Jump to content

Vaginismus: A Quiet Storm

Published

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 15 years experience.

Many women quietly suffer from a problem that affects their intimate relationships and overall quality of life. The purpose of this article is to further discuss a medical condition called vaginismus.

Vaginismus: A Quiet Storm

Vaginismus is a medical term that refers to involuntary vaginal tightness when any type of penetration is attempted. The condition may render all forms of penetration impossible or extremely painful, including the insertion of tampons, sexual intercourse, or routine gynecological examinations.

The pubococcygeus muscle, better known as the pelvic floor muscle that surrounds the vagina, involuntarily tenses and spasms without notice. This involuntary muscular response results in excessive tightness that may prevent penetration in the most extreme cases. The woman afflicted with vaginismus has no voluntary control over the spasm of her pelvic floor muscles.

Two distinctly different types of vaginismus exist. Primary vaginismus refers to vaginal tightness that is so intense that a woman has never experienced pain-free sexual intercourse in her lifetime. Many females with primary vaginismus have never been able to undergo routine pelvic examinations, wear tampons, or insert menstrual cups or vaginal suppositories.

Other women experience emotional torment because they have been physically unable to have intercourse or consummate their relationships with their significant others. Secondary vaginismus refers to extreme vaginal tightness that suddenly occurs in females who were regularly able to achieve problem-free penetration in the past. Secondary vaginismus sometimes occurs during menopause, after traumatic childbirth, after a surgical procedure, or as a psychological response to a sexual assault.

Fortunately, several treatment modalities are available to treat vaginismus. The exact treatment option for vaginismus is heavily dependent upon the specific reason that the patient developed the condition.

According to the Vaginismus website (2012), effective treatment approaches combine pelvic floor control exercises, insertion or dilation training, pain elimination techniques, transition steps, and exercises designed to help women identify, express and resolve any contributing emotional components.

The woman afflicted with vaginismus may choose to initiate treatment within the privacy of her own home, or she may consult with a health care provider who is knowledgeable about the condition. In addition, psychological issues may arise when a woman suffers from vaginismus, so seeking the help of a sex therapist or other mental health professional may greatly benefit these types of patients.

Although the worldwide incidence of vaginismus is thought to be between 1 percent and 17 percent, the true prevalence is not yet known due to the lack of available data. In addition, it is believed that many women who have the condition never seek treatment due to shame, mortification, lack of knowledge, or embarrassment. However, with treatment options available, women around the world no longer need to suffer in silence.

RESOURCES

Medicine Central:

Home - Vaginismus.com

work-cited.txt

TheCommuter, BSN, RN, CRRN is a longtime physical rehabilitation nurse who has varied experiences upon which to draw for her articles. She was an LPN/LVN for more than four years prior to becoming a Registered Nurse.

224 Articles   27,608 Posts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

17 Comment(s)

noahsmama

Specializes in pediatrics, public health.

I had never heard of this -- thanks for a very interesting article!

SoundRN7

Specializes in Psych/AOD. Has 6 years experience.

If a woman has this condition and becomes pregnant, would she automatically have a c-section at the time of birth?

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 15 years experience.

If a woman has this condition and becomes pregnant, would she automatically have a c-section at the time of birth?
No, not necessarily.

With vaginismus, things can exit the vaginal canal (such as newborn offspring, menstrual blood, etc.), but the woman struggles with penetration (a.k.a. entry) into the vagina.

SuzieeQ

Specializes in Geriatrics, retirement, home care.. Has 3 years experience.

Interesting article... I had never heard of this before.

There was an episode of "Strange Sex" (non-fiction show) about a newlywed gal with this condition. Had never heard of it before then. She got therapy and eventually was able to 'consummate' her marriage. Episode:

sixela21

Specializes in Mental & Behavioral Health/Geriatrics. Has 2 years experience.

The first time I heard of this was actually on the Tyra show a few years ago. About two or three couples on the show were discussing their experience with it, and many were never able to consummate their marriages. Only one had successfully gotten pregnant after one attempt at intercourse with her husband, and she described the experience as immensely painful--her husband commented that he felt like he was raping his own wife...very sad. I can see why so many of these women suffer silently..

j0yegan

Has 4 years experience.

I think I'll have to take an anti anxiety med. .. and therefore have someone drive me to work. :(

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 15 years experience.

