The Sex Condition That Many Women Experience But No One Talks About

It's nearly 2019 yet there's still a stigma surrounding the topic of sexual and reproductive health. Sure, we're getting more comfortable talking about periods and birth control, but anything beyond that is off the table. Because of this, many of us fail to speak out openly and honestly about our health concerns, and when something happens with our bodies that we don't recognise, we're left at a standstill.

No one knows this better than 22-year-old university student Shannon, who last year was diagnosed with a form of genito-pelvic pain disorder, an emotionally and physically taxing health condition that affects her ability to enjoy sex. Shannon's journey started last year at an annual gynaecological exam. "I went to get my IUD checked, and during the exam, the healthcare provider wasn't able to fit the adult-sized speculum in my vaginal canal," Shannon tells us. "Even after inserting the pediatric-sized speculum, I began to experience hot flashes, faintness, and excruciating pain." At this point, the diagnosis was clear to her doctor. "The provider then wrote '' on a piece of paper," Shannon says. "He briefly explained the diagnosis and left the room. I was left panicking."

What is vaginismus? Keep reading to learn about the diagnosis, causes, and treatments of this genito-pelvic pain disorder—and what it means for women who suffer from it.

Got more questions? Try this tell-all guide by Sherry A. Ross, MD.