What are Vaginismus and Treatment?

Dr Foram Bhuta

Dr Foram Bhuta

BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery), 10 years of experience

January 18, 2022 Womens Health 371 Views

English हिन्दी Bengali العربية

What is the meaning of Vaginismus?

The involuntary contraction or tensing of muscles around the vagina is known as vaginismus. The muscles surrounding the vagina squeeze or spasm when something enters inside it, like a tampon, finger, medical instrument, or penis. This can cause mild discomfort or severe pain. The vagina is a part of the female reproductive system connecting the lower part of the uterus (womb) called the cervix to the outside of the body. 

In this article, we will be discussing in detail vaginismus and its treatment.

  • What are the types of Vaginismus?
  • What are the causes of Vaginismus?
  • What are the symptoms of Vaginismus?
  • How to diagnose Vaginismus?
  • What is the treatment for Vaginismus?
  • What are the complications of Vaginismus?

What are the types of Vaginismus?

The different types of vaginismus include:

  • Primary vaginismus: This condition occurs when a woman has pain every time something enters her vagina, like the penis (during penetrative sex), or when nothing has ever been inserted into a woman’s vagina. It is also known as lifelong vaginismus.
  • Secondary vaginismus: This condition is seen in a woman who has had sex without any pain before, but later on it becomes difficult or not possible. It is also known as acquired vaginismus.
  • Global vaginismus: This type of vaginismus is always present, and can be triggered by any object.
  • Situational vaginismus: This type of vaginismus occurs only in a few situations, for example, it may happen during sex, but not during tampon insertion or gynecological exams.

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What are the causes of Vaginismus?

Vaginismus can occur due to emotional factors, physical factors, or both. The various causes include:

Emotional triggers may include:

  • Anxiety due to guilt or about sexual performance
  • Fear of pain or pregnancy
  • History of physical abuse or rape
  • Relationship troubles
  • Abusive partner
  • Adverse childhood experiences, like exposure to sexual images or unpleasant portrayal of sex

Physical triggers may include:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Fungal or yeast infection
  • Childbirth
  • Menopause
  • Medical disorders like cancer or lichen sclerosis (a skin condition causing white, thin patches of skin, usually in the genital area)
  • Surgery in the pelvic (below the stomach) region 
  • Side effects of certain medications
  • Insufficient lubrication of the vagina
  • Inadequate foreplay

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What are the symptoms of Vaginismus?

The symptoms of vaginismus include:

  • Dyspareunia (painful sexual intercourse)
  • Pain and tightness around the vagina, that may be burning or stinging
  • Pain that can be mild or severe
  • Sexual penetration is difficult or impossible
  • Pain during insertion of tampon
  • Long-term pain during sex, with or without any known cause
  • Pain during a gynecological examination
  • Generalized spasm of muscles around the vagina during an attempted sexual intercourse
  • Breathing cessation during an attempted intercourse

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How to diagnose Vaginismus?

  • Physical examination: The doctor will examine your physical health status, and ask about your medical and family history.
  • Pelvic exam: The doctor will insert his/her one or two gloved, lubricated fingers into the vagina to examine the internal female reproductive organs. The doctor may apply a numbing agent before the examination, to ease any pain or discomfort during the procedure, and be extremely gentle while performing the procedure. This test is done to rule out any other condition that may be causing your symptoms.

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What is the treatment for Vaginismus?

Vaginismus can affect your physical and psychological health.

Treatment may include a combination of different interventions that can help in reducing or curing the vaginismus symptoms. The aim of the treatment is a reduction in the automatic tightening of the muscles and anxiety or stress, and may include the following options:

  • Pelvic floor control exercises: These exercises include contraction and relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles, or Kegel exercises, for improving the control of the pelvic floor muscles. Kegel exercises are done by first squeezing the muscles used to stop the flow when urinating, holding the muscles for 2 to 10 seconds, and then relaxing the muscles. You can do approximately 20 Kegels at a time, for 3 or more times in a day.
  • Counseling, sex education, and sex therapy: Sex education is important for an individual to understand the sexual anatomy and response cycle, as well the sexual process and pain that the body may be undergoing. Trained sex therapists can help individuals and couples to improve their sexual relationships.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): This therapy helps you in understanding how your thinking affects your behavior and emotions. It is an effective form of treatment for anxiety and depression.
  • Topical therapy: Topical lidocaine (a type of anesthesia) or medicated creams may help in relieving the pain associated with vaginismus.
  • Vaginal dilator therapy: Tube-shaped devices that are used to stretch the vagina are known as vaginal dilators. These dilators come in several sizes. They are used to get more comfortable and less sensitive during vaginal penetration. The doctor may recommend the application of a topical numbing cream first on the outside of the vagina, for making the insertion of a vaginal dilator easier.

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What are the complications of Vaginismus?

The complications of vaginismus may include:

  • May affect your sexual life and relationship with your partner
  • Increased anxiety
  • Difficulty in conceiving if you are trying to get pregnant

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You should immediately visit your doctor in the following conditions:

  • Pain that continues after the removal of a foreign object from the vagina
  • Vaginal redness, itching, or soreness
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding, for example, after sex or between your menstrual periods
  • Severe pain or pain that gets worse with time
  • Foul-smelling or colored vaginal discharge
  • Stomach pain
  • Pain on urination
  • Frequent urination
  • Blisters or rashes seen in the vaginal area
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever

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We hope that we could answer all your questions regarding Vaginismus and its treatment through this article.

If you need more information related to vaginismus and its treatment, then you can contact a Gynecologist.

We only aim to provide you with information through this article. We do not recommend any medicine or treatment. Only a doctor can give you the best advice and correct treatment plan. 

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