Vaginismus – Involuntary contraction of muscles around vagina
Vaginismus is a medical condition wherein the muscles around the vagina contract involuntarily during sexual penetration. Due to the involuntary contraction, sexual penetration may not happen and can affect a woman (and her partner) in a negative way psychologically.
Involuntary contraction of vaginal muscles can happen not only during sexual penetration but even when inserting a tampon during periods or when she or her partner touches the vagina for any reason. The muscles may even respond similarly when her gynecologist wants to inspect her for diagnosing the problem. Vaginismus does not allow penetration but it doesn’t stop a woman from getting aroused or reaching an orgasm.
Types of Vaginismus
Vaginismus is categorized into two types:
- Primary Vaginismus – A woman in who the penetration has never happened in her life.
- Secondary Vaginismus – A woman who achieved penetration previously but not able to let the same happen due to various reasons such as previous experiences or other psychological reasons.
Women who have reached the stage of Menopause also face the problem of Vaginismus sometimes. By the time when a woman has reached her menopause, the production of estrogen would have drastically dropped in her body. This doesn’t make the vagina wet when she is aroused, as a result, sexual penetration makes the act painful. In order to prevent the act and avoid pain, the muscles around her vagina contract involuntarily.
Dyspareunia refers to painful intercourse and should not be confused with Vaginismus. To know more about Dyspareunia – painful intercourse, please visit the article.
What causes Vaginismus?
The exact reason what causes Vaginismus in women is not known. Vaginismus problem can be experienced by women who are in otherwise perfectly healthy physically. Some reasons that can cause Vaginismus include:
- Previous experiences related to sexual intercourse – sexual abuse or trauma or injury that was caused during the act.
- Emotional or psychological factors – The way a woman was brought up or if she considers sex as a taboo thing etc. Even in case when a woman had to marry and have sex with a person who is not of her interest, Vaginismus can happen. This condition can more often seen in Asian countries than in the western world.
Symptoms of Vaginismus
- Involuntary contraction of muscles around the vagina when it is touched or during sexual penetration is the primary symptom of Vaginismus. When a woman is newly having sex, this condition is very much expected and considered normal unless this keeps happening persistently.
- Along with the physical symptoms, psychological symptoms of Vaginismus include fear of penetration and reduced sexual desire as a result.
- Burning or stinging pain in the vagina when she tries to insert tampon or a masturbating device or trying to have penetrative sex.
If you are suffering from Vaginismus, you can try having other kinds of sexually stimulating acts with your partner or alone including oral sex or a gentle massage. This can help relax muscles around the vagina during actual penetration.
How is Vaginismus diagnosed?
When you report your involuntary contraction of muscles around your vagina when attempting sexual penetration, your doctor will start with a set of questions to understand your sexual behaviour, history and if you had any traumatic conditions that took a toll on your brain.
He/she then starts with a physical examination by hand or by using any device. You must relax and let your doctor do the diagnosis. Most of the times, there won’t be any actual physical problem related to Vaginismus but in case, if your doctor finds any other problems that should be attended to, you will be informed. During the examination, your gynecologist will look for any sign of infection or scarring that may be a result of previous surgery.
How is Vaginismus treated?
In most of the cases, Vaginismus is a treatable condition and can be corrected with counselling and exercises. Dr. Deepa Ganesh at her Chennai clinic, can provide you with sex therapy and counselling. If she feels that you need to visit a counsellor who specializes in sexual disorders, she can redirect you to him/her.
Use of vaginal dilators
Your doctor or counsellor may suggest using a vaginal dilator to losen up the vagina after penetration. A dilator is inserted into the vagina and it gradually gets bigger and helps the muscles around the vagina stretch. You need to get yourself a little trained by the counsellor on how to use the dilator. You can do it by yourself or your partner can assist you. Your counsellor may also teach you some relaxation techniques that can help your muscles relax during the act.
What happens if you don’t get Vaginismus treated?
Vaginismus is considered as one of the sexual function disorders in women. If you are suffering from this condition, you will need to seek a gynecologist or a sexual health therapist as soon as you can. Abstaining from sex can take a toll of you mentally and can get into troubles with your partner. It can add to the stress that you might already have and affect the relationships in your family. You can also try different positions with your partner and see if anything can help before you see a doctor.