What is vaginismus?
Vaginismus is a pelvic floor dysfunction which causes it to involuntarily contract when you attempt vaginal penetration.
This contraction can make it difficult to impossible to insert a penis, tampon, or anything else into your vagina.
There are 3 types of vaginismus:
Primary: This can prevent penetration when first using tampons or trying to insert a menstrual cup. It can also prevent penetrative sex. For this reason, primary vaginismus is generally discovered during puberty or in early adulthood.
Secondary: This can occur following childbirth, during menopause or following pelvic surgery or trauma. That trauma can be physical or chemical in nature (such as a bad fall, radiotherapy for cancer treatment or an infection).
Spontaneous: This can happen at any point in life. This spontaneous is the body’s natural defence mechanism if penetration is forced, but it can also occur when a tampon or vaginal weight is being used. In that instance, the pelvic floor involuntarily contracts preventing removal of the weight or tampon.
Reasons for vaginismus can be a wide variety of things, which include:
- Bad sexual experience
- A traumatic medical examination
- The belief that sex is wrong or shameful
- Painful medical conditions
This condition can be very worrying for people because it isn’t something that you can control.
The important thing to note here is: you are not broken. You might have lost your confidence, this is totally normal and the good news is, you don’t have to let this stop you from getting your sexy on.
Even more good news is that there are treatments that you can do to help!
Psychosexual therapy is beneficial for people who have a negative view of their body or sex, as this will be contributing to their vaginismus.
Hypnotherapy is one of the psychosexual options used to treat the condition because it lets you communicate directly with your subconscious mind.
Medically it is treated by dilators to try and open the vaginal muscles which can be very painful and ineffective.
These devices can help to stretch the vaginal opening.
However, there is no arousal present, the person needs to feel in control and in the mood to do this.
Numbing sensations can also be prescribed which numbs the genitals to allow penetration but allow for no pleasurable sensations either.
Pelvic floor exercises
These exercises help to strengthen the muscles around your bladder, bottom and vagina.
The treatments are done initially with a specialised pelvic floor therapist, but eventually are done on your own once you have the hang of things. Use this NHS page for more details on specific exercises you can do: What are pelvic floor exercises? – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
Edited by Gabby Toderascu