I was desperate to have sex but it it felt like hitting until I was 32 – it felt like hitting a brick wall

A WOMAN didn’t lose her virginity until she was 32 years old after boyfriends said sex with her “felt like hitting a brick wall”. 

Karen Buono, 38, was desperate to have sex, but was physically unable to due to a condition she was unaware of.


Karen unknowingly spent most of her life suffering from vaginismus, a painful condition which causes the vaginal muscles to tighten involuntarily when anything tries to enter it.

She was never able to insert a tampon, have a smear test or engage in penetrative sex, something she said became “very awkward” with lovers. 

It wasn’t until she was 31 years old that Karen was officially diagnosed with vaginismus and was able to get treatment. 

After being cured of the disorder, she was finally able to lose her virginity aged 32 with her "very patient" husband, Joe Johnson, who is now 41.

She said the first time “wasn’t romantic at all”, but she now has a very healthy sex life.

The couple, from Wesley Chapel, Florida, had all their dreams come true after getting pregnant.

Karen gave birth to their miracle baby Matthew, now three months – something the new mum thought might never happen.

She said: “I’ve wanted to be a mum since I was a kid. Once I realised there was a problem (the vaginismus) I was so worried that my dream would never become a reality.

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“Having Matthew has been a dream come true. I never thought this would be possible but here we are, I’m so thankful.”

When Karen was younger, she was baffled when boyfriends all faced the same problem when they attempted intercourse.

She said: “I knew something was wrong with me after I tried to have sex with my boyfriend for the first time when I was 16.

“I had never even tried to use tampons before that, so this was the first attempt at penetration. But no matter what we did, he just couldn’t get it in. It was so awkward.

“I thought it might have just been because it was our first time. So, we waited a bit and tried again.

“But we couldn’t do it. He said it was like hitting a brick wall and there was just no way he could get it in. We just gave up.”

“The same thing happened with other boyfriends when I was in my twenties.

“They all said the exact same thing. That it was like a brick wall.”

After several failed attempts. Karen said she gave up trying to have sex and would always lie to her partners by telling them she wanted to wait until marriage.

I couldn’t believe I could finally had sex. I felt so proud. I felt like I’d just won a race of something that I’d been training for.

Inside, she says she was “desperate” to lose her virginity.

She said: “Nothing worked. I was so depressed. I desperately wanted to have sex, but I couldn’t.

“I just told every partner I had that I wanted to wait for marriage. But that wasn’t true at all.

“I heard the word vaginismus thrown around, but never really knew what it was.”

It wasn’t until Karen went to see a pelvic floor specialist at 31 that she was officially diagnosed with vaginismus. 

Vaginismus can completely disrupt a woman's sex life and relationships, and cause her to lose all confidence in the bedroom.

Unfortunately, the knowledge that sex will cause pain can actually make the condition worse, as the body learns to associate penetration with pain, causing the vaginal muscles to tighten as protection.

Sex therapy, pelvic floor exercises and vaginal trainers – objects of varying sizes used over time – can cure the condition.

Karen said: “After just four months of therapy, I was cured. I could finally have sex for the first time at 32 years old.

“It was one of the best days of my life. I was so happy to finally lose my virginity and have sex with the man I love.

“I couldn’t believe I could finally had sex. I felt so proud. I felt like I’d just won a race of something that I’d been training for.

“It wasn’t romantic at all. But it meant the world to me.

“Over time, we did it more and more. It took about a year for us to really get into the groove of things.”

Miracle baby

The couple began trying for a baby straight away but faced some difficulties.

Karen said: “It was taking a long time and I just kept thinking to myself, ‘there is no way I’m giving up’.

“I knew I’d worked too hard and overcome too much. I knew in my heart that I was meant to be a mum and that it would happen in time.

“After a few years of trying, we were not having any luck, so we went to the doctor to get checked out.

“While nothing was ‘wrong’ with my husband or myself, our age played a huge factor. Being a bit older made it tougher to get pregnant.

“We decided not to waste any more time and do IVF. Our first egg retrieval resulted in zero embryos, and we were devastated.

“We decided to try one more time and it resulted in one embryo. This was implanted, and it worked – we were pregnant.”

Little Matthew came into the world via an unplanned C-section in November 2021 weighing 7lbs 12oz, following a 24-hour labour.

Karen said she and her husband are happier than they ever thought possible –and she is now helping to raise awareness of vaginismus to help other women going through what she did.

The mum added: “I never knew that someone could bring so much joy to our life. This has been the best three months of my life.

“Watching him grow every day has been such an amazing experience and I didn’t know I could love like this.

“He can’t even talk yet but yet he makes us laugh every day, so I can’t wait to see what is to come as time goes on.

“There was a very long time that I thought this would never be possible because of vaginismus.

“But once I put in the work and effort to overcome this, I knew it would be possible. My only regret is not getting help sooner.

“If you have vaginismus, seek out the help that is available because if I can do it, you can do it too.

“The reward at the end is well worth it I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life.”


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