The Best Way to Deal with Vaginismus (Painful sex)

Dealing with Vaginismus

When talking or reading about sex, we get the idea that it is always a fun and playful experience. And, yes, it should be like that. But, for many women, masturbation with penetrative sex toys and vaginal intercourse can be painful.


In fact, one study showed that more than 20% of women in Australia feel pain during sex. And one of the main reasons why this happens is vaginismus. Vaginismus is a common condition that affects 1–7% of women around the globe, as well as their partners and relationships.


But although it affects so many women, we rarely talk about it. For this reason, women feel alone and even ashamed to discuss the pain they feel with their doctors and partners. However, it doesn't have to be like that. Vaginismus is easy to diagnose and treat. You only need to seek help.


What Is Vaginismus?


Vaginismus is when muscles around the vagina tense involuntarily. It can happen to women at the start of sex, when they try to put a tampon in, or during pelvic exams. Every penetration — either with a finger, tampon, sex toys, or penis — feels too painful.


Moreover, if you suffer from this condition, you can feel anxiety and fear as well. Many women with vaginismus don't talk about it and avoid intimacy because they are afraid of pain. This fact makes vaginismus one of the main female causes of sexless marriages.



Types of Vaginismus


Some women feel pain and difficulties right from the start. In puberty, when they first tried to use a tampon, or the first time they had sex, the problem was already there. Every further attempt just made things worse. In such a case, we are probably talking about primary vaginismus.


On the other hand, there's secondary vaginismus. We can find it in women who did not have any problems for years before the condition suddenly appeared. In those cases, vaginismus can be total or partial. Partial means that sometimes penetration is possible, but other times it's painful, depending on the situation and context.


Also, vaginismus can be mild, moderate, or severe. Women describe this pain as burning, cramping, or a tight feeling.



What Causes This Condition?


Doctors can't really find the cause of vaginismus. In fact, there isn't always a reason. But, many doctors claim that it has psychological roots as well as physical. Still, we will list a couple of possible causes of vaginismus so that you can understand what you are dealing with.


The most common causes of primary vaginismus are:


  • Fear and anxiety: maybe you fear the pain, pregnancy, STIs, or have anxiety disorders in general
  • Sometimes the issue lies in your beliefs about sex and sexuality
  • Having sex when you are not really up for it
  • Past physical, sexual, emotional trauma or abuse
  • Some women have different expectations about sex and then feel disappointed
  • Emotional reasons


Secondary vaginismus can also have the same causes as the primary. But it can also occur because of:


  • Problems among partners which lead to low libido
  • Infections and skin problems
  • Gynecological problems
  • Pregnancy or delivery-related issues like vaginal tear
  • Past painful intercourse


A doctor will ask you about your medical and sexual history and examine you to confirm vaginismus.



Possible Treatments for Vaginismus


Most women with vaginismus choose to live with it and never seek help. However, that is a shame, because research has confirmed that 80% of women get better with treatment.


The treatment focuses on ways to relax muscles and finding the root cause of the problem. Moreover, the doctor will tell you how you can treat the fear and anxiety that follow vaginismus. So, possible treatments include:


  • Topical therapy — includes applying creams that can help with pain
  • Pelvic floor physical therapy — a therapist can teach you how to relax pelvic floor muscles
  • Vaginal dilator therapy — dilators are devices that look like a tube and come in various sizes; their purpose is to gradually stretch your vagina until you become more comfortable with and less sensitive to penetration
  • Counseling — counseling can help you understand how your thoughts and mind affect your emotions and behaviors
  • Sex therapy — a sex therapist can help you and your partner find pleasure in your sexual relationship; it involves education on pleasure, arousal, and anatomy, as well as relaxation techniques





Sex problems can take a toll on your relationship. So, getting treatment can mean a world of difference to you and your partner.


In the end, the key is to remember that feeling pain and anxiety during sex is nothing to be ashamed of. So, talk to your partner and doctor about it. That way, you will get the compassion and treatment you need. Many people recover from vaginismus and can freely enjoy sex toys and intercourse.


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