It’s not an uncommon problem, sadly, to experience painful sex. Vaginismus can affect every aspect of a female bodied person’s life, from dating to intimacy and their self-esteem. Vaginismus is when your vaginal muscles tighten up spontaneously, without your intention. Vaginismus can feel anywhere from mild discomfort, burning with tightening, to severe tightness. This makes penetrative sex, or even placing a tampon, painful or almost impossible. If something is forced inside it will cause severe pain.
This is when a sufferer has had pain every time something entered their vagina, including penetrative sex, or when they’ve never been able to insert anything into their vagina.
This is when a sufferer has experienced penetration without pain before, but then it became difficult or impossible. Something almost always triggers this. It could be something like trauma, relationship difficulties, infection, medical conditions.
Vaginismus is always present, occurring with all types of penetration.
This occurs only in certain situations. It may happen during penetrative sex for example, but not during gynaecological exams or tampon insertion.
Suffering from vaginismus can be a very overwhelming experience, and it’s important to treat both the emotional and physical factors. A psychosexual and relationship therapist can help you explore the underlying reasons, understand what the function of the dysfunction is and connect with your body. The body remembers what the mind forgets, and sometimes vaginismus is a way of your body saying “no”. This is because a past trauma may have been triggered, or you may not be very connected with your feelings and thoughts in a particular situation, and your body has its own ways of communicating to you that something is not quite right. A psychosexual and relationship therapist will usually give you some homework that involves physical exercises to practice. If you are in a relationship, it can be beneficial to have psychosexual couples therapy, so you can explore this together with your partner. Working with a pelvic floor physiotherapist can help you learn how to relax your pelvic floor muscles.
The road to recovery is a very unique process for each sufferer. The duration of treatment varies from sufferer to sufferer. There is no quick fix for vaginismus and whilst that can be frustrating, please remember that you are not alone. There are a lot of websites providing useful information as well as inspiring forums, blogs and social media accounts from specialist professionals to people experiencing and dealing with vaginismus in their own way.
Written by Eva Koumpli