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Vaginismus is described as involuntary contraction of the muscles of the vagina that causes spasm during penetration. It‘s considerably uncomfortable for a woman because much pain is associated, which further interferes with sex life, inserting tampons or while undergoing a pelvic exam.

There are two types of vaginismus:

Primary: The first pain felt during insertion is the primary stage. Intercourse becomes impossible as the vaginal opening tends to close, accompanied by tearing pain in inside the vagina

Secondary: In this case, vaginismus develops at an advanced stage after the primary condition has been cured completely. It can also occur post childbirth, menopause or after a surgery.

Symptoms of Vaginismus

The symptoms may not be generalized as it depends on the toleration power of a woman and the way she and her spouse deal with the situation. Some common symptoms are:

  • Unusual tightness in the vagina during intercourse, foreplay, insertion of tampons and gynaecological exam
  • Penetration becomes impossible
  • Tearing and stinging pain in the vagina
  • Decrease in orgasms

Due to the aforementioned symptoms, may women start dreading intercourse as they are scared of the pain. This leads to lack of sexual interest and avoidance of penetrative sex.

Causes of Vaginismus

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Several reasons are associated with arousal of this kind of pain in the vagina which includes:

  • Presence of sensitive nerves in the vaginal opening- vestibulodynia
  • Vaginal infections like STDs and STIs
  • Surgical or accidental cuts in the vagina
  • Sexual abuse in the past and fear of sex
  • Lack of libido due to stress, side effects of medicines, menopause etc
  • Medical history of sexual problems/surgery in genital area
  • Lack of proper knowledge about sexual intercourse

Diagnosis of Vaginismus

The pain is unbearable and definitely needs to be treated by a gynaecologist.

During your appointment, your doctor will ask you several questions about the symptoms you are experiencing. He/she will check if you had any history of sexual trauma, ask questions about your sexual life and would evaluate the pain.

Following this, a pelvic exam might be performed to have a closer look at the vagina for diagnosing the exact cause.

Treatment for Vaginismus

Vaginismus is completely treatable. Once your doctor had figured out the reason, several exercises and therapies will be suggested to improve the condition of the vaginal muscles. The treatment options are:

  • Counselling- It’s absolutely needed for those who lack proper sexual knowledge and have psychological fear of sex. Cognitive behavioural therapy is one of those therapies that help to overcome the condition.
  • Exercises- Kegel exercises improve contraction and relaxation of pelvic muscles and enable one to have voluntary control of the vaginal muscles.
  • Instruments- Vaginal dilators and vaginal trainers considerably help to get rid of the pain during intercourse. Your doctor will let you know the correct ways to handle the instruments

Surgery and drugs are usually not opted for treating vaginismus until and unless it is a consequence of endometriosis or any other gynecological problems. In rare circumstances, enlargement of the vagina may be performed to ease penetration.

Dealing with vaginismus requires your partner’s support also. You may need to avoid sexual intercourse for time being till the condition improves. However, do not worry! Follow your doctor’s advice for a speedy recovery.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 11, 2015