Vaginismus: Causes, symptoms and treatment

Vaginismus: Causes, symptoms and treatment

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  • 1 Definition of vaginismus
  • 2 What you should know about vaginismus
  • 3 Classification of types of vaginismus
  • 4 The symptoms of vaginismus
  • 5 The causes of vaginismus
  • 6 Diagnosis of vaginismus
  • 7 Treatment of vaginismus

Definition of vaginismus

Vaginismus is a female sexual dysfunction whereby the woman experiences involuntary contractions of the pelvic floor muscles surrounding the vagina, specifically in the pubococcygeal muscle group, this leads to a generalized muscle spasm that contracts and closes the entrance into the vagina.

Due to this spontaneous contraction, women who suffer from it may not be able to introduce tampons, undergo gynecological exams or have sex with penetration, as they find it painful.

Fortunately, in most cases the cause of vaginismus has a psychological origin and is treatable.

What you should know about vaginismus

Here are some key points about vaginismus.

  • There are many different forms of vaginismus; symptoms vary from person to person
  • The pain caused by vaginismus can vary from mild to severe and cause different sensations.
  • Vaginismus can be caused by emotional factors, medical factors or a combination of both.
  • Vaginismus is the main cause of unmarried marriages
  • This dysfunction can be treated with a combination of physical and emotional exercises
  • Vaginismus is usually curable

Classification of types of vaginismus

There are different types of vaginismus that can affect women at any age.

  • Primary vaginismus: in this case the pain has always been present and the woman has not managed to have sex with penetration or not at least without pain.
  • Secondary vaginismus: It occurs when a woman has been able to have normal sexual function and, for some reason, has subsequently ceased power.
  • Situational vaginismus: is present only in certain situations; for example, with sex, but not during gynecological exams or insertion of a tampon.

Primary vaginismus women often experience it during their first attempt at intercourse; For this reason the male partner is not able to insert his penis into the vagina. This classification of vaginismus not only affects sexual intercourse, but it can also affect a woman's ability to use tampons and undergo gynecological exams.

In addition to pain, women may also experience generalized muscle spasms and temporarily stop breathing, symptoms that disappear when the attempt to enter the vagina stops.

Secondary vaginismus It can be experienced at any stage of life and can affect women who have never experienced symptoms of vaginismus before. Often, this type of vaginismus is caused by a specific event; an infection, menopause, a traumatic event, the development of a medical condition, relationship problems, surgery or childbirth, for example.

Unfortunately, even after the underlying medical condition is corrected, the pain may continue due to the conditioned response of the body that results in the symptoms of vaginismus.

The symptoms of vaginismus

The symptoms of vaginismus vary by woman and may include:

  • Painful sex (dyspareunia), described as burning, itching or feeling of oppression that causes pain
  • Penetration is difficult or impossible
  • Long-term sexual pain with or without a known cause
  • Pain during insertion of a tampon
  • Pain during the gynecological exam
  • Generalized muscle spasm or interruption of breathing during attempted intercourse.

Vaginismus does not prevent a woman from sexually exciting. However, the symptoms can lead her to feel very anxious during sexual intercourse, which is why they usually avoid sex and vaginal penetration.

The causes of vaginismus

The causes of vaginismus are varied, it can be caused by factors of physical stress, emotional stress or a combination of both.

Emotional triggers of vaginismus

  • Fear of pain or pregnancy
  • Anxiety for not achieving intercourse and feelings of guilt
  • Problems with the sexual partner: an abusive partner, feelings of vulnerability
  • Traumatic events in life: rape, history of abuse
  • Bad experiences during childhood

Physical triggers of vaginismus

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Diseases such as cancer or multiple sclerosis
  • Birth
  • Menopause
  • Pelvic surgery
  • Inappropriate previous games
  • The decrease in vaginal lubrication
  • Side effects of the medication.

Many people, whether male or female, are affected by some type of sexual dysfunction; It is not something that is the fault of the person, nor is it something to be ashamed of. In most cases and with the help of specialists, sexual dysfunction can be resolved successfully.

Diagnosis of vaginismus

The diagnosis of vaginismus is sometimes a complicated process and can include one or more specialists, including gynecologists, physiotherapists, sex therapists, psychologists and counselors. During the physical evaluation, a medical history and a pelvic exam will be performed.

Ensuring possible underlying causes of pain is of vital importance in the diagnosis process of vaginismus, since it is usually diagnosed through the elimination process.

Vaginismus treatment

Vaginismus can be treated successfully with the help of specialists in sexual therapy.

Surgery does not cure vaginismus and may even make the condition worse. In addition, not treating the emotional triggers can worsen the condition, leading to longer duration and greater intensity with the contraction of the muscle involved.

Treatment for vaginismus usually includes a combination of:

  • Pelvic floor control exercises: including muscle contraction and relaxation activities (Kegel exercises) to improve control of the pelvic floor muscles.
  • Insertion and dilatation training: Supervised exercises using plastic dilators can help make the patient less sensitive to penetration.
  • Education and advice: The information must be provided by experienced therapists, to help patients understand their pain and the processes that their body is going through.
  • Emotional Support: allows women to identify, express and resolve emotional factors that may be contributing to their vaginismus.

The time it takes to solve vaginismus successfully will vary depending on each person. The good news is that vaginismus is curable in 95% of cases.