Vaginismus is the vagina’s natural way of preventing anything from entering it. This can be some or all forms of penetration and does not just include sexual acts but can also include the use of tampons and the vagina may sting or burn when this response occurs. Vaginismus occurs when the muscles within the vaginal walls tighten involuntarily, and it can be incredibly painful, frustrating and upsetting for a woman suffering from this, as well as having consequences on her partner, sex life and emotional/mental health. Vaginismus is not uncommon in women and can be treated in different ways, depending on what is more suitable for the women in question.
There are three different types of vaginismus which can occur in women. Knowing which one a woman is suffering from enables the correct treatment to take place as effectively and quickly as possible. The three types are as follows:
- Primary: This occurs in women who have never been through any form of vaginal penetration before;
- Secondary: Occurring in women who have incurred penetration previously but cannot now participate in the penetration of any vaginal nature. This is frustrating, painful and often impossible to deal with without medical intervention;
- Situational: Happening in some situations but not all, the vaginal muscles go in to spasm to prevent penetration though this does not happen every time vaginal penetration is attempted.
There are multiple elements responsible for causing vaginismus to occur in women though there are some common themes, including:
- The thought of sex as being an unpleasant feeling or painful;
- A previous negative or traumatic sexual experience like rape or abuse of the sexual variety;
- Negative body image;
- Believing that sex is wrong, shameful or dirty;
- Specific medical conditions;
- Not being in a happy relationship or fearing the person who is going to penetrate her;
- Being frightened by the prospect of getting pregnant or going through the process of childbirth.
There are many myths related to vaginismus that should be eradicated from thought as they have no correlation to vaginismus, its symptoms, or the induction of it occurring in the first place. These are myths such as the following:
- Your vagina is too small;
- Your vagina does not have any sort of opening for penetration to occur.
There are multiple effective ways in which vaginismus can be treated. If you or your partner suffers from this debilitating complaint, always seek help or get your doctor to refer you to a specialist. Rest assured that you are not the only person or couple in the world in this position, as this is a very common complaint and can be rectified.
To begin treatment, you will need to work with a therapist so that you can address any mental issues which may prevent you from undertaking penetration. The brain and our thoughts impact our body in incredible ways, and this is perfect evidence of this. Once you have seen your therapist for enough times to work out if there is a mental block with penetration or not, they will work out what the next step is for you specifically. Sometimes it is purely a mental block, but for some people, there is a medical issue which seeks intervention from a doctor, like vulvar vestibulitis.
When undergoing therapy to overcome vaginismus, the therapy will take on the model of three parts to assist you with vaginal penetration. Not only will this make penetration possible, but it will also help you in other ways such as your mental and emotional health, the happiness of your relationship and promote body image, self-confidence, and self-worth.
Therapy regarding vaginismus aims to:
- Re-educate your understanding and eradicate any myths or misinformation which may be the cause of your vaginismus;
- Show you how to be in total control when you feel fear if you are suffering from some form of phobia which may be causing vaginismus;
- Address underlying or past issues which may contribute towards your fear or dislike or sex, closeness, or penetration.
If you suffer from vaginismus and have a regular partner, your therapist will encourage you to work together to overcome your involuntary vaginal tightening. The first few steps are to be done independently, and a lot of this is about self-exploration before you are comfortable with being penetrated by your partner. The steps can be incredibly simple to follow and can be described as follows:
- Explore your body independently to learn more about yourself, your anatomy and your body parts;
- Engage in exploring your body with a mirror so that you are able to see the different parts of your vagina and identify the areas that feel nice etc.;
- When you are comfortable with your own body, you can begin to penetrate your vagina with your fingers so that you are able to physically eradicate some of the common misconceptions, myths or fears, like the fact that you have no vaginal opening, that it will be painful or that you will rip as soon as anything penetrates your vagina;
- Once you are happy to move on, you can begin to use tools known as vaginal trainers. These come in four different sizes and act as a synthetic penis penetrating the vagina. This will encourage you to believe that your vagina is capable of receiving a penis, that nothing bad, scary or painful will happen and you can get used to the sensations as you increase the size of the vaginal trainer;
- Penetration from your partner can now commence, and the aim is now to see if you can enjoy and participate fully in engaging in a pleasurable sexual act. The enjoyment of sex for both parties concerned should now be possible.
If the technique of using vaginal trainers does not work for you, then there are other areas that may need to be looked in to during therapy in greater detail, such as past experiences, relationship issues or fear of pregnancy and childbirth. All of these things can be overcome, it just requires the source of the issue to be found so that the correct technique can be used to solve vaginismus.