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Vaginismus is an incredibly frustrating condition affecting women. Vaginismus occurs when the pubococcygeus, or PC, muscles contract suddenly and uncontrollably before anything can enter the vagina. This prevents the affected women from having sexual intercourse, using tampons and having a regular pelvic exam by their gynecologist. The condition varies from woman to woman, making these activities very painful or even impossible. It is especially frustrating because the woman does not have control over this reflex; it is compared to shutting one’s eye as something is coming toward it. Primary vaginismus is the condition in which a woman has never been able to experience penetration, and secondary vaginismus is something a woman develops after she has been able to experience penetration before.
Common Symptoms of Vaginismus
- ” Burning, stinging or other pain during penetration
- ” Difficult or impossible entry of objects into the vagina (includes tampons and gynecological instruments)
- ” Painful penetration after childbirth, infections, STDs, surgeries, cancer, etc.
- ” Spasms in other muscles during attempted penetration, including lower back and leg muscles
- ” Feelings of shame, disappointment, failure and frustration
While Vaginismus can cause a lot of stress and frustration, there are treatment options.
What Causes Vaginismus?
Vaginismus can have both psychological and physical origins. Psychological reasons for vaginismus include having been taught sex is vulgar and wrong or immoral, or the opposite: being taught about sex in a very graphic, violent or inappropriate nature at too young an age. Sometimes women who have experienced physical abuse or rape, or who have witnessed such events develop vaginismus. Fear of penetration can also be part of vaginismus. If a woman has never had anything penetrate her before, she may be fearful of the pain associated with it. Other psychological factors include general stress and anxiety. Physical causes of vaginismus include a condition called Focal Vaginismus, which includes inflammation and physical pain. Previous urinary tract infections and yeast infections can lead to vaginismus. Experiencing invasive trauma can cause vaginismus, along with any previous surgeries, STDs, childbirth, cancer, and so on.
Treatment Options for Vaginismus
There is hope for treatment for those affected by this frustrating condition. Depending on the cause of each individual case, treatment options vary. Women with primary vaginismus almost always suffer from psychological causes; therefore, seeking help from a therapist is of great help. A therapist is able to help his/her patient eliminate fear, traumatic stress, anxiety, or any other issue that may be causing vaginismus. For both primary and secondary vaginismus, soothing pH creams can be used, along with other topical anti-inflammatory drugs. With the help of a sexual therapist or medical professional, dilation exercises can be performed to help the vagina gradually become comfortable with penetration. It’s always a good idea for a woman to explore her own sexuality with her own touch. Being able to identify what you are sexually responsive to can aid in lubrication, which will make penetration easier and less painful. Botox is also used to relax muscle spasms.
What Should You Do?
A woman suffering from any form of vaginismus should seek help. Depending on the causes, you may want to contact your regular health care provider or gynecologist, or a local psychologist. Whatever you feel is best, you need to do. Vaginismus is not something you should have to live with. There is a whole new world of experiences and sensations you can be a part of if you seek help; do I for yourself.
- Wikipedia – Wikipedia listing for vaginismus, including description, symptoms, causes, treatment and outlook.
- Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) – Resource for women’s health issues, sexual health and vaginismus.
- Medline Plus – Information about sources, symptoms, treatment and other resources for vaginismus/
- Women’s Therapy Center – Information about vaginismus, including a lot of treatment info.
- Vaginismus.com – Website designed to help women overcome sexual pain.