Vaginismus is one of those conditions that sounds so obscure and ‘out there’, yet the odds are that you or someone you know has been affected by it.
Vaginismus is what happens when there are involuntary muscular contractions in the vaginal wall, making penetration very difficult or even impossible. In addition to difficulty with penetration from a penis, many women with vaginismus struggle with inserting tampons, a finger, of even having a speculum exam at the gynecologist. There are varying statistics on how common vaginismus is; anecdotally, I have found that women who suffer from it often avoid going for medical exams altogether, which may skew the statistics. Nevertheless, vaginismus can have devastating effects on a relationship, especially when it goes untreated over an extended period of time.
There are medical interventions that helpful for treating vaginismus. For some women, it is optimal to have treatment in conjunction with psychotherapy, thereby ensuring that that the relationship and psychological effects of the condition are being addressed. Also, it can be helpful to get support in having a vibrant sexual activity even though vaginismus is preventing intercourse from happening smoothly.
When I work with a woman and her partner dealing with vaginismus, we tailor treatment based on their specific needs. I provide referrals for appropriate professionals to address the physical component and we work in a collaborative way. And once medical treatment for vaginismus is complete and intercourse is pain-free, I support couples in moving past the painful chapter and shift into a more positive place in their sexual relationship.
Vaginismus is more than just a condition where sexual intercourse is difficult. It’s a condition that can threaten a woman’s relationship with her body and her confidence in its ability to show up the way she’d like, and it can lead to secondary effects on the partner as well. Getting help for vaginismus can feel scary but fortunately, there is effective treatment today and people can move on to happier and healthier sex lives.