"My husband and I were virgins on our wedding night. As Christians we knew this was what God wanted and felt it would be best for us too. Not that we found it easy to keep our hands off each other before the big day. Trouble is - six months later we are still virgins! On our honeymoon we had lots of fun in bed but when it came to intercourse I felt too small. My husband felt pleased when I told him he was huge. But I was scared and he just didn’t fit in me! I was mortified. Months later we still hadn’t managed it and our doctor wasn’t much help. He just gave me some lubricating cream and a plastic tube to stretch my vagina and told my husband if I couldn’t relax he should go to the courts and have our marriage annulled.I feel such a failure - dreams of a happy marriage and children are going up in smoke. Now we face public humiliation. Instead of being a pleasure sex has become an unbearable pressure. Help!"

"I’m so glad you wrote in, as these problems get worse if we don’t share them, but can most definitely be resolved with the right help. What you are dealing with is one of the most common female psychosexual dysfunctions: a disorder called ‘vaginismus’. It is caused by an involuntary spasm of the musculature of the outer third of the vagina. Unfortunately, it is more common among people with a strong faith background, so is something we should know about in the Christian world.

“Going to court to get your marriage annulled” is terrible advice. You can overcome this problem and have a happy sex life, with every chance of conceiving children in the future.

The starting point for this vaginismus is that you “felt too small” and that you were “scared” about him “fitting” inside you. These anxieties have caused your otherwise perfectly stretchable vaginal tissue to seize up in a tight spasm. The truth is that once you can learn to relax this muscle spasm, your vaginal entrance can stretch large enough for a baby’s head to get through!

I recommend you start by learning to insert the tip of your own finger, holding it inside your vaginal entrance until any anxiety dies down. You can combine this with ‘Kegel exercises’ where you pull up your PC muscles like a lift going from the ground floor up and then releasing it back down again. If you are unsure what these muscles contracting feel like, they are the same ones as you would use if you are going to the toilet and stop the flow of urine. If you do this exercise with your finger inside your vaginal entrance, you will be able to feel your muscles tightening and loosening. The idea is that you get to the point where you can chose to loosen these muscles when you want to have intercourse with your husband. However big he is, once your muscles are loosened, he will fit in.

I suggest at this stage that you see a Psychosexual therapist. They can also check for any contributory physical factors that may be causing the vaginismus. Sometimes this is things like vaginitis, a rigid hymen, endometriosis or genital tract infections. A third of people presenting with vaginismus have some form of physical cause linked to the condition. These can then be treated.

Your Psychosexual therapist will help you use vaginal dilators effectively, which is the plastic tubes and lubricating cream your doctor is talking about. (See www.pharmacy2u.co.uk Amielle comfort vaginal trainers). These can most definitely work, if administered with care. While you use them it is best initially not to attempt intercourse with your husband. These dilators will help stretch your vaginal entrance and train your muscles to receive something coming inside you, without it hurting. Once you are comfortable with them, you can then progress to intercourse.

Love is ‘patient’ as Paul reminds us in that much-quoted 13th chapter in 1 Corinthians. In the meantime, can I encourage you both to get back into the fun you were having in bed and that feeling of not wanting to keep your hands off each other! You can do all this without worrying about penetration for now. God given sexual intimacy is about a lot more than penetration and procreation. It’s about an emotional and spiritual intertwining that is expressed in the physical. Enjoy the wonder of the love God has given you, give attention to the practical things I have outlined above and sex will become the pleasure that God intended for you."