Vaginismus is a condition characterized by painful cramping and contracting of the muscles surrounding the vagina. Sufferers experience an involuntary spasm and tightening of the pelvic floor preceding insertion either during sexual intercourse or the use of a tampon. In severe cases, cysts may develop. Stinging and pain during sex may also occur. The exact number of women who suffer from this condition is not well known as many cases go undiagnosed, but it’s estimated vaginismus cases range from 5% to 47%.
Causes of Vaginismus
Vaginismus can occur in women of all ages. The causes of Vaginismus are understood to be psychological. However, the nature of how they are experienced is physical. Most causes of Vaginismus are linked to the mental health and cognitive experience of the woman with present symptoms. They can be identified as:
- Fear of sex
- History of sexual abuse
- Sexual trauma
- Negative feelings about sex
A gynecologist can diagnose vaginismus. They will survey the patient on symptoms, and a physical exam is often conducted. The patient is checked for other conditions and infections.
Problems with diagnosis often involve false attribution to the partner involved or mistaking of another circumstance that’s unrelated to the condition.
Some red flags that might indicate a possible oversight of this condition are:
- Painful examination
- Painful intercourse
- Fear of getting evaluated
Treatment of Vaginismus
It can be treated with a combination of mental and physical therapy. Kegel exercises are used to help soothe the tension in the muscles that tend to occur, and a vaginal dilator may be used to allow the training of insertion at the sufferer’s ease. Pelvic floor therapy, a form of biofeedback, and vaginal muscular exercise are common as well.
Dilating devices may be used with creams for comfort. All this is done in tandem with mental health counseling to treat any underlying mental health struggles concerning sexual identity.
Some less clinical addresses to the condition are meditation and breathwork. Meditation, as a coping mechanism for anxiety, can similarly benefit those who experience the psychological aspect of Vaginismus. It may be useful in bringing mindfulness and healing to the individual suffering.
If you think you’ve experienced symptoms consistent with Vaginismus, consider consulting with your physician right away.