Vaginismus: What is it?

Whenever I try to have intercourse, I have had my vagina inexplicably tighten. My partner is unable to enter me. It has been very frustrating for both of us. It is embarrassing and little frightening. Have you heard of this?

What this sounds like is a condition called vaginismus. A woman with this condition experiences spasms in her pelvic muscles that may be strong enough to be quite painful. Since the vagina is surrounded by these muscles, its opening is often constricted so that insertion of a speculum in a pelvic exam or penetration during sex is uncomfortable or even impossible.

Vaginismus can arise from a variety of factors, either physical or psychological, or from a combination of both. Women who experienced some sort of sexual trauma in their past are more likely to suffer from the condition, since they may have trouble separating the emotions and feelings associated with an old incident of rape or abuse from an adult, healthy sexual relationship. Often, women who have had an episode or two of vaginismus become fearful that any sexual activity may bring on the pain again, so they may unconsciously clench up - their mental expectations can actually induce the condition in a vicious cycle that may be tricky to break. It is also possible that a woman can experience spasms without any sort of emotional burden from her past - instead, she could easily just be afraid of sex, and may tense her muscles without any conscious effort.

These muscle spasms may also arise from a host of physical causes, including skin problems in the genital and anal region, infections, or vaginal irritations. In a way, vaginismus serves the same function as any other pain mechanism in the body - it is an alarm that sounds to indicate something is damaged. And that sort of pain is sure to get one's attention, isn't it?

Very often, treating the underlying causes of vaginismus is enough to clear up the condition quickly. Depending on what those factors are, a woman may want to seek counseling. It is also possible to train the pubic muscles to stay relaxed by conditioning the vagina to penetration. A woman may do this herself with her fingers, or can use a series of dilators that come in a range of increasing diameters so that she may progress through them and back to a healthy state.

Rate this article: (1=lowest, 5=highest) 1    2    3    4    5   

Copyright © 1999 GenneX Healthcare Technologies,Inc.


a listing of scientific articles and texts used.

ARCHIVE (complete)