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A woman has opened up about a vaginal condition which left her unable to have sex.
Kendra Blair grew up in a strict Christian household and made the decision to wait until marriage before popping her cherry.
At the age of 19, Kendra tied the knot but soon discovered she was unable to lose her virginity due to a painful condition.
She was physically incapable of being intimate with her new husband after developing vaginismus.
The condition causes the muscles in the vagina to tighten up involuntarily as penetration is attempted.
Now at 39, Kendra, from Missouri, US, is engaged to Sean Rice, 38, and is determined to have sex when they tie the knot in 2022.
Before meeting Sean online in May 2019, Kendra was married for 12 years and struggled to get intimate on her wedding night.
She first put it down to nerves but soon she began experiencing an extreme burning sensation every time she tried making love.
Kendra said: "It felt like there was a bone there that my husband couldn't get through.
"My then-husband and I endured months of frustration.
"I knew there was something else wrong, but everyone just kept telling me to relax."
What is vaginismus?
Vaginismus is a condition where your vagina muscles tighten up whenever penetration is attempted.
Women have no control over the situation and occasionally you can get it even if you've previously enjoyed painless penetrative sex.
It doesn't affect your ability to get aroused and enjoy other types of sexual activity.
Those who find it hard to insert a tampon or struggle with penetrative sex are urged to seek help.
Another symptom might be feeling a burning or stinging pain during sex.
Some causes of vaginismus are:
- A bad first sexual experience
- An unpleasant medical examination
- A painful medical condition down there, like thrush
- Fearing that your vagina is too small
- Thinking sex is shameful or wrong
Soon Kendra plucked up the courage to see a gynaecologist about the pain.
While she was being examined, she had the same reaction she would have with her partner and started to push the doctor away.
It took Kendra five years to see another doctor who then diagnosed her with vaginismus.
She was given dilators to stretch and retrain the muscles in her vagina to help the condition, but it never worked.
Eventually, Kendra's marriage soon started to suffer and in 2012, the couple ended things.
Four reasons why sex is hurting you – and when you should see someone about it
She revealed: "Before we split, I'd tell my husband to go and have sex with someone else.
"I didn't want that, but I felt so frustrated. It didn't help that I was getting older and people were asking why we didn't have kids yet.
"I've always wanted to be a mother, but the vaginismus was preventing me from getting pregnant.
"We had other issues going on – not just the sex – so we didn't get divorced just because of my condition, but it was a factor.
"After a while, I'd stopped wanting to work on it because I knew it was going to hurt."
Kendra was worried about dating again but then she met Sean on Plenty of Fish, who told her he "wasn't in it for the sex".
She continued: "I told him early on by text, 'I have a condition that makes sex painful and so far, I haven't been able to have it.
"I explained it could be really frustrating and exhausting and that it wasn't that I didn't want to have sex – I just couldn't.
"He was amazing and told me he wasn't in it for the sex. He really put my mind at ease."
The two soon became a couple and Kendra started seeing a physical therapist.
She was taught how to stretch the muscles, then joined a Facebook support group for other women who live with the condition.
Now she's been doing the physical therapy since 2018 and hopes that by 2022 when she ties the knot she'll be able to have sex.
Kendra also runs a support group on Facebook to connect with other women who have the same problem.
She concluded: "It's been such a relief to find women who understand vaginismus.
"I don't want my story to scare anyone. I want it to be a story of hope."
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