I think I'll have to take an anti anxiety med. .. and therefore have someone drive me to work. :(
Why? Can you elaborate?

j0yegan

Has 4 years experience.

Why? Can you elaborate?

Sorry, my other post was deleted for some reason...

I have to get a pap smear and I know I have vaginismus. I'm thinking about taking anti-anxiety medicine to calm down and maybe my muscles won't tighten so much... and I'll need someone to drive me to the appointment because you're not supposed to drive on anti-anxiety medicine since it can cause drowsiness. I've NEVER taken anything for anxiety in my life either. I took half a pill today to see how I'd react. I was getting so much anxiety just thinking about getting a pap smear and was crying. It's so embarrassing. I feel like I can't talk to anyone about this.

mamagui

Specializes in Eventually Midwifery. Has 1+ years experience.

Sorry, my other post was deleted for some reason...

I have to get a pap smear and I know I have vaginismus. I'm thinking about taking anti-anxiety medicine to calm down and maybe my muscles won't tighten so much... and I'll need someone to drive me to the appointment because you're not supposed to drive on anti-anxiety medicine since it can cause drowsiness. I've NEVER taken anything for anxiety in my life either. I took half a pill today to see how I'd react. I was getting so much anxiety just thinking about getting a pap smear and was crying. It's so embarrassing. I feel like I can't talk to anyone about this.

(((HUGS)))) So sorry for you! Have you discussed treatment options with your doctor?

j0yegan

Has 4 years experience.

(((HUGS)))) So sorry for you! Have you discussed treatment options with your doctor?

Appreciate it. My doctor referred me to a gynecologist to do the pap smear because I couldn't get through it. She actually could see my muscles tightening up and couldn't continue. I'm trying to stop being depressed about it and be more hopeful. My husband has been so supportive and patient with me. I mean, it's painful but I just kinda suck it up and get through it. There's always a spot of blood afterwards, too.

j0yegan

Has 4 years experience.

You know what. I think this whole thing started when I got my first pap smear (I was still a virgin). The doctor made me get one because I was a certain age (when everyone else has sex). That was the worst pain I ever had. And NOW when there is any kind of penetration, my muscles tighten up in anticipation of pain. :(

mamagui

Specializes in Eventually Midwifery. Has 1+ years experience.

That is awful! Perhaps you should talk to a therapist- I bet they could help you work through this so that you could still go along and have a happy, healthy sex life. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I am sure it is very difficult to talk about this and is says a lot about your character to be able to share with us what this condition is like.

j0yegan

Has 4 years experience.

That is awful! Perhaps you should talk to a therapist- I bet they could help you work through this so that you could still go along and have a happy, healthy sex life. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I am sure it is very difficult to talk about this and is says a lot about your character to be able to share with us what this condition is like.

Thank you so much for the kind words. I've kept it to myself for quite some time. And it's especially hard because I work on postpartum... women who are able to have sex and give birth just fine. I mean, I can still have sex; there's just excruciating pain in the beginning. Hopefully the OBGYN will discuss some treatment options for me. I know she's a professional; I just still feel really awkward and shy talking about it and feeling like a freak. I've never seen a therapist before. Maybe I'll be referred to one by the OBGYN or maybe there will be something else to try. We'll see, I suppose. She can even see if something is anatomically wrong down there.

I'll keep you guys updated. Thanks everyone for being so kind.

Edited by j0yegan

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 15 years experience.

Sorry, my other post was deleted for some reason...

I have to get a pap smear and I know I have vaginismus. I'm thinking about taking anti-anxiety medicine to calm down and maybe my muscles won't tighten so much... and I'll need someone to drive me to the appointment because you're not supposed to drive on anti-anxiety medicine since it can cause drowsiness. I've NEVER taken anything for anxiety in my life either. I took half a pill today to see how I'd react. I was getting so much anxiety just thinking about getting a pap smear and was crying. It's so embarrassing. I feel like I can't talk to anyone about this.

I used to have this same issue, which is why I wrote about it in the first place (gulp).

Various therapies have been life-changing for me. Once you can train your muscle down there to relax for certain occasions such as sex, gynecological procedures, tampon insertion and any type of penetration you previously found uncomfortable, it feels as if you've conquered the world. Feel free to send me a private message if you want more information.