In many parts of the world, abstinence is considered to be a virtue - a way of preserving the sanctity of marriage by forgoing sexual intercourse until after the nuptials. But many of us would certainly struggle with the idea of staying celibate after getting married. Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened to a couple from Austin, Texas, who were unable to have penetrative sex for a very strange reason.
Ben and Emily Coussens were a devout couple from the start and were both virgins when they met each other through church in 2007. Falling in love quickly and helplessly, they decided to save themselves until after they were married. Two years later, they were wed in a romantic ceremony in Santa Paula, California, and were eager to later make love with each other in their Hawaii hotel room on their honeymoon.
However, when they tried to have sex for the first time, Emily found the experience unbearably painful, and Ben was unable to penetrate her. Slightly deflated, the couple chalked it up to nerves and performance anxiety, and resolved to try again later. But each time they attempted to have sex, they hit the same roadblock. It was clear that something was seriously wrong.
"My body seemed to instinctively reject what we were trying to do, and what I so wanted to do," Emily stated in a later interview, "It was like my vagina turned into a brick wall, and nothing could go inside. I started to panic, worrying that I had something wrong with me. We were supposed to be on our honeymoon, hardly leaving our bedroom, but instead, my body seemed to say ‘no’ despite my mind and the rest of me saying ‘yes.’"
Emily consulted with a gynaecologist months later, who was unable to even perform an examination due to her extreme vaginal tightness. She was given some dilators – narrow silicone tubes which resemble tampons – to widen the vaginal opening, but she was unable to even fit them in. Nothing seemed to relax her muscles, and the couple got more and more desperate. Emily felt ashamed and scared - frightened that she was letting her spouse down. Four years later, nothing had changed, and even after Emily had her hymen operated on, it made little difference.
However, in March 2015 Ben was watching a video online about a gynaecological condition known as vaginismus, in which the muscles of the vagina tighten involuntarily when penetration is attempted, but does not affect the body's ability to experience arousal or lust. The couple realised that this was the very ailment that Emily was suffering from, and thus they travelled to the Women’s Therapy Center, in Plainview, New York to try and see if their therapies could alleviate Emily's muscle tension.
Discussing her issue, Emily stated: "Friends would ask me, ‘What’s the sex like?’ I would lie, being vague, saying, ‘Yeah it’s great,’ before changing the subject. Some people I did confide in suggested to me it was all in my head and that, somehow, I didn’t want to make love, but that wasn’t true."
"I worried Ben would become resentful of me. I’d often say to him, ‘I am sorry you have a defective wife.’ But he was so understanding. He really is the most handsome, hard-working, sacrificial, patient man in the whole world and supported me completely."
While at the Women’s Therapy Center Emily paid for a variety of treatments, and was instructed to perform various exercises and pelvic floor rehabilitation. Finally, on August 10, 2015, the pair were finally able to consummate."Having sex for the first time with Ben was amazing," Emily stated, "I said to him, ‘Are we really doing it?’ as I couldn’t believe we had finally made it that far. Ever since then, we have made love without any problems. We now enjoy a very healthy and happy sex-life – making love every week."
Six months after they first had intercourse, Emily was pregnant with her son Holden, who was born in October of 2016. Since then, she and Ben have sex once a week, and have had no further reproductive problems. Emily is also enjoying being a mother, and wants to have more children with Ben.
"I want to tell other women who might be feeling like this that they can get help," she concluded "I’ve never been able to identify what caused my pain as I had a really open relationship with my parents and felt able to talk about sex. So I want mums to talk to their girls about the issue, and not make it into such a big deal. Sex is a positive, fun thing and should be celebrated."