Do pelvic floor / muscle strenghtening exercises for vaginismus really work?

Ladies, it is a myth that vaginismus is caused by weak vaginal muscles and that strengthening them will lead to recovery

A common myth is that vaginismus is the result of weak pelvic floor muscles; that through lack of use they have become stiff and tight. This belongs to the school of thought that says ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it’.

Proponents of this theory compare the lack of use of the PC muscles with other muscles such as those in our eyes or limbs. And of course, these muscles WILL weaken through lack of use, having a detrimental affect on that body part. I don’t dispute the fact that the strength of the PC muscles should be maintained, but only in order to do such things as improve bladder and bowel control, and improve recovery after gynaecological surgery. Plus, having sufficient muscle strength can be a key factor in the enjoyment of sex and experiencing sensations.

If you are doing any kind of muscle strengthening exercises to overcome vaginismus, they won’t do you physical harm, but it is a futile exercise. The pain that you experience with vaginismus is caused by trying to squeeze an object (dilator, penis, etc) through tightly clenched muscles.

The theory that vaginal pain is the result of weakened muscles doesn’t stand up to any logic scrutiny. If you struggle with inserting objects past your PC muscles, it demonstrates that they are working TOO hard and are over-responsive. Every time you tense your muscles and prevent entry of a penis or dilator, etc., your PC muscles are getting a fantastic work-out.

Far from being too weak, your PC muscles are like a steel trap, ready to spring into action at the slightest hint of penetration!

Consider the examples below that illustrate how untrue the notion is that vaginal pain is the result of muscle wastage that occurs from inactivity:

  • Women can be celibate for years and do not experience pain when they become sexually active again. If a woman develops secondary vaginismus later in life, it will not be from lack of use of her vagina, but is nearly always preceded by some sort of medical condition or is triggered by a negative sexual experience or difficulties in her relationship.
  • Women who have situational vaginismus can sometimes enjoy pain-free sex, and other times will experience pain. The muscle tone remains unchanged.
  • The many women who can easily insert dilators but find sex painful.
  • Women who suddenly develop vaginismus after having enjoyed pain-free sex.

I am currently working with Fiona, a sexual health doctor with vaginismus who confirms the above. She says,

“I was frustrated reading about the endless physical therapies and misinformation surrounding vaginismus. It’s no surprise things like pelvic floor exercises don’t work because vaginismus is not a physical problem. I’ve learnt through the thrive programme my vagina is perfectly normal, it’s my thinking that is problematic.”

You may be wondering how can there be such conflicting views on the efficacy of muscle exercises for overcoming vaginismus. If these exercises are as ineffective as I say they are, why are they still being recommended? Well, although the manifestation of vaginismus is physical, the causes of it are psychological and emotional – and these components are less tangible than a physical ‘problem’. So, when the real contributory psychological factors are overlooked, it is not surprising that ‘weak vaginal muscles’ get the blame and are erronously targeted.

The Cure your Vaginismus and Thrive Programme will give you all the knowledge and insights that you need in order to understand and change the contributory factors causing vaginismus. Click here for more details.