What is Vaginismus?
Vaginismus is an involuntary condition in which the muscles of pelvic floor tighten when intercourse is attempted. This involuntary tightening causes the vagina to tighten causing intercourse to become restrictive enough that penile penetration is impossible. As with many medical conditions, vaginismus exhibits varied types and include primary and secondary vaginismus.
In cases of primary vaginismus, a women will report never being able to have vaginal intercourse without pain and may at times be unable to use tampons or undergo pelvic examinations. At times, these muscle spasms can also extend to other muscle groups and may actually cause halted breathing in some women.
Secondary vaginismus is a condition which is developed after a history of pleasurable intercourse and is generally caused by a medical condition, trauma, childbirth surgery or menopause. This type of vaginismus is most commonly associated when women experience infections for example a urinary or yeast infection, pain from childbirth, menopause or some sort of surgical procedure yet after healing of the offending cause, women go on to continue to experience pain with intercourse. This form of vaginismus can worsen over time even resulting in altering a woman’ ability to achieve an orgasm.
Symptoms of vaginismus include:
- Burning/stinging pain with tightness during vaginal intercourse
- Pain with penile insertion, pain on penile entry or impossible penile penetration
- Ongoing pain or sexual discomfort after an event such as childbirth, infection (urinary, yeast, STD’s, etc), surgery such as a hysterectomy, cancer and surgeries, menopause, and/or traumatic events such as rape
- Ongoing pain during intercourse with no known cause
- Difficulty using tampons or having a pelvic exam with your gynecologist
- Avoidance of sex because of pain/failure, etc.
Vaginismus Diagnosis and Treatment
Currently there is no actual test which will diagnose vaginismus however the disorder is most commonly diagnosed through evaluation of the patients history and description, GYN exam and ensuring that there are not other medical problems causing the symptoms. Medical practitioners who are useful in determining if the presence of vaginismus exists include gynecologists, pelvic floor specialists, sex therapists, psychologists and/or counselors.
Despite being difficult to diagnose, vaginismus is a highly treatable condition and includes the use of certain modalities such as pelvic floor control exercises, insertion/dilation training, pain elimination techniques, transition steps and exercises to address existing emotional components to the disorder.
If you think you suffer from vaginismus, discuss your symptoms with your healthcare provider.
Sources: Vaginismus.com Accessed April 20, 2015