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12/06/2021
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About the author: Suhayla is one of the primary content creators and contributors for the MMM team. When she’s not writing for us, she’s busy being a Mama to two young children and also is a pharmacist in one of London’s NHS Trusts. She particularly enjoys writing about islamic parenting, promoting wellbeing for mums and is an advocate for breastfeeding, after a challenging journey with her first. Want to reach out? Send her an email: [email protected]


Amirah is a Sex and Vaginismus Coach who is all about God-conscious sexuality and body positivity, helping women to overcome vaginismus and a fear of sex. Currently writing her first book – aimed at helping Muslims to prioritise pleasure. We sat down with Amirah and asked her some questions about vaginismus, how to overcome it and her tips on how to get back in the bedroom after children. 

To find out more about Amirah and read her story, check out this post.

What is vaginismus?

Vaginismus is a condition that a woman experiences when her pelvic floor muscles which surround the vagina start to contract in an automatic subconscious way and become very narrow. If she tries to insert any object into her vagina at this point it becomes very painful. Usually this becomes apparent with a penis entering the vagina, but it could also be a tampon/cervical smear. This condition essentially can hinder a woman from having penetrative sex as it is very painful or not possible.

Can it occur after giving birth?

Yes – there are two types of vaginismus: primary and secondary. The latter occurs after something has happened – trauma, stress, giving birth and so vaginismus can definitely be a new thing after you give birth.

Three things women can do to help overcome vaginismus?

  1. Educate yourself about your body and your female anatomy & really understand the pelvic floor muscles – know that these muscles contract and relax and there is a purpose for this. Invest in learning how to do pelvic floor exercises correctly. 
  2. Educate yourself about sex – read on the topic and learn (you can always ignore the bits that dont resonate with you as a muslim) and ask questions to those around you that are in your close network – we should be able to support each other through any struggles we may have. 
  3. Practise – both inserting a dilator/tampon into your vagina AND how to relax your pelvic floor muscles.

Is it ok to use a dilator – Islamically speaking?

Islam says that we should not engage in sexual activity or sexual intercourse outside of marriage. Inserting a dilator or a tampon is not the same thing. There is an intention behind using the dilator here – it’s to treat a medical condition and that is okay. 

How many women have you helped so far?

I’ve worked with at least 20 women privately over the past two years and 80% of these women have overcome their vaginismus. There are over 200 women currently taking my course – 50% have overcome it so far.  

And what other challenges do we face as Muslim women when it comes to sex (especially at the beginning of marriage) – what are the things we should be aware of, especially for those of us with older children.

Some of the challenges come from culture and family – we’ve talked previously about the fear of pain and that this is drilled into us as muslims as we grow up. There is a lot of negativity associated with it.

There are also other challenges that come from wider society – things like body shaming and women’s bodies changing in pregnancy and postnatally. It affects both women and men as a big impact on the effect on your own body and not being able to accept it. Other challenges include the impact of things like porn and masturbation which can also have a big impact and are very much a real issue within the muslim community.

There is also a belief in some cultures that sex is not meant to be pleasurable for a woman  and so, a wife may not allow herself to enjoy it and thinkher husband will think negatively of her. This has a negative impact as it makes it more difficult. 

Ultimately, there is a belief that sexual pleasure is not part of islam – that our wordly life is meant to be free from pleasure and the more you repress pleasure the better muslim you are. However, we have to realise that the main purpose of sex is pleasure. Think about the number of times sex is used to have kids vs how many times you will have sex in your married life and that will put it into context. Procreating is a very small percentage.

That moves nicely into my next question, you mention the term god-conscious sexuality on your instagram bio – can you expand on this? Where does Islam come into it?

I personally see sex as our rizq (sustenance), just as our children and our spouses are our rizq. Sex was created by Allah (SWT) with a purpose. Something that was meant to be enjoyed within Islamic principles. It’s the same with food or children. We are meant to enjoy it and be grateful for it. We should prioritise pleasure because it is what Allah wants us to do, it’s why He created sex. I believe that Allah created it as a gift for us to enjoy, we need to see it as an act of worship, as a positive and part of our spirituality.

