The vagina is a special body part, for very many reasons. However, like all special things, it needs to be treated sensitively. You must have heard people who are terribly scared of sexual intercourse because they associate pain with it. This is a common symptom of a problem called Vaginismus.
Vaginismus is the body’s automatic reaction to the fear of some or all types of vaginal penetration. Your vaginal muscles tighten up on their own whenever penetration is attempted. It is when the muscles of a woman’s vagina squeeze or spasm when something is entering it, like a tampon or a penis. It can range from mildly uncomfortable to quite painful. Vaginismus makes penetration extremely difficult, and in some cases, impossible.
Interesting to note, according to WebMD, doctors don’t know exactly why vaginismus happens. It’s usually linked to anxiety or fear of having sex. But it’s not always clear which came first, the vaginismus or the anxiety. The fear could be about pregnancy, pain, getting a sexually transmitted infection. It can also be caused by anxiety disorders.
It can also be caused by religious or cultural taboos about sex as well as shame around having sex. It can also be caused by having unaroused sex which is having sex when you don’t really want to. Also, fears of not being good enough in bed can lead to vaginismus.
A different article on Cleveland Clinic attributes vaginismus to childbirth injuries, prior surgery, or psychological reasons such as negative feelings about sex, perhaps due to past sexual abuse, rape, or trauma.
Vaginismus may also be caused by the fear that your vagina is too small, an unpleasant medical examination, believing sex is shameful or wrong, or even a painful medical condition, like thrush.
Secondary vaginismus also occurs due to relationship problems, vaginal infections or vulval dermatological problems, gynaecological problems like endometriosis, gynaecological cancer (and its treatments) or pelvic surgery. Also after pregnancy, vaginismus can occur after being pregnant, just after delivery or as a new parent.
Signs and symptoms
- Painful sex or dyspareunia.
- Inability to have sex or have a pelvic exam due to vaginal muscle spasms or pain.
- Discomfort or pain during vaginal penetration.
- Inability to insert a tampon or pain when trying to insert a tampon.
- Inability to insert a sex toy or device or pain while doing so.
- Loss of sexual desire or performance anxiety
- Triggered spasms from massage, foreplay, or oral stimulation.
Preventing vaginismus may prove difficult seeing as it is sometimes both physical and mental. Seeing as the causes for vaginismus are not always known, then it becomes hard to know how to prevent it. There isn’t any known way to prevent Vaginismus, but the good news is you can treat the condition.
Vaginismus is treatable. All you need to do is get a diagnosis and seek treatment from relevant professionals. Here are some forms of treatment for vaginismus.
1. Sex therapy
Some people do not have proper information regarding sex, perhaps because in some cultures such things are often left unspoken. Education typically involves learning about your anatomy and what happens during sexual arousal and intercourse. Relaxation techniques and hypnosis may also promote relaxation and help you feel more comfortable with intercourse.
2. Vaginal dilators
Vaginal dilators may also help a person who is battling vaginismus. Place the cone-shaped dilators in your vagina. The dilators will get progressively bigger. This helps the vaginal muscles stretch and become flexible.
3. Physical therapy
As we said, vaginismus manifests itself mainly through physical pain. For this reason, physical therapy becomes necessary. Obtain a referral to a physical therapist who specializes in the pelvic floor. They can help you to learn more about how to use dilators and to learn about deep relaxation techniques.
4. A Multidisciplinary Approach
What has shown to be more effective for vaginismus is a multidisciplinary approach which includes medical management of underlying physical issues, sex education about vaginismus and the pelvic floor, going to see a therapist to discuss what psychological issues with sex you could be having, relaxation exercises by doing pelvic floor physiotherapy and also learning about what gives you pleasurable, as unaroused sex is a common cause of painful sex.
Check out the Twitter post that inspired this article and understand exactly what it’s like living with vaginismus and struggling to have sex.
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