What Is Vaginismus? Know More About The Gynecological Condition That Causes Intense Pain During Intercourse

What Is Vaginismus? Know More About The Gynecological Condition That Causes Intense Pain During Intercourse

Though painful and it may seem impossible to have intercourse because you can't control it, there are treatments for this sexual dysfunction.

Source: Illustration

Is intercourse a matter of fear and pain for you? Do you feel your vaginal muscles clench up during intercourse or when trying to insert a tampon or even during a check-up with the gynecologist? Has being in a long term relationship or marriage changed none of those fears for you? If you would put a tick in front of all those questions there is a chance that you have a sexual dysfunction called vaginismus.

What is vaginismus?

Vaginismus is the involuntary contraction of muscles around the opening of the vagina when the woman has no abnormalities in the genital organs. The tightness makes penetration painful. Sometimes women can't use tampons or get gynecological checkups. A patient that has vaginismus can't control or stop the contractions. It can also have additional symptoms like fear of vaginal penetration and decreased physical intimacy desire related to penetration, according to Healthline. But sometimes, the fear is limited to only intercourse.

Those with the dysfunction feel a burning pain or stinging sensation when anything is inserted into the vagina. However, it doesn't bar them from enjoying all other kinds of sexual activity. They could still enjoy oral stimulation or masturbation, anything that doesn't involve penetration.


Can you still give birth?

There have been instances where married women with vaginismus have given birth to children despite being unable to have penetrative intercourse. A 30-year-old woman who was a virgin recently gave birth to a child through IVF since she had vaginismus, according to DailyMail. She hopes that sex wouldn't be a problem now that she has given birth. The first time she realised she had vaginismus was at the age of 22 when she tried to use a tampon and in fear her hands started shaking.

For another couple, it took six years of marriage to consummate their wedding. For 28-year-old Emily, it was like "a knife was being shoved inside" her. “It took us almost six years to consummate our marriage,” Emily told The Sun. “We tried everything from a vibrator to stretching exercises, but nothing worked. I felt ashamed, like I wasn’t working properly," she added.

What causes this medical condition?

The medical condition affects up to 1% of women and can be caused by multiple factors. From traumatic life events to fear of pregnancy or medication side-effects to menopause, the reasons could be physical or emotional. Some emotional triggers are fear, for example, of pain or pregnancy, anxiety, relationship problems, having an abusive partner, history of rape, childhood experiences, such as the portrayal of intimacy while growing up or exposure to sexual images, according to Medical News Today. Physical triggers include infection, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI) or yeast infection, cancer or lichen sclerosis, childbirth, menopause, pelvic surgery, inadequate foreplay, insufficient vaginal lubrication, and medication side effects.

What are the kinds of vaginismus?

It can be categorized into primary and secondary. In the first case, vaginal penetration has never been achieved while in the second it was once achieved but it is not possible anymore due to a number of reasons like gynecologic surgery, trauma, or radiation.

Some women experience it post-menopause, which is when estrogen levels drop. Lack of vaginal lubrication and elasticity can make penetration painful and stressful and for some people, it becomes a complete no-no.

Treatment for vaginismus

For treatment of the condition, the doctor asks about childhood and sexual history to know if you have faced any abuse. For diagnosis and treatment, a pelvic exam is necessary to make sure that there are no abnormalities, according to NHS. However, many women with this medical condition find it difficult to get a pelvic exam as well. In that case, a doctor goes about the process very gently and sometimes might ask the person to use the medical instruments themselves but under their guidance. The doctor may explain each step that they are taking or you could ask them to do that for your ease.

Once the diagnosis is done, treatment involves exercises to familiarise with penetration and sex therapy to manage feelings during intercourse. Sex therapy and counseling might be a few of the steps to take to cure yourself. The doctor could also recommend using a vaginal dilator, a cone-shaped instrument that can be inserted to increase familiarisation with the process.