Vaginismus is a painful condition that’s characterized by involuntary muscle spasms. If you have it, you experience muscle contractions when you attempt vaginal penetration of any kind.
Vaginismus can make sexual intercourse painful or impossible, and it can also keep you from using tampons or getting a pelvic exam. It’s a common condition, but experts aren’t sure just how many women are affected..
The condition is often diagnosed among girls in their late teens and women in their 20s and 30s. Sometimes, it develops in older women who have never had symptoms before. The reasons behind vaginismus aren’t clear, but it’s important to recognize that it’s a treatable medical condition.
Stuart Shoengold, MD, and our compassionate team at the Center for Female and Male Sexual Medicine specialize in diagnosing and treating vaginismus. If you find vaginal penetration painful or impossible, we can provide the treatment you need.
Recognizing the signs of vaginismus
Vaginismus causes the muscles in your vagina to spasm, which means they contract involuntarily. When these muscles contract, vaginal penetration becomes difficult or impossible. Women with vaginismus may find that they can’t:
- Have pain-free penetrative sex
- Use tampons
- Use menstrual cups
- Get gynecologic exams
If you have vaginismus, sexual intercourse and other types of penetration can be very painful. Experiencing pain primes your body to protect intself from more pain in the future, which can continue making vaginismus symptoms worse each time you attempt to have sex.
Having vaginismus doesn’t affect your sex drive or your ability to get aroused. It’s an involuntary reflex that tightens the muscles in your vaginal walls. You can’t control this reflex, and it’s similar to your eye shutting on its own if something is coming towards it.
Any woman can suffer from vaginismus, and it’s not clear what causes it. There’s some evidence that having anxiety, prior surgery, traumatic childbirth injuries, or experiencing sexual abuse could increase your risk of vaginismus.
Treatment options for vaginismus
If you notice pain with sexual intercourse or pain when inserting a tampon, make an appointment with us. Pain with penetration isn’t normal, and it’s important to get a diagnosis so you can find relief from the discomfort.
Our health care team starts by reviewing your symptoms and your medical history. We may perform a pelvic exam to rule out other conditions and confirm your vaginismus diagnosis.
Since every woman is different, there’s no single treatment option for vaginismus. Treatment focuses on minimizing muscle spasms and reducing your anxiety around the condition.
Using a topical anesthetic outside your vagina can make penetration easier and more comfortable. Dr. Shoengold and our team may recommend pelvic floor physical therapy (Kegels), vaginal dilator therapy, and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) to improve symptoms.
Sex therapy can also help you manage vaginsmus. It’s appropriate for individuals and couples, and your therapist works with you to help you find sexual satisfaction and overcome symptoms of vaginismus.
You don’t have to suffer with the symptoms of vaginismus in silence. Find the support and the care you need at the Center for Female and Male Sexual Medicine. Call our office in Millburn, New Jersey, at 973-218-9400 or book an appointment online.