DO YOU HAVE VAGINISMUS? THE COMMON SEXUAL CONDITION YOU’VE PROBABLY NEVER HEARD OF
IF IT HURTS TO HAVE A TAMPON IN OR IF YOU EXPERIENCE PAINFUL SEX WITH YOUR PARTNER, YOU’RE NOT ALONE. LIVING WITH VAGINISMUS CAN BE EMOTIONALLY PARALYZING AND PHYSICALLY EXCRUCIATING. LUCKILY, THERE ARE PROVEN TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR THIS COMMON SEXUAL CONDITION THAT AFFECTS MILLIONS OF WOMEN.
Vaginismus is one of the leading causes of painful sexual intercourse and a tight pelvic floor. Very common, but rarely discussed, vaginismus is the condition where women experience a persistent inability or difficulty allowing the vagina to be penetrated by either a penis, finger, or intimate adult toy, although emotionally desiring and consenting to said sexual acts. Vaginismus can be mild, moderate, or extreme/severe, often leaving the sufferer feeling bewildered, shamed, and emotionally isolated. Sometimes, it can come and go without warning. Those who experience or have experienced vaginismus describe its effects as being that of a burning, cramping, and/or tightening sensation in the vaginal area, and in some cases, nothing can penetrate the vagina at all. If left untreated, vaginismus can lead to the sufferer avoiding intimacy on any level or forming new relationships in abject fear of new dating possibilities leading to sex. After all, when it comes to dating and relationships, most roads lead to the bedroom. Because many women keep their condition under wraps in fear of societal stigma or judgment from their partner, they often suffer in silence for many years without seeking the professional help and treatment that are widely available.
There are many causes that can lead to the development of vaginismus – both physically and emotionally -based. Here are the most common causes of vaginismus:
Worrisome emotions around the possibly of getting pregnant, contracting an STD, shame, or “just not feeling it” can all contribute to the vagina literally going on lockdown, thus causing unbearable pain.
Shame or guilt surrounding cultural or religious norms can leave a woman feeling sexually unaroused, which can lead to painful intercourse.
Abuse or Trauma
Past sexual/emotional/mental abuse or rape can trigger sexual anxiety and dysfunction for many women.
Unresolved issues or love on the rocks can throw a wet towel on any libido, hindering a woman’s ability to completely “let go” and “be in the moment” during lovemaking.
Infections, skin irritations, endometriosis, cancer, and other medical issues are sometimes secondary triggers of vaginismus.
Poor Body Image or Low Self-Esteem
Lack of self-esteem, eating disorders, or body dysmorphia can oftentimes lead to feelings of inadequacy between the sheets, thus triggering vaginismus symptoms.
Because vaginismus is a complex condition, encompassing both physical and psychological causes, so is its treatment trajectory. Patients usually undergo a customized combination of multidisciplinary therapeutic options to yield a positive outcome or permanently cure their vaginismus symptoms. Here are the most common treatment options to help reverse distressing vaginismus symptoms:
The origins of vaginismus are thoroughly and thoughtfully explained, so sufferers can have a better understanding of their body and how their sexual response plays a factor on their symptoms. Learning to relax the pelvic floor from tightening during times of sexual intimacy is demonstrated.
Patients undergo a full medical evaluation to address any underlying physical conditions that may or may not be contributing to their sexual dysfunction.
Patients are advised to seek the counseling of a therapist or psychiatrist on a regular basis to help resolve past sexual, physical, or emotional trauma that may be linked to their vaginismus symptoms.
Botox® for Vaginismus
Much like its widely popular cosmetic use, Botox® injec tions are often used to relax the spastic vaginal muscles that obstruct penetration and hinder a women’s ability to experience pain-free sexual satisfaction.
In some cases, anti-depressant pharmaceuticals are prescribed to enhance a woman’s treatment plan, including anesthetic therapy, such as lidocaine gel that is applied to the vaginal opening to help relax the muscles and prevent spasms during sexual intercourse. Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, mindful meditation, and gentle self-touching exercises not only help to sedate the mind and soothe the senses but help to relax the vaginal and vulva. A little “me time” mixed in with some solo sessions can work wonders on your sexual woes.
If you suspect you may be experiencing vaginismus and would like to discuss effective treatment options, we’re here to help. Please reach out to our office to speak with any one of our highly skilled staff members and to set up a one-on-one consultation with Dr. Jaime Schwartz.