A bride and groom who planned to lose their virginity on their wedding night had to wait six years to consummate their marriage because of a rare condition that made it impossible for them to have sex.
Ben Coussens, 31, and Emily, 28, stayed celibate throughout their two-year courtship – and promised to finally make love on their wedding night.
But Mrs Coussens was left in agony from the attempt. She recalled her ordeal feeling like a knife being ‘shoved inside’ her and ‘hitting a brick wall’.
Doctors diagnosed her with vaginismus – where the vaginal muscles tighten when penetration is attempted – five years and nine months later.
The couple, from Austin in Texas, finally had sex after Mrs Coussens underwent two weeks of intense physical and mental therapy.
And now the Christians – who met at church and eventually married in September 2009 – are proud parents to Holden, one.
Ben Coussens, 31, and Emily, 28, stayed celibate throughout their two-year courtship – and promised to finally make love on their wedding night (pictured on their wedding day in September 2009)
Mrs Coussens, a stay-at-home mother, said: ‘It took us almost six years to consummate our marriage, and it was only then that I truly felt like a woman.
‘We tried everything from a vibrator to stretching exercises, but nothing worked. I felt ashamed, like I wasn’t working properly.
‘Ben has been so amazing and patient, and sex for the first time was fantastic. We have been making-up for lost time ever since.’
The love-birds were virgins when they met and, because of their faith, decided to wait until they were married to have sex.
Mrs Coussens added: ‘We were both really excited at the thought of finally making love on our wedding night after being together for two years.
‘We had a hotel booked for after the wedding, close to the airport, as we flew to Hawaii for our honeymoon the day after.’
After tying-the-knot in Santa Paula, California, where they are originally from, the couple could not wait to seal their love, by finally enjoying physical intimacy.
Mrs Coussens said: ‘Collapsing onto our hotel bed, things became intimate, but when we started trying to have sex I suddenly felt a lot of pain.
But Mrs Coussens was left in agony from the attempt. She recalled her ordeal feeling like a knife being ‘shoved inside’ her and ‘hitting a brick wall’ (pictured together)
Now the Christians – who met at church and eventually married in September 2009 – are proud parents to Holden, one, after Mrs Coussens (pictured with Holden) underwent therapy
‘The only way I can describe it is that I felt like a knife was being shoved inside me, like Ben was hitting a brick wall.
‘My body seemed to just have this defensive reaction to being touched and tensed up.
‘I’ve never been abused in any way, so I couldn’t understand why this was happening.’
Putting it down to nerves and adrenaline, because of the wedding, Mr Coussens reassured her, saying it did not matter and vowing to try again on honeymoon.
‘Ben said we had the rest of our lives to be with each other and was so understanding,’ Mrs Coussens continued.
‘When we arrived in Hawaii, it was the perfect romantic setting so, when the moment arrived, we tried again.’
Devastatingly for the pair, the same thing happened.
Mrs Coussens, a stay-at-home mother, said: ‘It took us almost six years to consummate our marriage, and it was only then that I truly felt like a woman’ (pictured as a family)
After tying-the-knot in Santa Paula, California, where they are originally from, the couple could not wait to seal their love, by finally enjoying physical intimacy (pictured on their wedding day)
‘My body seemed to instinctively reject what we were trying to do, and what I so wanted to do,’ Mrs Coussens added.
‘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”.’
Trying exercises to stretch her vagina in the hotel room, still nothing worked.
Determined not to let it ruin their holiday, the newlyweds tried to enjoy the break and not to worry until they got home, when Mrs Coussens could visit the doctor.
Seeing a gynaecologist two months later, she could not even proceed with an internal examination, because her vagina just clenched.
She said: ‘The doctor thought it was a size issue, so gave me some dilators – narrow silicone tubes which looked like tampons – to widen the vaginal opening, but even they did nothing as I couldn’t get them in.
‘I was told just to relax and have a glass of wine and that “sex can be painful the first time,” but I wasn’t scared of the pain, we just couldn’t have sex.’
After the dilators failed, the couple continued to try and have full sex twice a week, but to no avail.
