Joyce Wangechi a mother of twins has not been intimate with her man for five years now. She knows very well that he has another woman but she cannot leave him as she blames herself.
"The last time we were intimate was just two weeks after giving birth to our twins. I remember his piercing words. He said I felt like a basin and he was not satisfied," she said. Joyce has tried everything from buying virginity gels that she was told would repair her condition.
"When I tried that my husband complained that I was smelly down there so I dropped it. I have even tried visiting a traditional doctor but that did not help either," said Joyce who now blames the village midwife for destroying her sex life.
Many married women who have recently given birth suffer in silence. "They wrongly believe that they are loose down there, yet that is never the case," Says Dr Luke Odiemo Okunya, a Senior Lecturer in Department of Psychology at The University of Nairobi.
He adds, "It is a belief that stays on their minds, hence affecting their sex life, but because sex is private, such women never share their problems with others, but rush to older village women, who in turn give them the wrong advice."
Dr Odiemo says the myth about vagina's size after child birth is perpetuated by women who don't take time to read or get expert knowledge of human sexuality from experts.
"The myth arises from what phycologists call a state of disequilibrium. This happens when there is a mismatch between what someone sees and the reality. Women see a child's head getting out through the vagina, so they can't comprehend how a penis will fit into the vagina yet the child's head is bigger than the penis. The brain must therefore establish equilibrium; no matter how wrong it is and that's where wrong solutions like virginity soaps, oils, come in. They help settle the woman's mind."
The counsellor insists that the woman's body will always go back to normal and there is no need to worry about the size of the vagina. He adds, "The only way to satisfy women's curiosity is to ask several men whose wives' gave birth in the past six months, ninety-nine percent will tell you that there is no difference in the size of the vagina."
Loise Ngewa a mother of four on the other hand thinks men are too fussy and need to be accommodative. She believes that all women who have given birth naturally will never be the same down there. "What do they expect? That we will give birth and stay that way forever? My husband tried complaining when we got our first child and I dared him to leave or carry pregnancy of our second child.
He has never complained since then," Loise said adding that women need to be firm and also prepare their men psychologically. "Men are clueless when it comes to physical changes expected when a woman gives birth naturally," she said. Triza Mueni a mother of one eight year old boy says that she regrets not choosing the cesarean method. She blames a friend who misled her decision.
"Someone mislead me claiming that my stomach would be destroyed forever that's not the case because doctors are very careful nowadays. It's really frustrating for me because I no longer enjoy sex. My husband has not complained yet because he is probably afraid of hurting me," she said.
However, Professor Joseph Karanja of Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology says it is wrong for women to choose caesarian section over natural birth method. "A CS should only be carried out when it's an emergency. I am shocked that CS has nowadays become a lifestyle all because of a myth that the vagina becomes bigger after a woman give s birth. That's nonsense"
He adds that when a woman gives birth normally; it takes only six weeks for the birth canal tissues to get back to normal. "It is not true that giving birth through the birth canal makes the vagina bigger. The tissues expand during birth and get back to their normal size in only six weeks, thereafter, sex can be normal. Why should someone risk a C-section delivery which can even bring complications yet natural birth is less painful and if all goes well, there are no complications?" asks the don.
The don adds that sex should not be entirely based on such a myth because sex is usually more psychological than physical. "If a woman has a feeling that she isn't tight there after child birth, it is all psychological, but she can talk to her gynecologist because there are exercises she can do to help her 'tighten' it," says Professor Karanja.
Clinical Sexologist and Sex-Therapist with Ushindi Counselling, Susan Wenzel says every woman's body changes during pregnancy and after child birth. "However this does not mean that once healed, the vagina will remain loose. During and after pregnancy, women's hormones may act up and either slow or push up their sex drive, but sex shouldn't be only about satisfying your husband, it should also be about satisfying yourself, so that your partner can also be satisfied."
She adds that she advises many women who came to her office with doubts about the tightness of their vaginas after childbirth do Kegel exercises. "A woman has to be comfortable with her body, and if she feels she isn't tight enough down there, as a therapist, I ask her to do Kegel exercise, and boost her confidence levels.
I wonder why women have issues with their bodies while the men who come to my office have never even complained about the size of the vagina after childbirth. It is all a misconception that the man won't be satisfied."
She also adds that it is important for men to reassure their wives that everything is okay. "Women need constant reassurances. That way, they feel loved and also respond in kind," adds the sex therapist. Psychologist Faith Nafula Atsango who practices with Malik Counselling in the city says most men never complain about the size of the vagina after childbirth.
"Some ill-educated men can complain not because it is true but because they assume the vagina has grown lose. In reality, it is such men who get women worried over somethings that aren't worth getting worried about, and anyway, childbirth is a product of two people in a marriage. It would be selfish to blame your wife, for your perceived insecurities," says Atsango.