Vaginismus – the silent illness

Issues regarding women’s bodies rarely openly discussed and most woman suffer in silence when they have an embarrassing problem.

Imagine a young woman on her wedding night, realizing with great shock that she is unable so have sex. This woman may suffer in silence and never reach out for help. Embarrassing problems like these could mean the end of a marriage.

The truth is that Vaginismus is something that many women struggle with, but never talk about. It is definitively not something to be embarrassed about and should be openly discussed in order to stop women from suffering in silence.

What is Vaginismus?

Vaginismus is an involuntary contraction of the vaginal muscles which makes sexual intercourse, and gynaecological examinations, difficult or impossible.  The definition of vaginismus, a genito–pelvic pain/penetration disorder, has recently been expanded in the light of research and now incorporates pain, muscle tension and fear of penetration.

It is one of the more common female sexual problems. Vaginismus can be classified as either primary or secondary. Primary vaginismus occurs when the woman has never been able to have penetrative sex because of the involuntary contraction of her vaginal muscles. Secondary vaginismus occurs when a woman has previously been able to have penetrative sex, but is no longer able to.

Vaginismus Symptoms

Painful sex (dyspareunia) is often the first sign of vaginismus. The pain happens only with penetration. It usually goes away after withdrawal, but not always.

Many women who have vaginismus also feel discomfort when inserting a tampon or having a pelvic exam at their doctor’s office.

Other symptoms of vaginismus include:

  • Not being able to have penetrative sex or insert a tampon at all
  • Fear of pain or sex
  • Loss of sexual desire

These symptoms are involuntary, meaning a woman can’t control them without treatment.

Vaginismus Causes

Doctors don’t know exactly why vaginismus happens. It’s usually linked to anxiety or fear of having sex. But it’s not always clear which came first, the vaginismus or the anxiety.

Some women have vaginismus in all situations and with any object. Others have it only in certain cases, like with one partner but not others. Or they might have it with sexual intercourse but not with tampons or during medical exams.

Other health problems like infections and dryness can also cause painful intercourse. It’s important to see a doctor to find out what’s causing it.

Vaginismus treatment

The good news is that treatment for this condition is available. Many women go on to have healthy lives after treatment.

They key is always to consult a medical professional.

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