Mrs Coussens said: ‘Collapsing onto our hotel bed, things became intimate, but when we started trying to have sex I suddenly felt a lot of pain’ (pictured on their wedding day)
Her inability to have penetrative sex also made Mrs Coussens concerned that she would not be able to have a family (pictured with her husband)
‘I felt ashamed that I couldn’t give Ben what he wanted,’ Mrs Coussens said.
‘Of course there are other ways to be intimate, but we both wanted to have proper sex and consummate our marriage.
‘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.’
Her inability to have penetrative sex also made Mrs Coussens concerned that she would not be able to have a family.
So, in 2013, four years into their marriage, she had a hymenectomy, to remove her hymen in a bid to reduce the discomfort.
But, after a month’s recovery, again their attempt to make love was hopeless.
Then, in March 2015, Mr Coussens called his wife into the living room where he was watching a video online.
‘There was a woman on the screen talking about her symptoms and, as I started listening to them, I began to sob,’ she said.
‘They were exactly the same as mine, the same problems I’d had for over five years.
In August 2015 she flew 1,500 miles for the first week of twice-daily sessions on her own, before her husband joined her in the second week (pictured together)
‘It was the first time I had ever realised I wasn’t a freak and there were other people, just like me. I felt validated, finally.’
The video was from the Women’s Therapy Center in Plainview, New York, a place Mr Coussens had heard about through a friend.
And the condition she suspected she also had was vaginismus, where the vaginal muscles tighten when penetration is attempted.
Contacting the centre straight away, Mrs Coussens discovered they ran two week treatment courses, costing £8,300 ($11,000) in New York.
‘Ben told me it didn’t matter what the cost was, we needed to do this,’ Mrs Coussens added.
In August 2015 she flew 1,500 miles for the first week of twice-daily sessions on her own, before her husband joined her in the second week.
For two hours a day, throughout the fortnight, she had a combination of ‘hands on’ guided penetration training – where she inserted the dilators repeatedly as well as touching herself to get used to the feeling – pelvic floor rehabilitation and sexual therapy.
And, on August 10, during the second week, she and Mr Coussens tried to have sex again – and this time, it worked.
Mr Coussens is delighted that his wife is now happy and healthy and that they enjoy such an incredible love life (pictured on their honeymoon in Hawaii)
She said: ‘Having sex for the first time with Ben was amazing. 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.’
And amazingly, just six months after they first had sex, Mrs Coussens became pregnant with Holden, who was born on October 30, 2016.
‘I love being a mum and want to have more children, too,’ she said.
‘Ben has been so supportive, but I want to tell other women who might be feeling like this that they can get help.
‘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.’
Meanwhile, Mr Coussens is delighted that his wife is now happy and healthy and that they enjoy such an incredible love life.
He said: ‘I know Emily wasn’t withholding from me, and I knew deep-down we would be able to sex eventually.
‘We had talked about adopting if we couldn’t have children.
‘But when we did eventually have sex, it was well worth the wait, we have Holden too, and I wouldn’t change a thing.’
WHAT IS VAGINISMUS?
Vaginismus occurs when the vagina suddenly tightens up whenever penetration is attempted.
The woman has no control over it, which can be extremely distressing.
It affects between 0.5 and one per cent of women.
As well as struggling to have vaginal sex, many also find it difficult to use a tampon.
If they can achieve penetration, sufferers may then experience a burning or stinging sensation.
However, vaginismus does not necessarily affect a woman’s ability to get aroused or enjoy other forms of sexual contact.
Vaginismus often has no clear cause but can include a woman:
- Fearing her vagina is too small
- Having a bad first sexual experience
- Believing sex is shameful or wrong
- Having an unpleasant medical examination
- Suffering from an infection or painful condition, such as thrush
Vaginismus can sometimes occur even if a woman has enjoyed penetrative sex in the past.
If a woman suspects she may have vaginismus, she should make an appointment to see her GP.
The consultation usually involves asking about her symptoms and rarely requires an internal examination.
Treatment is usually therapy to help a women understand her feelings about sex and her body. Relaxation techniques such as mindfulness can also help.
Pelvic floor exercise can also help a woman gain control of her vaginal muscles.
In more severe cases, vaginal trainers, which are shaped like tampons and come in different sizes, can help a woman get used to have something inserted in her vagina.