Woman, 27, with a vaginal clamping condition reveals sex used to leave her in tears because it felt like she was being STABBED
- Katrin Maslenkova, 27, found it impossible to lose her virginity at 18
- She learned she had vaginismus years later and was able to get therapy
- After finally having sex in 2016, she met her partner, Dmitri, 33, in 2017
- She now has a ‘fulfilling’ sex life with her supportive fiancé
A woman with a vaginal clamping condition has revealed sex used to leave her in tears because it felt like she was being stabbed.
Katrin Maslenkova tried to lose her virginity when she was 18 but it felt like her then-boyfriend’s penis was just ‘hitting a wall’.
Penetration felt impossible and painful, leaving the now 27-year-old feeling like an ‘incomplete woman’ for her two-year relationship.
Ms Maslenkova, of Toronto, claims doctors told her she was either ‘not ready’ for sex or reassured her it would become ‘easier after kids’.
She eventually saw a sex therapist in 2010 who told her she had vaginismus, where the muscles in the vagina seize up and tighten in response to penetration.
After going through extensive therapy for the condition, Ms Maslenkova was able to have sex for the first time in 2016 at the age of 24.
Now, she says she has a ‘fulfilling sex life’ with her fiancé, Dmitri, 33, and has quit her job as a chartered professional accountant to help other women with the condition.
Katrin Maslenkova, 27, says sex felt like she was being stabbed until she was 24 due to vaginismus – where the muscles in the vagina seize up and tighten in response to an object
Now, Ms Maslenkova says she has a ‘fulfilling sex life’ with her fiancé, Dmitri, 33 (pictured)
Ms Maslenkova tried to have sex for the first time when she was 18. She said: ‘It was like he hit a wall. He just couldn’t go in.’ (Pictured as a teenager)
Ms Maslenkova said: ‘At the age of eighteen, I tried penetrative sex with my first boyfriend; it was like he hit a wall. He just couldn’t go in.
‘During another attempt or two, I did my best to relax and some penetration was possible.
‘But just a little bit of him being inside me felt like a constant stabbing sensation, with silent tears streaming down my eyes.’
Ms Maslenkova, who is originally from Bulgaria, added: ‘I now know what I want to get me sexually aroused.
‘I’m able to communicate my desires and also willing to experiment outside of the “status quo” in order to create a fulfilling sex life.
‘My current partner has also benefited from my experiences, as through the journey I’ve become more attuned to my sexual desires.’
Ms Maslenkova first suffered pain in her vagina when she tried to insert a tampon when she was a teenager.
Later in life, after a volleyball tournament, she attempted to take one out, but it was so painful she nearly fainted.
She said: ‘Many perfectly good tampons went straight into the bin with my unsuccessful attempts.
‘They were impossible to use; I tried, experienced a sense of hitting a wall, or really intense, sharp pain.
‘This was the first sign something was wrong, and I just decided to stick to pads when it came to my period.
‘In those few times I was able to put it in, taking the tampon out was the most painful part; my body was holding onto it for dear life.’
When she was 18, Ms Maslenkova tried to lose her virginity to her boyfriend. But it turned out to be excruciatingly painful for her.
She said: ‘It brought feelings within me that I wasn’t good enough and he just deserved better (the feelings weren’t caused by him – just what I felt for myself).
‘For a long time, we had non-penetrative sex and after some time with seeing no progress. I started to loathe where intimate touch was leading. So, I started to avoid it.’
The first sign something was wrong was when Ms Maslenkova tried using tampons. It wouldn’t go in, and if it did, it was incredibly difficult to get out. She is pictured at this time
Ms Maslenkova felt like an ‘incomplete woman’ in her first relationship because she was unable to have sex. She is pictured with her current partner
In January 2010, Ms Maslenkova’s doctor told her she may be too young to have sex and that may be the cause of her pain.
She said: ‘The first guidance I was given by him is that I must just be too young, and my body wasn’t ready for penetrative sex yet and that I should wait.
‘I discovered the word vaginismus on the internet; after waiting for a bit, I went back to my doctor and requested more help, asking for a gynaecology appointment.
‘After quite a wait, the gynaecologist did a pelvic exam and the word vaginismus wasn’t mentioned either. I also went through a vaginal ultrasound, in which I experienced the most pain.
