Vaginismus: What You Need to Know
Vaginismus is the involuntary contraction of the vaginal muscles. It makes sexual intercourse and gynaecological examinations very difficult, often impossible.
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What is Vaginismus?
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), vaginismus is categorised under Genito-Pelvic Pain / Penetration Disorder. It refers to a condition in which women experience difficulty having intercourse and feel significant pain upon penetration or painful intercourse.
It is one of the most common female sexual problems that can severely affect quality of life and also cause subfertility issues. Sexual relationships and sexual confidence can be ruined over repeatedly failed attempts. Natural conception becomes close to impossible in most cases if vaginismus is left untreated. Both situations are highly stressful events for the vaginismus patients and their partners.
Types of Vaginismus
Primary vaginismus occurs when the woman has never been able to have penetrative sex because of the involuntary contraction of her vaginal muscles.
Secondary vaginismus occurs when a woman has previously been able to have penetrative sex but is no longer able to.
Global vaginismus means it is always happening, not only in penetrative sex but any object will trigger it.
Situational vaginismus only occurs under certain conditions. For example, it may only happen during sex but not during other penetration like gynecological exam or tampon insertion.
How do I know if I really have it?
Symptoms for vaginismus may vary between individuals.
But the most common sign would be the difficulty in achieving vaginal penetration or insertion. This happens due to the uncontrolled tightness and involuntary contractions of the vaginal muscles. It is also possible that you feel pain during the act of penetration or insertion because the muscles around the vagina are uncontrollably guarding and blocking the penetration.
Painful intercourse becomes neither enjoyable nor pleasurable and is likely to create a vicious cycle of fearful sex experience for the couple.
You may also imagine vaginismus as a defense mechanism that our brain signals to our vagina which causes the surrounding muscles to contract upon penetration.
To be really certain that you have vaginismus, you may consult a gynaecologist or a trained Women’s Health Physiotherapist.
Why do I have it?
So far, researchers could not identify a specific reason as to why women are experiencing this. It is however usually linked with anxiety and fear of having sex.
For example, social stigma about sex and pain during sex could affect our anxiety levels as we do not know what to expect from sex.
Medical reasons such as urinary tract infection (UTI) or yeast infection, pelvic surgery or other medical side effects could also be the possible causes of vaginismus.
What can I do? Where can I Seek Treatment for Vaginismus?
Combined treatment is recommended to treat vaginismus. This is because we need to deal with its physical and psychological aspects.
One of the main methods is called desensitisation. This is where we deal with the fear and anxiety while training the vaginal muscles to experience the feeling of penetration. Muscle relaxations and Kegels exercises will also be done to help relax the surrounding muscles.
Sex education is also an important part of the treatment for you to gain a better understanding of your body and sex. You will know what to expect and how to deal with them in a more positive manner.
However, combined treatment takes time and effort for both the professionals and the patient. Both parties need to work together in order to see and feel improvements.
Communication is particularly important to ensure that both parties understand the treatment process. The patient’s commitment to practice it at home is key to treatment success as well.
Practice means permanent. With more practice (especially when you involve your partner), you can absolutely get cured faster. On the flip side, if we choose to ignore the condition, our body may need a much longer time to get out of this undesirable learned behavior. Our fear of pain during sex may affect our relationships and self-esteem as well.
Are You Ready to Get Cured?
If you are ready to treat and reverse this condition, Vibrance Pelvic Care Centre is here to provide certified, comprehensive therapy that combines the expertise of our Sexologist and Women’s Health Physiotherapist to help you overcome it. You can expect noticeable, objective improvements after undergoing your personalised treatment plan. Management of these problems can be challenging, but success is rewarding for all our clients.
Read more about our pioneering and highly effective treatment for vaginismus here and find out why we are doctors’ trusted referral partner in supporting their patients to overcome vaginismus.
On the other hand, if you think or suspect that you may have vaginismus or have had pain during sex (dyspareunia), do seek consultation with us to see if that’s really the case. It is better to seek help as early as possible and prevent it from becoming the new normal in times of intimacy (or lackof).
Sexologist at Vibrance Pelvic Care Centre
Tel: +603-22012115 / WhatsApp Careline +011-59385962 (W.P. KL – Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Genito-Pelvic Pain or Penetration Disorder (Sexual Pain Disorder). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/genito-pelvic-pain-or-penetration-disorder-sexual-pain-disorder
Vaginismus. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/women/guide/vaginismus-causes-symptoms-treatments
What you need to know about vaginismus. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/175261.php
5 Signs You Have Vaginismus. Retrieved from https://thepelvicexpert.com/blog/5-signs-you-have-vaginismus/
Pacik, P. T., & Geletta, S. (2017). Vaginismus treatment: Clinical trials follow up 241 patients. Sexual Medicine, 5(2), e114-e123. doi:10.1016/j.esxm.2017.02.002
Dyspareunia (painful sexual intercourse) – http://www.myhealth.gov.my/en/dyspareunia-painful-sexual-intercourse/