Let’s talk about how we as women can become more confident in expressing our needs and desires – a lot of us have the basic barrier of just not being able to talk about it?

My advice is really try to normalise it for example the same way you talk about a meal and what could be improved upon, sex is an activity that you do with your husband and although uncomfortable at first, talking about it will help make things better if needed. 

It is also important to bear in mind that picking your moment or timing is important – choose when you want to give feedback in a constructive way. I would also try to plan in advance for sex – choose to talk about it with your spouse beforehand. Remember you need to prioritise pleasure because it’s what Allah created sex for.. 

Finally, knowing that it will be for both of your benefit – the more you enjoy it the more he will enjoy it too. If you’re embarrassed or you feel like there is some deeper conversation to be had then I would recommend working with a specialist to help you get on the same page. 

How can you go about learning/finding out what you like? What specific things please women so that people can easily think of things to ask their partners to try?

Big focus needs to be on the clitoris as I mentioned earlier, knowing your anatomy and parts of your vulva. Knowing that it’s not just the outside portion that you see – the rest of it extends inwards beyond what the eye can see. Think about or look into different ways of stimulating the clitoris and share these with your husband.

There is also a technique known as Kunyaza – I’m not an expert on this but there are experts out there such as @thevillageaunty & Habib Okande. This technique focuses on female pleasure through stimulating the clitoris. 

I would also recommend knowing which areas of your body work for you – know the female erogenous zones and exploring these with your husband. Remember that sometimes that body part requires build up – so the key is to try different body parts and then come back to ones that you tried to stimulate earlier. It’s as though once one erogenous zone is stimulated, they all come to life. 

What are your top tips for getting back into sex post birth?

  1. Listen to your body – only transition to sex when you feel ready
  2. Before you have sex practise your pelvic floors – they may be a bit weaker which might work in your favour as it might be easier to penetrate for example if you had painful intercourse prior. 
  3. Realise that sex is not just penetration – there are so many different ways to achieve pleasure and ultimately it doesn’t matter how you get there, it’s about the goal.
  4. Build up slowly if you’ve had a rough delivery – it could be using dilators/tampon – if you want to slowly transition back into intercourse. Just to get used to the feeling of penetration and to prove to yourself that it can be pain free.

Any tips for those of us who feel uncomfortable in our new bodies after giving birth?

  1. Always think about our relationship with Allah first – when we do not accept our body we need to ask ourselves where is that coming from – usually it’s coming from society. If we lived in an ideal world and we didn’t have all of these other voices telling us what looks good and what doesn’t. We would accept that it is normal for a woman’s body to change after giving birth the same way it’s normal for a child to grow and change. It’s Allah’s creation and it’s how it’s meant to be – it goes through change. Beauty comes from Allah and Allah designed our body cells to be in a certain way.
  2. Prioritise your self care and how you feel on the inside, rather than your external reality.  Often we believe what others say or are feeling neglected as we are not looking after ourselves and so working on our inner self is key to feeling good about our bodies.

Any tips on how to keep the romance or energy alive after kids – really tough when we are exhausted/no energy?

  1. Do a pleasure inventory – ask yourself how much pleasure you are  experiencing in life and this is not just from sex from everything (from going for a walk to when you are in the bedroom with your husband). If it’s low – then try to amp up the pleasure in all areas mental, emotional, physical & spiritual. The more you experience pleasure in one area the more it will rise in others. Pleasure is all linked and so this is a great way to think about it to boost it in one area..  
  2. Communicate with your husband if you feel you are doing too much – as yourself the following questions –  Is the balance right? Am I doing more than my fair share? A woman’s role in islam is not to cook and clean – she can do this if she wants to. There needs to be more of a balance. 
  3. Realising that sometimes you might need help – ask for help if you need, whether that is hiring help if you can or asking for support so that you don’t get burnt out.
  4. Do the things you would have done at the start of your marriage – add some excitement and it will be a great motivator.

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