A woman with a rare vaginal condition has revealed how she would often be left in tears every time she tried to have sex.
Katrin Maslenkova attempted to lose her virginity when she was 18, but it felt like her then boyfriend’s penis was just “hitting a wall”.
Penetration left the 27-year-old experiencing a stabbing pain every time she tried to get intimate, making her feel like an “incomplete woman”.
Doctors told Katrin, from Toronto, Canada, that 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, a condition where the muscles in the vagina seize up and tighten in response to penetration.
After going through extensive therapy for the condition, Katrin was able to have sex for the first time in 2016 at the age of 24.
Now 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.
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She 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.
“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.”
Katrin, who is originally from Bulgaria, first suffered the pain in her vagina as a teenager when she tried to insert a tampon.
Later in life, after a volleyball tournament, she attempted to take one out, but it was so painful she nearly fainted.
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It was 2010 she was diagnosed with vaginismus after the gynaecologist completed a pelvic exam.
She eventually saw a therapist who asked her about her life experiences to find out where her discomfort came from.
Katrin 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.”
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Katrin was recommended dilating therapy which helps to stretch the muscles slowly and train the mind to stop associating penetration with pain.
Now with the support of Dmitri, she’s hoping to raise awareness to others with the same painful sexual experiences.
She concluded: “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.
“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.”
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