Even if you're a generally upfront and open person, there are certain personal problems that may leave you feeling embarrassed and alone. For instance, if you suffer from any type of painful sexual intercourse, this may be something you don't want to mention to a doctor. But there are many things you need to know if you have vaginismus — the main thing being to speak up when necessary.
First, what is this condition? According to the Mayo Clinic, vaginismus is caused by involuntary spasms of the vaginal wall muscles that can make penetration and intercourse difficult, if not impossible. The severity of the condition varies from woman to woman. As noted in WebMD, some women with vaginismus may even experience pain when inserting a tampon or undergoing a routine pelvic exam. It is a complex condition that may have many different causes ranging from the psychological to the purely physical.
Whatever the cause may be, if you suspect vaginismus is interfering with your sex life, don't hesitate to reach out to a medical professional for help. Unfortunately, given the private and potentially embarrassing nature of the condition, many women opt to suffer in silence, but this does not have to be the case. Read on to learn more about the condition, its causes, and what you can do about it.
1. Stretching Is NOT Necessary
Just thinking about this is enough to make anybody cringe. For the record, women with vaginismus do not need to stretch their vagina in any way, as stated by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada. You may want to experiment with dilators, sure, but this is not about stretching out your body. Dealing with vaginismus is all about learning muscle control.
2. It Is Not Uncommon
Even if you've never heard of the condition before, don't worry: you are far from alone. According to Vaginismus.com, around 2 out of every 1,000 women may suffer from vaginismus. However, some experts believe that number may be even higher in reality, because plenty of women who deal with the condition may never speak up about it with a doctor. Unfortunately, suffering in silence does not help anyone.
3. Thoughts May Affect It
The mind-body connection may play a big role in your vaginismus. According to the National Health Service, negative thoughts about sex, or even a fear of pregnancy, can be a factor in vaginismus. If you would like to become more sex positive, then it may be a good time to seek out therapy from a trained professional. Your thoughts don't have to define you.
4. It May Be Caused By Physical Damage
Even if you're the most sex-positive person around, your vaginismus may be the result of physical damage to your vagina. According to Medical News Today, childbirth, surgeries, or even a urinary tract infection may act as a trigger for vaginismus. If you suspect this may be the root of your sexual dysfunction, don't hesitate to contact your doctor for help. Remember, doctors have seen it all, so there's no need to keep this to yourself.
5. Treatment May Vary From Person To Person
Because the potential causes of vaginismus are so varied, its treatment runs the gamut as well. According to Healthline, you may be advised to seek out sex therapy, perform Kegel exercises, or even work with vaginal dilators to become more comfortable with your body. Again, it's important to remember that there is nothing wrong with you or your body, you just might benefit from some different approaches. And of course if your vaginismus is caused by more physical factors, then your treatment will be tailored to your particular condition. Basically, there is not a one-size-fits-all cure.
6. Medication Is Also Available
In addition to pelvic floor exercises and therapy, your doctor may recommend medication as a potential way to lessen the effects of vaginismus. As noted in Medscape, anesthetics, muscle relaxers, and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) medications have been used to treat the condition. It's just another potential avenue for treatment.
7. Sex Should NOT Hurt
If you've had this condition for a while, it's possible you have just accepted that your sex life will be painful. But this does not have to be the case. As noted in Everyday Health, pain during sex is a sign that something is wrong and a definite reason to get advice from your favorite gynecologist or other health professional. There is no reason for you to downplay it or just deal with it.
8. Your Partner Can Help
Sure, it may be easy for vaginismus to drive a wedge between couples; after all, if the condition is undiagnosed and misunderstood, then your partner may feel rejected. And if rejection is the last thing you want to convey, then vaginismus can add another layer of complexity to your relationship. That's why it's important to have your partner's support while you seek treatment for vaginismus, according to Psychology Today. After all, feeling like you've lost control of your own body is frightening enough; you need someone who has your back during this time.
9. You Aren't Frigid
Do people actually accuse women of being sexually frigid? I mean, it sounds like a term that should have died out in the 1800s. At any rate, women with vaginismus aren't frigid. You can consciously want sex, and then have your vaginal muscles close up shop anyway, as explained on NBC News. It's potentially frustrating as all get-out, and in no way reflective of your sexual prowess.
10. Treatments Are Often Effective
Your odds of recovery are probably pretty high if you reach out for help. As noted on Vaginismus.com, the condition is one of the most treatable of female sexual disorders. You just have to take the initiative and make that appointment.
11. Phobia May Be The Cause
People can develop phobias about almost anything, and with the persistent negativity surrounding sexuality in much of modern culture, it's no surprise that sex is a potential trigger for phobias. As noted in Refinery 29, vaginismus may be caused by a phobia of vaginal penetration that results in involuntary muscle tightening. If you suspect this may be the case in your situation, then therapy may help you get to the root of your problem.