Vaginismus: What You Need to Know
Vaginismus is the involuntary contraction of the vaginal muscles. It makes sexual intercourse, conceiving naturally 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.
If you have vaginismus, sexual relationships and sexual confidence can be ruined because of repeatedly failed attempts. Natural conception becomes so difficult 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.
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 because they are qualified to offer you the necessary guidance.
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.
Treatment Methods for Vaginismus
Good news is — vaginismus is a treatable condition especially if treated early.
To treat vaginismus, a combined treatment method is recommended. This means to effectively treat vaginismus, both physical and psychological aspects need to be considered by the therapist.
There are not many locations in Malaysia that can treat vaginismus using a combined approach, so do clarify with the centre / practice / clinic if they have done it before.
One of the main methods used in curing vaginismus 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 Kegel exercises will also be done to help relax the surrounding muscles.
Physical therapy aside, sex education is also an important part of your vaginismus treatment for you to get to know your body better. Having awareness and knowledge will let us know what to expect and how to deal with sex in a more positive manner.
Practice means permanent. With more practice (especially when you involve your partner), you can absolutely get cured faster.
The same holds true if we choose to ‘practice’ more with the wrong methods or if we ignore the condition. Our body will end up “learning” the undesired behaviour and reactions, and we will need more time and therapy to get out of this situation.
The most undesirable effect being – our fear of pain during sex that can ruin our relationships and self-esteem!
Are You Ready to Get Vaginismus 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 team of Sexologist and Women’s Health Physiotherapists to help you overcome it.
You can definitely expect noticeable, objective improvements after undergoing your personalised treatment plan like all our vaginismus clients have.
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)