Vaginismus: Nothing to be ashamed of
It’s estimated that about 5% of Dutch women suffer from this condition. This percentage could be higher but we can’t know for sure, because many women are ashamed of their vaginismus and are afraid to talk about it or go to their GP for help. But there are also women who still enjoy their sex life despite their vaginismus.
When you have vaginismus, the muscles around the vagina squeeze or contract involuntarily whenever you try to put a penis or another thing such as a finger, or vibrator in your vagina. What happens is that the pelvic floor muscles around your vagina are so strong that the vagina contractsin the heat of the moment, making penetration impossible. Vaginismus symptoms can be different for everyone. For example, one person can insert a finger, but a penis is a no-go, while for the other any kind of vaginal penetration is impossible. Vaginismus can be divided into primary and secondary vaginismus. Primary vaginismus means that you’ve never been able to insert a tampon or finger. With secondary vaginismus, your vagina didn’t have this reaction to penetration until later in life.
The cause of vaginismus is different for everyone and it can be very unclear why you actually have it. Maybe your religious upbringing made you afraid of pain during sex or you had a painful (first) sexual experience. But also an unfortunate fall as a child on your pubic bone - for example on the bar of a bicycle - a UTI, frequent washing - think of Muslim girls who wash 5 times a day before praying - or a vaginal wound can all cause pain upon penetration.
Feeling comfortable and safe
Do you feel like your partner doesn’t have the right expectations of you during sex? Talk about it. It’s important you feel comfortable and safe during sex. Your muscles will relax and this makes sex more enjoyable. After all, in your pelvic floor is your chakra that deals with sexuality and safety.
Vaginismus is treatable
It’s good to know that you’re not the only one with this condition and vaginismus can be treated easily. For example, a pelvic floor specialist, sexologist or psychologist can help you by teaching you how to relax your pelvic floor muscles and the muscles around the vagina. But please note that you do need to get a referral from a GP to visit these experts.
Symptoms of vaginismus
Inserting a tampon or penis into your vagina is impossible.
You want to have sex, but your body can’t handle penetration.
A pelvic exam by a doctor is impossible or extremely painful.
The skin around your vagina is extremely sensitive.
The most important tips according to Eveline Stallaart when you experience the above mentioned symptoms:
Don’t push through the pain. Pain is your body’s way of saying you should stop.
Explore with your partner what does work for sexual satisfaction besides penetration.
Don’t see the gynecologist or sexologist as a last resort. The sooner you seek help, the better.
Do I have vaginismus?
If you have vaginismus, know that it’s (almost) never a physical problem. There’s nothing wrong with your body and you’ll eventually be able to give birth. But right now, the muscles around your vagina are just too tense. You can try to reduce this tension by doing mirror exercises. Hold a mirror in front of your vagina and just try to have a good look at it. Can you do this? Then try to touch your vagina and massage the entrance with a bit of vaseline. Are you able to insert a finger? You can also try to insert a vaginal dilator. There are different sizes, so you can slowly get used to penetration (again). We do recommend that you seek guidance in this process from a sexologist or pelvic physiotherapist and don’t do this all by yourself.
You can find a (Dutch) pelvic floor physiotherapist near you via www.bekkenfysiotherapie.nl.
What else can you do when you experience pain during sex? Here are 8 solutions if sex hurts for you.