When SHOULD we talk about gender; what I regret from church; and what pastors need to say in premarital counseling.
It’s our Friday round-up, where I share what’s been happening on social media this week–because often the big stuff in our community doesn’t happen on the blog!
(And the BEST stuff actually happens in our private Patreon group! People who give as little as $5 a month to support our research get access to a private group and unfiltered podcasts!)
But here’s what happened this week!
First, we have a new granddaughter.
We introduced her on both Instagram and Facebook! She entered the world via Emergency c-section, and it was a little bit scary for a minute, but Vivian Louise is here. Her name means Lively Warrior, and during the C-section Rebecca, who was nervous and trying to keep calm, sang Come Thou Fount rather loudly, which everyone thought was funny and cool.
Everyone is doing well. She’s sleeping good stretches at night, and Rebecca’s finding this recovery easier than last time!
What do pastors need to include in premarital counseling?
One of my big missions in life is to make the term “vaginismus” as well known as the term “erectile dysfunction.” So many women don’t get help because they don’t know sexual pain is treatable and isn’t something you just need to endure.
So I put a post up this week telling pastors what people need to know in premarital counseling!
Vaginismus is a serious problem affecting evangelical women especially. Here’s what pastors should make sure couples know:
1. Vaginismus affects just over 20% of evangelical women
2. We can reduce the risk by taking our time getting used to sex
3. We can reduce the risk by focusing on her arousal before we focus on intercourse
4. If it occurs anyway, there’s help through pelvic floor physiotherapists.
To elaborate: Vaginismus is a physiological condition where the muscles of the vaginal wall contract (tighten), making penetration painful if not impossible. It has psychological and/or physical roots, and conservative Christians suffer at twice the rate of the general population.
The bad news: Our survey of 20,000 women for our book The Great Sex Rescue found that roughly 22% of women experienced vaginismus, and 7% to the extent that intercourse was impossible.
The good news: If you prepare for marriage properly, you reduce the risk. And there is help!
A little discomfort at first intercourse is normal. A lot of pain is not. If pain lasts more than a week, or intercourse is just impossible, seek help.
There’s a difference between a stinging sensation when things stretch or the hymen breaks, and muscle pain.
The two biggest contributors to evangelical women’s increased risk of vaginismus are her feeling as if she doesn’t have a choice and must have sex; and having sex when she’s not aroused.
So tell couples: Don’t plan on intercourse on the wedding night. Don’t rush things. Relax.
- Aim for: Comfort being naked together.
- Then arousal (getting comfortable being sexual).
- Then potentially orgasm through other routes. And THEN intercourse.
If this takes a few days, or even a few weeks, that’s okay. You have a lifetime ahead of you! It’s better to do things in the right order than to rush through something when she’s not aroused and when she feels cornered, trapped, or obligated.
Vaginismus affects three times as many couples as erectile dysfunction, and can be even more devastating, but most don’t know the word.
Let’s empower couples. Teach them the word so they seek help from a pelvic floor physiotherapist and licensed counselor if it occurs. Don’t let couples suffer in silence anymore.
For more on what causes increased vaginismus rates among Christians, please see our book The Great Sex Rescue, with all our survey results!
Feel free to share so that other pastors see this!
When SHOULD advice be gendered?
We talked on the podcast this week about how science was often misused to make it sound like men and women are completely different species. I don’t think talking in gendered terms is appropriate for a lot of things when it comes to sex, because we have overlapping bell curves. Yes, men tend to have higher libidos than women. But some women have higher libidos than some men! So let’s talk instead in terms of principles of navigating libido differences, instead of making it gendered.
But there are times when things SHOULD be gendered, simply because our bodies work differently. I talked about it in this Instagram live, which is kind of like a whole other podcast!
Here’s what I regret NOT doing in church…
Then a super quick video (or reel) I put up on Instagram about an incident I still regret. Maybe we can all decide to stand up, walk out, speak up, from now on? And not stay silent?
What if you're NOT the problem with your sex life?
What if the messages that you've been taught have messed things up--and what if there's a way to escape these toxic teachings?
It's time for a Great Sex Rescue.
That’s it for me this week! I spent a large part of the week doing the final-final line edits on The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex (coming out in March!) And now I’m heading out on a knitting retreat with my mom. It’s the first big social thing I’ve done since COVID, and I’m looking forward to it!
Let me know: how has your week been? Did you have any big revelations? Anything here spark something you want to discuss? Leave a comment and let’s talk!
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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