28 Oct The low-down on vaginismus
If you experience pain or extreme discomfort when trying to insert a tampon or during penetrative sex you may have vaginismus. It’s a condition that causes the muscles of the vagina to involuntarily contract when penetration tries to take place.
Vaginismus doesn’t affect your ability to get aroused or your sex drive. Many people who suffer from vaginismus have the desire to have sex and be intimate, but when it comes to the act of penetration their vaginal muscles go into an almost fight or flight mode making penetration almost impossible. Other symptoms include a burning or stinging sensation during penetrative sex and heavy discomfort during a vaginal exam.
There’s a lot of stigma and shame surrounding vaginismus as people with vaginas often feel ashamed, alone and like failures. It can also negatively impact their mental health and relationships. But vaginismus is quite common as more people are being open about their experiences, and as a result more resources are becoming available.
A few common causes of vaginismus include a bad first sexual experience, sexual assault or rape, a belief that sex is shameful, a painful condition like thrush, pain from normal or very difficult vaginal child birth and heightened anxiety around sex or being intimate.
If you can relate to any of the above symptoms or causes there are many successful treatment options available for you. Relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises and mindfulness help relax the vaginal muscles, psychosexual therapy helps you understand and change your feelings about your body and sex, as well as vaginal trainers which are smooth tampon-shaped objects that come in various sizes to help you get familiar with inserting something into your vagina.
We encourage you to consult with a medical professional before you try any of these treatment options so they can rule out if there’s any other underlying issues or conditions that could be contributing to the involuntary contraction of the vaginal muscles.
As more people are coming out about their experience with vaginismus, online resources and social media support groups and pages are increasing.
Here are a few resources to help you: