Vaginismus is a condition that causes vaginal muscle contraction, making it difficult or impossible to have sexual intercourse, to insert a tampon, or to undergo a pelvic exam or gynaecological surgery. Although the cause of vaginismus is not well understood, it is thought to be triggered by a mixture of psychological and physical factors.
Vaginismus is a form of pelvic floor dysfunction that causes the pelvic floor to involuntarily contract when vaginal penetration is attempted. It can feel as though there is a wall blocking the entrance, which can be very worrying and confusing as this is totally outside of your control. With around 20% of women suffering from the condition, it is vital that we talk about it.
There are 3 types of vaginismus:
Primary: This can prevent penetration when first using tampons or trying to insert a menstrual cup. It can also prevent penetrative sex. For this reason, primary vaginismus is generally discovered during puberty or in early adulthood.
Secondary: This can occur following childbirth, during menopause or following pelvic surgery or trauma. That trauma can be physical or chemical in nature (such as a bad fall, radiotherapy for cancer treatment or an infection).
Spontaneous: This can happen at any point in life. This spontaneous is the body’s natural defence mechanism if penetration is forced, but it can also occur when a tampon or vaginal weight is being used. In that instance, the pelvic floor involuntarily contracts preventing removal of the weight or tampon.
How Can You Tell if You Have Vaginismus?
It can be a little confusing for women to know if they have vaginismus. Especially when there is the cultural myth that penetrative sex is painful and uncomfortable. Many women mistakenly believe that the initial difficulties, discomfort and pain when first using tampons or trying penetrate sex is normal and so disregard it as a potential problem. While some people may experience some discomfort and pain when attempting penetration (which is usually down to lack of lubrication), if you have vaginismus, there is no progress even with repeated practice or correct foreplay and lubrication.
The muscles of the vagina just tighten up all by themselves, even when you are looking forward to sex, even when you are fully aroused. As soon as it comes to penetration, it’s as if the is brick wall there.
It is likely that is doesn’t happen just the once. Repeated occurrences can leave you anxious, frustrated, angry, and even guilty – all kinds of unpleasant mixed emotions. It can put a real strain on relationships.
If sexual intercourse is often painful for you, it’s important to ask your doctor to check if some physical condition is causing it. If that gets ruled out, your doctor may conclude that the difficulty lies in the spontaneous spasms of vaginismus, which usually has a psychological cause.
Do you have any of these vaginismus symptoms?
- Unable or difficult to insert tampons or have a gynaecological examination
- Physically unable to have penetrative sex
- Sex is painful and raw if able to have sexual intercourse
- Deep fear and anxiety about sex or inserting items in your vagina
- Feelings of anxiety, fear or deep shame
- Low sex drive
- Avoidance of sexual intercourse and intimacy
Studies into Vaginismus
Scientists scanned the scanned the brains of women with vaginismus. The study founds structural changes in the part of the brain responsible for anxiety and fear in the patients with vaginismus, providing the notion that vaginismus may be a fear-related condition. This suggest that vaginismus is caused by the nervous system going into fight or flight. Your body is fearing penetration even if you are not consciously aware of the fear. Worrying and fearful thoughts have a tendency to place tension into the body, and in the case of vaginismus, this could be a major contributing factor to the condition.
Vaginismus is not your fault
People often worry when they hear the words ‘psychological cause’, because they think this means ‘it’s all there fault’ or ‘I must be crazy’. Neither is true.
Negative response patterns like this get established because at some time in the past your subconscious mind made a highly charged emotional connection linking a certain behaviour with unpleasant consequences. In order to protect you from those consequences, your body now reacts strongly against the behaviour.
In the case of vaginismus, such associations may be due to negative experiences around sex during childhood, like learning that sex is wrong or ‘dirty’. Or it could be that some previous sexual experiences turned out very badly for you, so now it’s hard to relax even if you are happy with your current partner. It could even be something unrelated to sex that you were stressed about that triggered the problem.
How to change your subconscious response
Your subconscious mind needs to learn that the danger it tries to protect you from is over, done. Whatever that danger was real or not. You simply don’t need that protection any more.
The easiest and quickest way to do this is with hypnosis, because hypnotherapy lets you communicate directly with your subconscious mind.
It can cure vaginismus by reassuring, soothing and calming the mind and body, and creating a link with the body and mind that penetration can be wonderfully easy, calm and pleasurable. Your vaginal muscles will literally relearn to relax during sex.
Hypnosis for Vaginismus
Hypnosis works directly with your unconscious mind by going directly to the source of the underlying root cause. It’s a powerful approach because it bypasses your “conscious mind”.
It can also help you:
- learn how to relax the vaginal muscles so you feel more open
- Let go of old limiting beliefs about sex, and as a result, feel empowered
- Experience sexual healing so you can take the steps to have sex
- Start to enjoy a happy and fulfilling sex life
Most people who have vaginismus have been able to cure the condition and overcome their fears. It is very possible to have a normal sex life again. The first step is being able to talk to someone about the problem, which is sometimes more difficult than the actual therapy.
If you want to know how hypnotherapy can help you with your vaginismus and whether or not it will work for you, please feel free to contact Helen Birch here. I’d be more than happy to talk to you about your situation to see if hypnotherapy is right for you. Thanks for reading and I wish you all the best in your search for a cure to vaginismus!