Vaginismus. Never heard of it? You’re not alone!
Loads of people haven’t heard of this condition either, yet vaginismus can affect many people with vaginas, without them knowing what it is exactly. This secrecy is quite amazing since it affects 5 to 17% of women – despite these statistics being tricky as well, since the whole topic is quite hush-hush, even amongst people living with it!
Vaginismus – also known as the genito pelvic pain penetration disorder (GPPPD), is the involuntary tightening of the pelvic floor muscles, making penetration painfully uncomfortable or even impossible.
Who can suffer from Vaginismus?
It can be triggered in young and older women alike.
- In the UK, 0.17% of females between 15 & 64 years of age have vaginismus. Younger women between the ages of 15 and 24 are more likely to experience it, due to the uncertainties when sexuality is first explored!
- People with no sexual experience as well as those with years of sexual intercourse can experience vaginismus.
So, what are the symptoms of Vaginismus?
Cases can vary from mild to severe. The tightness may bring about –
- difficulty inserting tampons or undergoing gynae examinations
- burning and stinging with tightness during sex
- difficult or impossible penile penetration
- if penetration is successful, the ongoing tightness and discomfort interrupts arousal
- spasms in other body muscle groups may occur
- discomfort only during penetration, and diminishes during thrusting
Vaginismus – both primary & secondary is purely physiologically based. When a person experiences vaginismus, the mind and body have developed an automotive response against penetration as it has learnt to anticipate pain. This in turn causes the muscles to flinch, to protect against the intercourse pain.
What do I tell my partner?
Remember, vaginismus is involuntary NOT intentional babe! Sure, the mystery of the problem is very frustrating and distressing for the individual, as well as their partners. Any individual with a vagina can be stricken by vaginismus, yet people usually feel intense shame from being unable to have intercourse, thus keeping their pain private.
Help! Is Vaginismus treatable?
Talking your symptoms over with a health care provider can be useful as they can help you determine if you have vaginismus and offer advice.
No – it does not involve drugs, surgery, invasive treatment, needles, hypnosis or such!
Vaginismus treatments mainly focus on reducing the reaction of your muscles which causes the tensing up. The treatments also include sex therapy, thus addressing anxiety and fears that associate with vaginismus.
- Sex therapy – EDUCATION 👏🏻 IS 👏🏻 KEY👏🏻 ! Learning about your anatomy helps in understanding the muscles involved. Counselling may be alone, or involve your partner. This involves relaxation techniques which aids comfort with intercourse.
- Topical Therapy – topical anaesthetic creams will help alleviate the pain associated with the condition.
- Pelvic floor therapy – in plan with a physical therapist, pelvic floor exercises to relax your muscles will help.
- Vaginal dilator therapy – vaginal dilators are a common therapy supervised by professionals. The cone-shaped dilators are placed in the vagina. They progressively get bigger, as their primary purpose is to stretch the vaginal walls. why not have your partner insert the dilators, to increase intimacy and understanding? Lube is key to assist insertion.
Why the secrecy though?
Don’t suffer in silence! Unfortunately, there is general embarrassment that comes which accompanies any sexual practice disorder. A lot of people assume it’s an anatomical problem. Individuals who may have never touched themselves, studied their anatomy or have regarded this as ‘dirty’ assume that they are alone or untreatable!
But you are not alone – yep more statistics coming your way hon!
47% of vaginismus sufferers are either single or dating
53% of women with vaginismus are married
53% are between 26 and 35 years of age
18% of vaginismus complaints come from women under 25 years old
26% of women with vaginismus are between 36 to 50 years old (and most did not seek help for a long time – sometimes due to late marriage or marital issues due to the condition)
9% of vaginismus sufferers are 51 years of age or older
As you can see, vaginismus is affecting a lot of women around the world. If you are suffering from it, know that treatment is available and often successful!