*This article contains sexual themes and language*
Netflix’s Sex Education has been hailed for starting conversations about common sexual issues that rarely get the attention they deserve.
Each episode, teen sex therapist Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield) advises his classmates on a variety of issues. But the one that took most of the cast by surprise was a sensitive health issue that befell Lily (Tanya Reynolds).
Despite being apparently very eager to lose her virginity and get that awkwardness out of the way, she finds she is unable to complete the act.
But what is her condition? And why does it happen?
What is vaginismus?
According to the NHS, “vaginismus is the body’s automatic reaction to the fear of some or all types of vaginal penetration”.
“It can be painful and distressing,” the website reads, “but it can be treated.”
But for a layman description, we defer to Tanya Reynolds, who plays Lily, who suffers with vaginismus in the series.
“It’s where your vagina is a couple of steps ahead of your brain, and your brain thinks you want sex, and your vagina is like no, you don’t, and your vagina seizes up and you can’t get anything in. Not a tampon, not a finger, not a penis.
“I didn’t know it was a thing. And then I read the script and I realised that I had it once myself, and then I learned that so many women suffer with it for a really long time. It’s psychological, it’s your vagina taking care of you and going ‘Honey, no no no no, you don’t want this, trust’. So that was nice to learn that.”
Sex Education season 2 is streaming now on Netflix