Challenging unhelpful vaginismus myths!

There exists A LOT of misinformation regarding vaginismus. I’ll be making a series of videos and blogs dispelling some myths about vaginismus, which will give you informed insight into the condition and how to properly resolve it.

Below is my video dispelling a couple of these myths…

Myth #1

Vaginismus is a physical issue and you need physical therapy to overcome it.

It can feel quite bewildering for women to understand what is actually going on ‘downstairs’ when vaginismus is occurring.

So many of the women that I have treated for vaginismus initially attributed the symptom to a physical abnormality, believing that there must be something wrong with their vagina. Many women describe a physical blockage as like hitting a wall. They believe their vagina was simply too narrow, too shallow or their hymen was preventing penetration.

Of course, it makes sense to think of vaginismus as a physical problem, after all, it manifests itself in very physically obvious ways so it can appear that there is a block preventing you from having sex or any form of penetration. I have also heard vaginismus being compared to having a physical injury, and the sufferer should be treated in the same manner as a person with a broken arm.

Your vagina is not broken or injured! But you are really good at tensing…

You are squeezing your muscles in response to the fear and trepidation you are creating in your mind.

Our mind is an remarkably powerful device and the thoughts we create can have an incredible impact upon our body. Simply with the power of our imagination we have the ability to create a whole host of physical sensations: we can make our heart race by thinking of a frightening situation; we can create a headache by feeling stressed. We can make ourselves cry by thinking sad thoughts.

Take a person with a fear of flying. When they are on a plane they may feel nervous at take off or landing, or when the plane encounters turbulence. Their fear leads to grip the arm rests of the chair. Of course their arm muscles are tensing….but only in response to their catastrophic thinking that the plane is going to plummet out of the sky. The minute they relax and stop thinking these terrifying thoughts, their body relaxes.

By treating vaginsmus as physical problem, you are diverting attention away from the REAL source of the tension….which is your thinking.

Myth #2

Vaginismus is caused by your muscles ‘spasming’

A common definition of vaginismus describes the condition as an ‘involuntary spasm of the vaginal muscles’. I believe the word ‘spasm’ is particular unhelpful. It suggests that there is a more complex physical process happening to your body that is completely outside of your control.

As Lahaie et al state in their review on the literature on vaginismus, “The term spasm itself is also misleading as there is no agreement on whether spasm refers to an involuntary muscle cramp, a defensive mechanism or a hypertonicity (abnormally high tension) of the pelvic floor muscles.”

I think it’s much more helpful and accurate to describe the restricting of access of the vagina to be caused by tensing of the vaginal muscles. The concept of muscles spasming, unnecessarily medicalises the process and implies more of a loss of control, than simply saying a woman is ‘tensing’ her muscles.

It may only be a slight change in terminology, but one that may have huge implications for how women view what is happening to their bodies when vaginismus occurs.

The Thrive Programme simplifies and clearly explains what is happening to your body to create vaginismus…and how to effectively overcome it.