The definition of Vaginismus is “painful spasmodic contractions of the vagina in response to physical contact or pressure”.
The problem women with vaginismus face is that any time they try to insert an object such as a penis, tampon or speculum into the vagina, the walls tighten up because of an involuntary contraction of the pelvic floor muscles. This can be incredibly painful and cause temporary cessation of breathing. Without treatment, aside from the distress and frustration, it may get worse.
Vaginismus comes in different forms and symptoms can vary between individuals. Age, emotional issues, and medical problems can all play a role in the type of vaginismus a woman experiences. There are a variety of treatments for vaginismus, which involve emotional and physical exercises.
“Primary” vaginismus is a lifetime condition in which pain has always been present. This condition is usually discovered by women during their first attempt at intercourse. The spasms can be so intense that women have expressed the feeling of “hitting a wall” when trying to insert a tampon or other object into their vaginal opening. The pain is intense, but will subside when the attempt at vaginal entry is stopped.
“Secondary” vaginismus develops after a woman has already experienced normal sexual function. This condition can occur at any stage of life. It usually stems from a specific event, such as menopause, an injury, infection, surgery or childbirth. Emotional issues have also been known to trigger secondary vaginismus.
Even after underlying medical conditions have been corrected, the symptoms may continue if the body has become conditioned to respond to pain in a certain way.
Global and Situational Vaginismus
The last two vaginismus are “Global” and “Situational”. Global vaginismus is always present, and any object will trigger spasms and pain. Situational vaginismus occurs only in certain situations. It may happen during sex but not during gynecological exams or tampon insertion.
Symptoms can vary between individuals, but may include:
• Painful intercourse (dyspareunia) with tightness and pain that may burn or sting
• Penetration being difficult or impossible
• Pain during tampon insertion
• Pain during gynecological examination
• Generalized muscle spasm or breathing cessation during attempted intercourse
• Long-term sexual pain with or without a known cause
Vaginismus can be caused by emotional triggers, physical stressors, or both. Physical stressors may include:
• Urinary tract infections, yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis.
• Cancer or lichen sclerosis
• Inadequate foreplay
• Insufficient vaginal lubrication
• Medication side effects
Emotional triggers include:
• Fear from painful events, such as pregnancy
• Anxiety about performance because of guilt
• Relationship problems
• Traumatic life events, including rape or a history of abuse
• Childhood experiences, such as the portrayal of sex while growing up or exposure to sexual images.
Diagnosis and Treatment
A diagnosis starts with an appointment with a qualified physician, who will take a medical history and complete a pelvic exam. Depending on the cause, treatment could involve different specialists. The aim of the treatment will be to reduce the automatic tightening of the muscles, and eliminate the fear of pain.
Treatment may include pelvic floor control exercises, education, counseling, emotional drills, reducing sensitivity to insertion, or dilation training. It may take a mix of any of these treatments before vaginismus can be successfully overcome.
The important thing to remember is that you are not alone. There are ways to help with the pain, such as In The Pink, organic Intimate Massage Oils. These oils can also help lubricate the vaginal opening. The added benefit of their essential oils help to soothe the mind and body, inducing the feeling of relaxation and reception.
There are many great resources available online such as: www.katrinwithlove.com. Read inspirational stories from women who have overcome vaginismus and learn how you can also conquer your pain.