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Diseases » Vaginismus » Wikipedia
 

Vaginismus in Wikipedia

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Vaginismus". (Source - Retrieved 2006-09-07 14:26:22 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaginismus)

Introduction

Vaginismus is a condition which affects a woman's ability to have sexual intercourse, insert tampons and undergo gynecological examinations. This is the result of a conditioned muscle reflex of the pubococcygeus muscle in which they clamp shut, making penetration either extremely painful or impossible. The severity of vaginismus varies from woman to woman.

It is important to remember that the woman does not choose for this to happen; it is a reflex reaction. Vaginismus can be compared to the response of the eye shutting when an object comes towards it. A woman with vaginismus learns to expect pain to come with penetration and so her mind automatically sends a signal to her PC muscles to clamp shut, thus making penetration either impossible or very painful.

The conditioned reflex creates a vicious circle for vaginismic women. For example, if a teenage girl is told that the first time she has sex it will be very painful, she may develop vaginismus because she expects pain. If she then attempts to have sexual intercourse, her muscles will spasm and clamp shut which will make sex painful. This then confirms her fear of pain as does each further attempt at intercourse. Every time the fear is confirmed, the brain is being "shown" that sex does hurt and that the reflex reaction of the PC muscles is needed. This is why it is important that if a woman suspects she has vaginismus, she stops attempting to have sexual intercourse. This does not mean women with vaginismus can not partake in other sexual activities, as long as penetration is avoided. It is a common misconception that these women do not want to have sex as a lot of the time, they desperately do.

There is no one reason that a woman may have vaginismus and in fact, there are a variety of factors that can contribute. These may be psychological or physiological and the treatment required will usually depend on the reason why the woman has the condition. Some examples of causes of vaginimus include sexual abuse, strict religious upbringing, being taught that sex is dirty or wrong or simply the fear of pain associated with penetration, and in particular, losing your virginity. These are just some of the reported reasons behind vaginismus and there are many, many more. It is a very personal condition and so each case must be looked at individually as causes and treatment can not be generalised to all women with vaginismus.

Most women who suffer from vaginismus do not realise they have it until they try to insert a tampon or have sex for the first time and so it may come as quite a shock to them. Whether they choose to treat the problem or not is entirely their choice and they should never be led to believe that vaginismus must be treated. It will not get worse or more serious if left untreated unless the woman is continuing to have sex/use tampons despite feeling pain on penetration.

Primary vaginismus

Primary vaginismus occurs when a woman has never been able to have sexual intercourse or achieve any other kind of penetration. It is commonly discovered in teenagers and women in their early twenties as this is when the majority of women will attempt to use tampons, have sexual intercourse or complete a pap smear for the first time. It can often be very confusing for a woman when she discovers she has vaginismus as we are led to believe that sex is something that comes naturally to us. It can be even more confusing if the woman does not know why she has the condition, as is true for many women.

Secondary vaginismus

Secondary vaginismus occurs when a woman who has previously been able to achieve penetration, acquires vaginismus for one reason or another. This is often due to physical causes such as a yeast infection or trauma during childbirth; however, it can also be down to psychological causes. The treatment for secondary vaginismus is the same as for primary vaginismus but in many cases the knowledge that you can have sex and have previously achieved penetration can aid treatment and speed the process up a little.

Treatment

If the cause of vaginismus is psychological then it is usually important to treat those aspects of the problem as well as the actual muscle spasm. This will usually require help from a therapist or psychologist as it is very important to get to the root of the problem.

If the vaginismus does not have any psychological grounds then physical treatment alone may be enough to fix the problem. This includes sensate focus exercises, exploring the vagina and desensitization involving vaginal dilators. Dilating involves inserting objects (usually mildly resembling a penis in shape), into the vagina. Whatever objects the woman chooses to use for dilation, they should gradually increase in size as she progresses. Medical dilators can be obtained from online resources but are often quite expensive. There are many other options though, some women use vegetables and candles covered with a condom, q-tips or simply their own fingers. It is very important to use personal lubricant whilst dilating as it makes insertion a lot easier and less painful.

The process of curing vaginismus is usually a long one and will require patience, will power and determination; in almost all cases it can be successfully treated. Many people don't take into account the emotional problems associated with vaginismus such as low self esteem, insecurities and often even depression, so it is very important that if women choose to seek the help of professionals, they should try to find someone who is very understanding and who has previous experience with vaginismus.

 

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