Vaginismus is caused by spasms in the muscles of a woman’s pelvic floor. It’s associated with pain and discomfort when you try to have sex, use a tampon or undergoes a gynaecological exam.
Vaginismus is a fairly common problem that affects women and girls of all ages. The pelvic floor is made in part by the pubococcygeus muscles. Erratic and spontaneous contraction of these muscles results in vaginismus, a condition characterized by unusual tightening of the vagina. Vaginismus causes varying levels of distress and frustration in women who experience it.
Types of Vaginismus
Four forms of vaginismus have been described.
- In primary vaginismus, a woman experiences the condition from her childhood. As such, the woman experiences difficulty in using tampons. The first sexual encounter for such a woman is marked by the inability of the penis to penetrate into the vagina. Primary vaginismus may result in pain, generalized body spasms and even cessation of breathing during attempted vaginal entry.
- Secondary vaginismus tends to develop later in life after a woman has already experienced normal coitus. It can be attributed to many factors, e.g., surgery, childbirth, trauma, menopause, infections, emotional factors (relationship issue), etc.
- Global vaginismus is vaginismus that is experienced at all times and easily triggered by any object.
- Situational vaginismus occurs in some situations but not in others. For instance, it may occur during sex but not during tampon insertion or during gynaecological exam.
How to You Tell That You Are Experiencing Vaginismus?
Vaginismus manifests differently in different females. The most common complaint is that of vaginal pain accompanied by tightening and a burning or stinging sensation around the vagina whenever vaginal entry is attempted. It may occur during sexual intercourse, gynaecological examinations, and tampon insertion among others.
Some women also unknowingly experience vaginismus as unexplained long-term pain during sex.
A woman who has experienced vaginismus avoids sex and any other form of sexual penetration even though she may be sexually aroused.
Causes of Vaginismus
Interplay of physical and emotional factors contributes to the causation of vaginismus. With time, vaginismus may become anticipatory such that the woman experiences it just because she expects it to occur.
- Fear, for instance of pain and pregnancy
- Anxiety due to guilt or about sexual performance
- Post-traumatic, e.g. following rape or sexual abuse
- Unhealthy sexual relationship, e.g. an abusive partner
- Childhood experiences like early exposure to sexual activities
- Urinary tract Infections
- Surgery in the pelvic region
- Side effects of medicines
- Medical conditions such as lichen sclerosis and cancer
- Lack of proper foreplay
- Insufficient lubrication of vagina
Sexual problems affect males and females alike. Vaginismus is, therefore, nothing to be ashamed of. Should you suspect that you are experiencing vaginismus, talk to a doctor, and together you may find the right solution to your problem.