By Rachelyn Gordon

A normal sexual experience can be a challenge for some couples, even for healthy individuals in their 20s and 30s. Many…suffer in silence.

Take Tim and Diana, both in their late 20s, who were raring to start a family of their own. They wasted no time in trying to conceive shortly after their marriage. However, they soon realised that Diana was experiencing excruciating pain every time Tim attempted penetration. This resulted in distress and unhappiness that put their relationship through some of its darkest days.

Determined to save their relationship, they sought help from a gynaecologist who diagnosed Diana with Vaginismus.

“Painful sex is usually the first sign and the couple is likely unable to consummate the marriage.” ~ Dr Ann Tan

What is Vaginismus?

Vaginismus is an involuntary contraction of the vagina which results in pain and discomfort during sexual intercourse. As a result, vaginismus directly impacts the chances of a woman conceiving.

Possible causes

Unfortunately, even with the advancements in science and medicine today, there are no obvious causes for vaginismus. Instead, vaginismus is said to be linked to psychological and physical causes.

Psychologically, women may have a heightened sense of anxiety during sexual intercourse stemming from bad previous experiences. These could include:

  • sexual abuse or trauma
  • performance anxiety
  • fear of sexual intercourse
  • fear of getting pregnant

Physically, women may have a vaginal infection or a vaginal septum (a condition where the vagina is divided into two sections) leading to vaginismus. Thus, it is crucial for women experiencing vaginismus to receive a proper check-up to determine the cause of their vaginismus.


Early symptoms of a woman experiencing vaginismus include discomfort and pain during

  • the insertion of tampons
  • gynaecological examinations such as a pap smear
  • manual/vaginal penetration

Additionally, when it comes to sexual intercourse, Dr Tan describes experiencing vaginismus as a woman feeling like her vagina is splitting and the man feeling like he is hitting a wall.


Vaginismus may sound like an infliction that has no cure in sight but nothing can be further from the truth. Upon diagnosis with a medical professional, women have the option of working with a sex therapist or a gynaecologist. They will then be assisted in learning how to approach their form of vaginismus be it a psychological or physical barrier.

For Tim and Diana, counselling with a sex therapist proved successful. Diana managed to tackle her fears of sexual intercourse which allowed the couple to finally consummate their marriage and eventually conceived a baby girl.

What is Premature Ejaculation?

“Premature ejaculation affects 20% of men at some point in their lives. More than 9 in 10 men have not sought treatment, which could potentially lead to a relationship breakdown or divorce.” ~ Dr Steven Teo

Premature ejaculation is the difficulty in controlling ejaculation during sexual intercourse. This inability to delay ejaculation sufficiently to enjoy love-making can result in a frustrating sex life for couples. Furthermore, it can lead to psychological distress, diminished self-esteem, anxiety, erectile dysfunction, reduced libido and poor interpersonal relationships. Needless to say, premature ejaculation can hinder a couple from conceiving.

Possible causes

Premature ejaculation has no medically proven causes. It is however linked to several psychological and physical factors.

Psychologically, premature ejaculation can be attributed to anxiety stemming from previous stressful sexual experiences such as:

  • sexual trauma
  • depression in relationships
  • performance related anxiety

Physically, premature ejaculation can result from medical factors such as:

  • hormonal problems
  • injuries
  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • thyroid
  • prostate disease
  • a result of a side effect of certain medicines.

Specific lifestyle choices such as binge drinking can also contribute to premature ejaculation.


Symptoms of premature ejaculation can also be categorised physically and psychologically.

Physically, men may be unable to delay ejaculation for more than one minute after penetration. This inability occurs in all sexual situations including masturbation.

Psychologically, men may face a loss of confidence in the relationship and experience interpersonal conflicts, embarrassment and mental distress.


Premature ejaculation can be treated through a combination of medication and psychological treatment. Hence, a diagnosis by a specialist in Urology or Andrology is essential.   

Be it vaginismus or premature ejaculation; do not let a painful and frustrating sex life stop you from enjoying physical intimacy with your spouse and having a family.

Visit your doctor today!

Special thanks to Dr Ann Tan from Women Fertility & Fetal Centre and Dr Steven Teo, IVF Clinician from

Thomson Fertility Centre for their valuable input.

Try these spicy bedroom tips!

1) Schedule time for sex

Regular sex in a marriage boosts overall well-being and strengthens emotional bonds. So, treat sex as a necessity and pencil it down in your planner.

2) Make it Sexciting

Surprise your spouse with undergarments you might not usually wear or find out what excites you and bringing it into the bedroom! Explore making love in new places and trying new positions.

3) Talk about sex

Don’t expect your spouse to read your mind, change your mindset to believe that talking about sex is how both of you can find out what is good, better or best for both parties. Communication is vital to having a good sex life.

Eliminate those serial killers

1) Technology

Email, Texting, Social Media Technology steals precious time that you could be spending on your spouse. Unplug from technology when you reach home and spend some time preparing yourself for an intimate night ahead.

2) Keeping it safe

It is really common for couples into fall into a rut and be completely bored. Try making some changes, like having sex at a different time of day, different locations and exploring different positions. If you are in need of inspiration, turn to the internet or your spouse for ideas! The possibilities to a fun sex life is endless. It just comes down to you getting started!

Special thanks to Dr. Martha Tara Lee, Clinical Sexologist and Founder of Eros Coaching, for her spicy bedroom tips!



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