Pain during sex is never normal. You should never feel pain from penetration during sex or from tampons during your period.
If you're experiencing pain during insertion, you may have vaginismus. This is a phenomenon where the pelvic muscles tighten and don't allow anything into the vaginal canal.
We don't know exactly why women experience this, but it can be from physical or mental causes.
Some professionals believe it stems from sexual abuse, but it's not always abused victims who suffer from it.
Whatever reason your body has decided to keep things out, it causes some serious pain. It can even put a strain on marriages!
Learn more about living with vaginismus and potential treatments below.
WHAT IS VAGINISMUS, MEDICALLY?
As we just touched on above, Vaginismus is involuntary of the pelvic muscles. Think of the pelvic muscles as a tight U shape around the vaginal canal.
In a functioning vagina, the two legs of the U shape relax and loosen with arousal. This allows penetration without discomfort.
In a woman with Vaginismus, the loosening doesn't happen. If anything, the two legs of the U shaped pelvic muscles close completely.
It's like the vagina turns into an impenetrable wall, against the person's will.
If you try penetration while the muscles are tight like this, you'll experience a "burning pain". It has nothing to do with the size of the penis - women can experience this tightening with something as small as a tampon.
Even the lubed up speculums that gynecologists use during annual exams can cause pain. Some women find that they can't tolerate a speculum at all, while others need a child-sized device.
With smaller devices, gynecological exams are rarely pleasant. Women usually experience this medical pain before they're diagnosed with Vaginismus.
The pain, shame, and discomfort often encourage hesitation for further treatment.
Without medical help, women may try to have sex through the pain and make their condition worse.
WHAT CAN DOCTORS DO?
It's important to talk to your doctor if you have pain during sex. Although you don't have to be born with Vaginismus, it can still be developed at any point in life.
Doctors can only help you with the following methods if you talk to them about it. Don't assume they're going to use a speculum and do a painful exam - you can request that they don't.
They're there to help you, not hurt you.
TREATMENT OPTION 1: DILATORS
Do you know about ear gauging? It's when people stretch their ear piercing holes with gradually increasing plugs.
Using dilators is like that, except the hole is meant to stretch, and it won't look strange when you're eighty.
When you go to the doctor's office, they'll show you the dilators. It's a procession of dilators, like very small dildos, that you'll increase in size.
They start very small. You may feel some discomfort, but if you do your homework and relax, it shouldn't cause serious pain.
During your first appointment, the doctor will explain the process and a nurse will insert the first dilator. Then, you show them that you can do it yourself and take the dilator home.
At home, you practice using the dilator for 10-15 minutes a night. At your next appointment, you repeat the process with something a little bigger.
And on it goes. It can take months to a year to work up to a penis sized dilator.
Some people bring their husbands or partners into the therapy, turning the dilator into a sex toy of sorts. It can be a good way to make your partner feel involved, but it's still physical therapy.
OPTION 1.5: ANXIETY MEDICATION
If your doctor believes that your vaginismus is mental or from stress, they may suggest an anti-anxiety medication. This is used in conjunction with the dilator method to help women relax and accept the dilator.
Some women aren't comfortable with taking a medication that changes their mental state. It's not necessary to take anti-anxieties by any means, but it's an option you can and should bring up.
OPTION 2: BOTOX
Yes, you read that right. Doctors can treat Vaginismus with the same thing they put in superstar's foreheads. How does it work?
It relaxes the pelvic muscle, allowing it to function normally. It's not a magic fix, but most women can return to normal sexual activity with one treatment.
That means one shot could get you back to your sex life! If you find that you're still having trouble after your botox shot, it's safe to use in addition to the dilatory process.
The botox shot lasts up to four months and is likely covered by your insurance since it's not solely for aesthetic use.
It's safe to continue botox use throughout your life. You may find that your vaginismus lessens with treatment over time, even if it doesn't go 100% when the shot wears off.
OPTION 3: THERAPY
Good old behavioral therapy is a great step for women who experience Vaginismus and their partners. It can address and save psychological issues that could be behind the disorder.
If there aren't psychological causes, therapy can help the partner understand and not feel rejected from lack of sex.
YOUR VAGINISMUS OPTIONS
The way you treat vaginismus is about what you're comfortable with. If you want a quick and very effective fix, try botox.
Dr. Schwartz's patients have a 97% success rate from one botox treatment. He'll be happy to walk you through the treatment and give you a consultation before any needles come out.
You can schedule an appointment online and someone from his office will get in touch.
Give yourself the gift of relief. Call him today!