Vaginismus also known as sexual pain disorder, involves involuntary contractions of the pelvic muscles that surround the outer third of the vaginal barrel. Vaginismus occurs reflexively during attempts at vaginal penetration, making entry by the penis or other objects painful or impossible. The muscle contractions are usually accompanied by fear of penetration. Some women have difficulties with any form of penetration by any object, including a finger, tampon, or a physician’s speculum. The woman with vaginismus usually does not even have any awareness that the muscle response is causing the tightness or penetration problem.
In some cases vaginismus tightness may begin to cause burning, pain, or stinging during intercourse. In other cases, penetration may be difficult or completely impossible. Vaginismus is the main cause of unconsummated relationships. The tightness can be so restrictive that the opening to the vagina is ‘closed off’ altogether and the man is unable to insert his penis. The pain of vaginismus ends when the sexual attempt stops, and usually intercourse must be halted due to pain or discomfort.
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Types of vaginismus
When a woman has never at any time been able to have pain-free intercourse due to this muscle spasm. Some women with primary vaginismus are unable to wear tampons and/or complete pelvic exams. Many couples are unable to consummate their relationship due to primary vaginismus.
Can develop later in life, even after many years of pleasurable intercourse. This type of condition, is usually precipitated by a medical condition, traumatic event, childbirth, surgery, or life-change (menopause).
Sexual pain can affect women in all stages of life; even women who have had years of comfortable sex. While temporarily experiencing discomfort during sexual intercourse is not unusual, ongoing problems should be diagnosed and treated.
Examples of Vaginismus
In the vaginismus condition, as the man approaches the woman, her PC muscle group (darkly shaded) involuntarily tightens the vaginal entrance making intercourse painfully impossible or penetration may be successful but may result in burning, discomfort, and pain.
Common symptoms of vaginismus
- Burning or stinging with tightness during sex
- Difficult or impossible penetration, entry pain, uncomfortable insertion of penis
- Unconsummated marriage
- Ongoing sexual discomfort or pain following childbirth, yeast/urinary infections, STDs, IC, hysterectomy, cancer and surgeries, rape, menopause, or other issues
- Ongoing sexual pain of unknown origin, with no apparent cause
- Difficulty inserting tampons or undergoing a pelvic/gynecological exam
- Spasms in other body muscle groups (legs, lower back, etc.) and/or halted breathing during attempts at intercourse
- Avoidance of sex due to pain and/or failure
Vaginismus is treatable
Vaginismus is highly treatable and a full recovery from vaginismus is the normal outcome of treatment. Successful vaginismus treatment does not require drugs, surgery, hypnosis, or any other complex invasive technique. Following a straight-forward program, individualised for the couple or female, pain-free and pleasurable intercourse is attainable for most couples.