Vaginismus affects about 0.5% of all women. It’s a condition wherein the muscles around the vaginal opening involuntarily contract, making any sort of penetration incredibly painful.
Those suffering from vaginismus can have difficulties establishing sexual relationships. They may feel dysfunctional or like they cannot provide enough for their partner. Being accepting and supportive of these individuals can have a significant positive effect, seeing as vaginismus plays such a psychological role.
If you are living with vaginismus, penetration causes considerable pain, be it during sex sex, inserting a tampon or menstrual cup, or masturbating using your fingers or a sex toy.
Vaginismus is classified as primary if the woman suffering from it has always had the condition, and secondary if penetrative sex was once comfortably possible, but no longer is. It should be noted that the vaginismus has a wide range of manifestations, and thus the primary and secondary classifications can be somewhat restrictive, however the symptoms can indicate other afflictions. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort, visit your doctor.
Vexing though it might be, vaginismus is not necessarily a death sentence for one’s sexuality. Problems arise when there are unfulfilled or unreciprocated expectations, or when the condition hasn’t been disclosed out of insecurity or fear. Couples may work around the issue by communicating and enjoying sexual stimulation that doesn’t include penetration, e.g. oral sex.
Physical symptoms of vaginismus include burning, stinging, and a sensation of tightness during sex; ongoing sexual pain with no apparent cause; ongoing sexual discomfort or pain following childbirth, yeast/urinary infections, STDs, rape, menopause, or other issues; muscle spasms and halted breathing.
Psychological symptoms include shame, insecurity, fearing and/or avoiding sex, loss of sexual interest, feeling compelled to lie to one’s partner about sex, feeling uncomfortable around topics concerning penetration of any kind.
Facing an ailment can be frightening. Admitting to oneself that it exists means admitting that there may be consequences, so some people suffer for years without attempting to find out what is wrong. Dyspareunia is more likely to go untreated than other ailments because it’s so personal.
Relationships suffer from untreated vaginismus, especially if it’s being kept secret. Mistrust may fester, conclusions may be drawn about the lack of sex. Gritting one’s teeth and forcing penetration in spite of the pain is likely to result in injury. Vaginismus is not a problem that can be willfully ignored, and treatment takes time and patience.
The process of treating vaginismus can be emotionally taxing for someone who has had negative experiences in connection to the condition. Trauma can create psychological barriers that make it difficult to relax when faced with triggering conditions.
Treatment generally involves a combination of:
If treatment is careful and consistent, a full (and permanent) recovery is likely, no matter if the pain has persisted for months, years, or decades.
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