Vaginismus: A Woman’s Pain
What is Vaginismus?
Vaginismus is a reflex condition wherein a vagina cannot accommodate a full penetration. This condition might happen during intercourse wherein the vagina would involuntary contract its pelvic muscles. This contraction begins with vaginal pain or discomfort that penetration becomes difficult and at times, impossible to do causing any sexual attempts to be halted. Penetration would be like “hitting a brick wall”.
Vaginismus is treated as a sexual dysfunction encountered all over the world. According to CETAD, vaginismus rate is 10% in Turkey alone. Meaning that in every 10 women, 1 cannot have full intercourse due to painful or impossible penetration.
Occurrence of vaginismus in Sweden and Morocco are 6%. These two countries have a totally different culture. The reported incidence on British elderly women of having a painful intercourse caused by psychological or medical condition is 2%. However, this could get up to 18 to 20% according to Australian and British studies.
There were 12% to 17% rates of vaginismus occurring in sex therapy program according to a study in 1990 by Spector and Carey and a survey in 1994 reported a 10% to 15% incident of women feeling pain during intercourse.
Recent studies estimated vaginimus prevalence rate or 5% to 47% having sex therapy across cultures. This makes vaginimus not just a common occurrence but a condition that affects many women today.
What are the Symptoms of Vaginismus?
According to HKS, vaginismus symptoms in women are:
- Not being able to perform full penetration intercourse
- Fear from having intercourse with a partner
- Not being able to insert tampons,pads or fingers into the vagina
- Only partial penetration during intercourse
- Fear from gynecological examinations
- An ultrasound instrument cannot be inserted into the vagina
What Causes Vaginismus?
Almost 50% of women in a sex therapy program are found to have vaginismus and the main question is what caused this condition in the first place?
There are several types of vaginismus. The first one is primary vaginismus wherein a woman has never experienced a painless intercourse because of muscle spasm in her vagina. Women with this type of vaginismus can’t use tampons and fear pelvic exams.
The main factors that contribute to primary vaginismus may include the following:
- Vulvar Vestibulitis is a chronic vaginal pain condition wherein there is an inflammation of the tissues around the vaginal entrance accompanied by stinging, irritation and burning. This condition is also identical to vaginitis only that there is no pain in vaginitis until an attempted penetration.
- Infections in the urinary tract or yeast infections in the vagina such as vaginitis.
- Vulvodynia, an inflammation in the vulvar, makes some sufferer unable to have intercourse due to pain.
- Abused sexually or physically, witnessing abuse to other people, raped or experienced an attempted rape and attempted sexual abuse.
- Conflict or violence in the home as a kid.
- The fear of penetration pain like the pain in first time intercourse due to the breaking of the hymen.
- Told about inappropriate or violent sexual stories.
- Physical trauma through invasive incident.
- Anxiety and stress.
Vaginismus can develop even while experiencing pleasurable intercourse. This type of vaginismus is called secondary vaginismus and is usually caused by a medical condition, menopause or traumatic events like childbirth complications and surgery.
Degrees of Vaginismus
There are degrees of vaginimus in a woman, here are the following:
- The first degree is a spasm in the pelvic floor that can be relieved with some reassurance.
- The second degree is the spasm did not stop even after being reassured.
- The third degree is the elevation of the buttocks during examination to avoid probing.
- Fourth degree is when the elevation of the buttocks as it retreat and closes up the thighs tightly to avoid examination.
- Fifth degree is when there is an elevation of the buttocks with some severe reactions from the patient such as vomiting, nausea, shaking, palpitations, hyperventilation, sweating, trembling, going unconscious and jumping off the table to attack the doctor.
Ultimately, the cause of vaginismus can be accounted to mental and emotional distress caused by traumatic events in the past. Occasionally, vaginal pains such as Vaginitis, Vulvodynia and Vulvar Vestibulitis can contribute to a woman having vaginismus.
Effects of Vaginismus On Women
A woman with vaginimus suffers emotionally, mentally and physically. Women who cannot have intercourse yet can clearly be aroused (vaginismus does not affect a woman’s arousal) can and will suffer from frustration, grief, inadequacy and embarrassment.
A woman suffering from vaginimus that does not go into treatment right away may fear sexual intercourse in the future and could make the pain much worse.
A woman who suffers from vaginismus would have a cycle that she has to go through while under this condition. They are as follows:
- Anticipation of pain due to anxiety or fear
- Vaginal muscles involuntarily tightens
- Tightness makes penetration impossible or intercourse painful
- Pain intensifies the reflex response
- Sufferer continues to brace more penetration
- Sufferer would develop a lack of desire and avoid more intimacy
What are the Possible Treatments for Vaginismus?
Vaginismus can be treated and some can fully recover from it. The good news is that vaginimus treatment does not require any drugs, hypnosis or surgery. It just requires a treatment program developed to deal with this condition.
Studies show that vaginimus treatment programs have almost 100% rate of success. The solution of treating vaginismus is through identifying its sources, the mind and body, more specifically, learning how to control the muscles in the vagina. Women needs to recognize tension or relaxation of the pelvic.
Treatment approaches are:
- Control exercises for the pelvic floor muscles
- Insertion training
- Elimination of pain techniques
- Exercises for women to identify, resolve and express the emotional factors
- Transitions steps
Treating vaginismus can be completed at the comfort of your own home which due to the nature of the condition is something that could be crucial for many women so being able to get treated at home is a major plus for today’s vaginimus treatment programs.