Vaginismus is a painful spasmodic contraction of the vagina in response to physical contact or pressure, especially during sexual intercourse.
What is Vaginismus?
Vaginismus is vaginal tightness causing discomfort, burning, pain, penetration problems, or complete inability to have intercourse.
The vaginal tightness results from the involuntary tightening of the pelvic floor, especially the pubococcygeus (PC) muscle group, although the woman may not be aware that this is the cause of her penetration or pain difficulties.
Vaginismus is a common cause of ongoing sexual pain and is also the primary female cause of sexless (unconsummated) marriages. Sexual pain can affect women in all stages of life; even women who have had years of comfortable sex. While temporarily experiencing discomfort during sexual intercourse is not unusual, ongoing problems should be diagnosed and treated.
Common Symptoms :
Causes of Vaginismus
For many women, vaginismus comes as a surprise; unexplained tightness, discomfort, pain, and entry problems are unexpectedly experienced during intercourse attempts.
The pain results from the tightening of the muscles around the vagina (PC muscles). Since this occurs without the conscious intent or control of the woman, it can be very perplexing. Usually at the root of vaginismus is a combination of physical or non-physical triggers that cause the body to anticipate pain. Reacting to the anticipation of pain, the body automatically tightens the vaginal muscles, bracing to protect itself from harm. Sex becomes uncomfortable or painful, and entry may be more difficult or impossible depending upon the severity of this tightened state. With attempts at sex, any resulting discomfort further reinforces the reflex response so that it intensifies more. The body experiences increased pain and reacts by bracing more on an ongoing basis, further entrenching this response and creating a vaginismus.
Since vaginismus can be triggered by physical events as simple as having inadequate foreplay or lubrication, or non-physical emotions as simple as general anxiety, it is important that it be understood that vaginismus is not the woman's fault. Once triggered, the involuntary muscle tightness occurs without conscious direction; the woman has not intentionally 'caused' or directed her body to tighten and cannot simply make it stop.
Women with vaginismus may initially be sexually responsive and deeply desire to make love but over time this desire may diminish due to pain and feelings of failure and discouragement. It is extremely frustrating to be unable to physically engage in pleasurable sexual intercourse. The anticipation of pain, emotional anxieties, or unhealthy sexual messages can contribute to and reinforce the symptoms of vaginismus. Frequently, but not always, there are deep-seated underlying negative feelings of anxiety associated with vaginal penetration. Emotional triggers that result in vaginismus symptoms are not always readily apparent and require some exploration. It is important that effective treatment processes include addressing any emotional triggers so a full pain-free and pleasurable sexual relationship can be enjoyed upon resolution.