Masturbation was work. I didn't feel aroused. I didn't want to orgasm. Slowly penetrating my vagina and adding clitoral stimulation to orgasm became my everyday regimen.   I had to work through the pain until I felt discomfort until I felt nothing and THEN I FELT PLEASURE.  It took about 6 months before I got my vag back.

I also had to work on resensitizing the area around my C-section scar. When I'm stimulating my clitoris, I'm most sensitive on top of my clit towards my pubic mound. I'd lost all feeling post-surgery. When I was healed and felt up to it, I'd run my lubricated fingers over my scar. And eventually I ran my hitachi over the scar. It took almost 6 months but slowly the feeling came back.

Two things struck me during this time. How most new mothers don't think of themselves and their sexuality as a priority AND how powerful I felt after becoming a mother. If we could harness the power of motherhood and female orgasm, we as a culture would flourish like we've never seen historically. New moms don't suffer from "mommy brain". No, we think more strategically and can handle stress better than at any other time in our lives (which makes sense since caring for the next generation and insuring the species is a pretty fucking important job). But we demean motherhood the same way we demean female sexuality.

A big part of my healing was doing the Bodysex workshops with Betty. I did three pregnant and three post-birth. Those workshops made orgasm fun again, playful, light. Sitting in the circle with all that female energy, forging bonds of sisterhood and sharing orgasm made me understand the power of these groups. We should be initated into our sexuality as teens, in the circle, then come back again and again - after birth and menopause as well as health crises and emotional loss. There's nothing more healing than a circle of women.

I have a beautiful son. My vagina is back. My orgasms are stronger than ever. It took alot of work but anything that's worth it usually does. In the end, motherhood confirmed my commitment to pleasure.