‘After listening to me cry through it, the ultrasound specialist told me, “don’t worry honey, it will get better after kids”.’
Ms Maslenkova eventually saw a therapist who quizzed her on her life experiences to try and find out where her discomfort may originate from.
After sharing her condition with her parents, they came home one day with a box of dilators (pictured) in the hope of helping their daughter overcome her condition
Ms Maslenkova (pictured left at her graduation and right, now, running her own business) quit her job as a chartered professional accountant to help other women with the condition
Ms Maslenkova said: ‘I did remember a childhood injury that may have created my association my private parts being a place of pain and I have since discovered other potential contributors to my body’s response of vaginismus.
‘Although the sessions did not help me make progress with overcoming vaginismus, she was the first to mention vaginismus to me and recommend that I try dilators.
‘I felt relieved that at least someone else agreed with the fact that the pain was not in my head and that this is a real thing.
‘After the relief, I felt overwhelmed with the road ahead of me overcoming vaginismus, but was motivated to finally live a pain free and intimate life.’
Ms Maslenkova was recommended to try dilating therapy, where dilators are used to stretch the muscles and slowly train the mind to stop associating penetration with pain.
After sharing this with her parents, they came home one day with a box of dilators in the hope of helping their daughter overcome her condition.
The dilators lay hidden away in her closet for many months at a time, since she lacked the knowledge in how to use them effectively.
To this day, she is surprised by the limited instruction and guidance she received from the medical professionals she first went to.
However, she was able to get the knack of them with time. Dilators help expand the vagina while pelvic floor exercises encourage the muscles to relax.
Ms Maslenkova, of Toronto, claims doctors told her she was either ‘not ready’ for sex or reassured her it would become ‘easier after kids’. She now helps woman with the condition
Ms Maslenkova, pictured with Dmitri and their dog, said she was shown incredible support by her partners during her experience
After a period of being single and another long-term relationship, in 2016 she was able to have penetrative sex pain-free while single.
She said: ‘Overall, my partners showed an incredible level of support, patience, understanding and compassion.
‘They saw me for more than my sexual “abilities” at that moment and of course we also worked through times in which I sensed a level of sadness, hopelessness and disappointment.
‘The toughest part was feeling incredibly alone, with no one who seemed to understand.
‘Even though I had a supportive family, friends and partners, unfortunately loving people can’t relate to those with vaginismus fully; they just haven’t experienced the excruciating pain, both physical and emotional.’
She started dating the love of her life, Dmitri, in March 2017. They are now engaged and she has since quit her job to help others with the same painful sexual experiences.
Ms Maslenkova said: ‘He felt sorry for me for what I’d gone through, as well as the men in my life prior to him, who also experienced painful emotions.
‘He has been curious, willing to experiment, and has been supportive in my work to bring guidance and support to those experiencing the body response of vaginismus.
‘This has been a journey for me, and he has been encouraging through the process of creating my educational materials and getting them out into the world.’
For more information visit Ms Maslenkova’s website.
WHAT IS VAGINISMUS?
Vaginismus occurs when the vagina suddenly tightens up whenever penetration is attempted.
The woman has no control over it, which can be extremely distressing.
It affects between 0.5 and one per cent of women.
As well as struggling to have vaginal sex, many also find it difficult to use a tampon.
If they can achieve penetration, sufferers may then experience a burning or stinging sensation.
However, vaginismus does not necessarily affect a woman’s ability to get aroused or enjoy other forms of sexual contact.
Vaginismus often has no clear cause but can include a woman:
- Fearing her vagina is too small
- Having a bad first sexual experience
- Believing sex is shameful or wrong
- Having an unpleasant medical examination
- Suffering from an infection or painful condition, such as thrush
Vaginismus can sometimes occur even if a woman has enjoyed penetrative sex in the past.
If a woman suspects she may have vaginismus, she should make an appointment to see her GP.
The consultation usually involves asking about her symptoms and rarely requires an internal examination.
Treatment is usually therapy to help a women understand her feelings about sex and her body. Relaxation techniques such as mindfulness can also help.
Pelvic floor exercise can also help a woman gain control of her vaginal muscles.
In more severe cases, vaginal trainers, which are shaped like tampons and come in different sizes, can help a woman get used to have something inserted in her vagina.
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