Dear Dr. Love:I am a 25 year old woman. I have had several boyfriends but never could bring myself to make love with any of them. About five years ago, I had my first sexual experience when I was raped by a middle-aged man–my boss. It was so painful. Now, whenever a boyfriend tries to do it, I remember the pain and refuse him. I am so afraid of the pain that I can’t even insert my finger or a tampon.One doctor told me that pain was a mental thing and that I would probably never be able to have sex in my life and that I should put sex out of my mind. Another doctor said lots of people can’t do it because of pain and she gave me tranquilizers to take before trying to have sex. Which of these doctors is right?
You have been given incorrect advice from both doctors. You should have been sent to a group or a private therapist that specializes in treating women who have been raped. I want you to know that your fear is a normal response to the trauma you suffered, and, most women who have been through what you have feel the same as you do. Check in your phone book for a rape crisis center in your area. In the U. S. , such organizations are listed in the phone book under headings like: Rape, Rape Victim Assistance or Rape Counseling.Some rape victims experience vaginisimus, an involuntary tightening of the vaginal muscles, and it can be corrected with the help of a therapist that specializes in treating rape victims. Techniques will include relaxation and visualization techniques and will eventually expand to include exercises that teach you to be comfortable with penetration. The two doctors you saw were insensitive and ignorant and not at all in line with the current recommended treatments for survivors of sexual assault. So, don’t despair. You will be able to heal from this assault and achieve a fulfilling sex life. Please let me know how you are.