Caring for Your Sexual Health Before Your Wedding
Today’s post is a tad bit personal, but it’s so important that we talk about this, especially since many people probably aren’t going to talk to you about it!
First off, if you’ve been carefully maintaining your purity until marriage, we are so so proud of you. It’s incredibly difficult to do, and God’s gifts for a husband and wife will be especially beautiful! And even if you’ve messed up, there is so. much. grace. No matter your past, right now we need to talk about your sexual health before you get married.
Hopefully you’re doing some pre-marital counseling, and/or having conversations with already-married women you trust who are giving or will give you “the talk,” engaged-lady style. You’ll learn some things that somehow get related to most brides, like “Always pee after sex to avoid a UTI,” and “It’s probably going to be a little uncomfortable your first time.”
These are great things to learn, but we need to go a little bit deeper!
If you haven’t yet been sexually active, and even if you have, we strongly encourage you to go see a gynecologist at LEAST a few months before your wedding, perhaps even right after you get engaged. You need to know if you have any structural or medical issues that could be addressed BEFORE you get married. If your doctor tells you everything looks good, then that’s awesome, and it’s one more thing you can cross off your worry list!
Most doctors have a policy that they’ll start doing pap smears and pelvic exams by age 18 or 21, but there are doctors out there who will wait to check you until you’re sexually active. It’s probably best if you ask your doctor to do one anyway. Yes, it will probably be uncomfortable, and you probably really don’t want to do it. I was in your shoes too, and I got away with not having to get an exam before my wedding. But I really regret it.
Here’s my story. It’s personal, but I hope it will help you to make decisions that are best for your health.
I could never figure out how to use a tampon. I tried 3 times, but it hurt so badly each time that I totally gave up and figured I would live a life of pads and period panties. After I got married, we found out that sex was really, really painful. We simply couldn’t do it because of the pain.
On top of that, I had been on birth control since around age 13 or 14. I wasn’t sexually active, but without it my periods were two weeks long and extremely heavy, and I would get anemic about halfway through. I didn’t have any education about birth control, so I thought I was good to stay on it until the week before my wedding, when I finally went off. (I stopped taking birth control for religious reasons. I was concerned that the pill I was taking might have been an abortofacient, and so I decided for myself that it was more important to honor God than risk potentially harming or killing a human life.)
After the wedding, I started feeling sick and nauseous, and I was cramping throughout my cycle and getting terrible headaches. My doctor and I are pretty sure these were the effects of coming off the pill as my hormones adjusted. I was also starting to feel extremely discouraged that my husband and I couldn’t enjoy God’s gift for marriage, and my frustration sometimes put me in tears.
When I talked with my mom about the pain I was having, she told me to schedule an appointment with a gynecologist ASAP. I called that night, but it can take weeks or months to get in for the first time with a new doctor. It was two months before I finally met with my gynecologist and found out that I have pelvic floor dysfunction and vulvodynia, which have been causing my pain.
I’m now in the process of physical therapy and follow-up appointments with my gynecologist to work on fixing these issues, but I’m looking at about a little under a year of this before things start to get better.
Everyone’s bodies are very different, so it would be pretty surprising if the same things are going on with you. Even so, we should all take some proactive measures to address any potential problems. Here are some lessons I’ve learned the hard way:
Taking care of your sexual health before your wedding is extremely important. Make sure you talk with your doctor about your current situation. If you’re on birth control and want to stop it before you get married, make sure you ask about the best steps to take to make it a smooth transition. If you’ve experienced pain in your private region or have had similar struggles like not being able to insert a tampon, let someone know IMMEDIATELY.
Schedule an appointment with a gynecologist NOW if you aren’t already seeing one, and get those exams taken care of. It could save you pain and heartbreak later. The sooner the better, because your doctor might be completely booked for a while.
Remember that your sexual health is yours and you have to do what’s best for you. Whether that’s telling a doctor that you insist on having an exam, or insisting that they help you get off of a certain medication, or whether you have to have hard conversations with people who might still have some influence in that area (like your parents), you need to do it. Find support if you need to. Just make sure you’re praying about it.
The sooner the better is the main thing you need to take away from this blog. Whether that means going off of the pill sooner rather than later, getting that exam sooner rather than later, or scheduling an appointment sooner rather than later, just do it!
Taking care of your sexual health now helps the chances of you being able to fully enjoy marriage after the wedding! If you have any questions or want some advice, feel free to contact us.