This Film Challenges The Stigma Around Female Sexual Dysfunction

by Emma Bredthauer

A still from the Tightly Wound teaser

When I tried using a tampon it felt like I was trying to force it into a hole that wasn’t there, causing excruciating, stabbing pain. I didn’t think I was ever going to be able to do it.

Years passed by. I visited countless doctors who couldn’t tell me what I had or how to fix it.

The mean, nasty voice inside my head often told me, “I’ll never have sex. I’ll never fall in love. I’ll never get married or have children.”

That’s a lot riding on one body part.


You just read a passage from the teaser for Tightly Wound, an animated film project proposed by documentary filmmaker Shelby Hadden that will chronicle her struggle with vaginismus. Shelby wrote about her experience with the condition for the October/November issue of BUST (read it here). For those who aren’t familiar with vaginismus, Shelby defines it as “a medical condition characterized by involuntary contractions of the pelvic floor muscles that tighten the vaginal entrance—causing pain, penetration problems, and extreme difficulty with intercourse.”

It’s difficult to gauge just how many women suffer from vaginismus, though studies have been done; a Jezebel article from last year cites a study that puts the number at 5 to 17 percent. That’s a significant segment of the population–and yet vaginismus, and other causes of female sexual dysfunction, are rarely talked about (though we hear plenty about male sexual dysfunction–how many Viagra ads do you typically see during Sunday Night Football?).

Tightly Wound seeks to end that silence and to debunk myths and stereotypes about people suffering from vaginismus by offering Shelby’s story as an example. But she needs your support in order to tell that story–you can back her project on Tightly Wound’s Kickstarter page. Together, we can challenge the stigma surrounding female sexual dysfunction!

Check out the Tightly Wound teaser below:


Support the project here!


More from BUST

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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