What is Vaginismus? When Sex Brings More Pain Than Pleasure.

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When having sex hurts more than bringing you pleasure, the vagina needs your full attention. Vaginismus is a condition when the muscles of a woman’s vagina squeeze or contract when something is entering it. When a woman wears a tampon or is having sex, vaginismus can lead to mild to severe pain. This not only has a physical manifestation for women but also can affect them psychologically.

As we know vagina is a muscular canal that is lined with mucus membranes and nerves. It connects the uterus and cervix to the outside of the body. This connection allows for menstruation, intercourse, and childbirth. Many people must be aware of what a vagina is but sexual health problems related to the vagina like vaginismus are still under the rug talks. So,  let us unveil what exactly vaginismus is.

What is Vaginismus?

According to a study published in the International Journal of Medical Reviews, vaginismus is a sexual disorder that affects approximately 7% of women worldwide. It is basically the involuntary or uncontrolled spasm of our pelvic muscles. The condition often makes it difficult for women to allow entry of the penis into the vagina. It adds to fear which further make a woman contract her body, thus making the pain worse.

Dr. Sheetal Agarwal, Senior Consultant OBS & Gynaecologist at Apollo Spectra Hospital Delhi told SheThePeople, “vaginismus is when the body has no anatomical disorder, no physical disorder in her genital parts but she is still unable to perform the sexual act.”

Talking about the causes, she says, “According to my experience, the hindrance is perhaps all in her mind. She may enjoy the foreplay but the moment penetration takes place, her vaginal muscles contract and she does not let her partner penetrate completely. So that is vaginismus. It is in most cases very much psychological.”

Her experience resonates with a recent study that used electromyography of pelvic floor muscles and assessment of pudendal nerve activity in women undergo vaginismus discover neurophysiological abnormalities that suggest changes in the central nervous system are present in this condition.

Problems That Creep In Due To Vaginismus

The major problem due to vaginismus is unconsummated marriages. Apart from that, vaginismus has a significant psychological impact. Due to the inability of the female partner to continue with sexual intercourse, “the drift takes place in the relationship. The husband starts going out as he also has his urges and he too has to satisfy his sexual needs,” says Dr. Sheetal. Moreover, females develop various psychological problems like anxiety disorders, depression, etc. In addition to that, vaginismus makes sexual intercourse difficult or impossible, even it makes gynaecological examination and insertion of tampon painful.

According to clinical reports, females who have vaginismus have a negative perspective towards having sex, mainly out of fear and discomfort. This may also lead some women to be ashamed of their sexual problem, leading them to ignore it and hide it from husband, partner, families etc.

Types Of Vaginismus

Primary Vaginismus

Primary vaginismus is a condition in which vaginal penetration has never happened due to the women’s vaginal muscle reflexes and this is the most common reason for unconsummated marriages.

Secondary Vaginismus

Women with secondary vaginismus initially had normal sexual relations, but due to some kind of infection or sexual assault which develops a fear from sexual intercourse, women develop involuntary spasm of the pelvic muscles.

Treatment

Dr. Sheetal suggests “supportive treatment” for vaginismus. She told SheThePeople, “The initial treatment is psychological counselling. We counsel both the partners and we tell the male partners to go slow. We tell them to indulge in a lot of foreplay so that the secretion takes place. Normally, the secretion is so less that the act of penetration becomes painful.” The other thing she suggests is using “a lot of lubricant.”

For patients who still find sexual intercourse or insertion of tampons difficult, Dr. Sheetal with her experience of over 20 years says, “We call them to OPD, then gradually insert one finger if she is comfortable with that and then two fingers, actually we make her comfortable with the act of insertion. Over 10-15 days we do psychological counselling of the patient and of course, we do vaginal dilation so that she allows her partner to penetrate.” She adds, “Mostly, after one or two penetrations the fear drifts away.”

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