Vaginismus (also known as vaginism) is a sexual problem affecting women. It causes penetration to be painful or impossible due to the tensing of the vaginal muscles. Sufferers may also experience anxiety and difficulty inserting tampons or undergoing gynecological examinations.
It is an emotional and psychological condition. The causes of it are psychological, although it manifests as a physical condition. This vaginal tightness may cause sexual discomfort or pain, burning or tearing sensations, and inability to have sex or insert any object into your vagina.
Vaginismus is the main cause of unconsummated relationships, and it can put relationships under great strain. It is extremely frustrating to be unable to physically engage in pleasurable sex and sufferers often feel abnormal and embarrassed about the condition. The anticipation of pain or sexual ‘failure’ further contributes to and reinforces the symptoms of vaginismus. This can lead to avoidance of penetration and a feeling of alienation from ones own body as the vagina becomes a no-go zone. This exaccerbates feelings of failure, or general squeamishness about your vagina.
Types of vaginismus
Primary vaginismus: This is where a woman has never at any time been able to have pain-free penetration due to the tensing of the vaginal muscles. Some women with primary vaginismus are unable to wear tampons or complete pelvic examinations. Often, this condition means that couples are unable to consummate their relationship.
Secondary vaginismus: This is vaginismus that develops after the woman has previously experienced successful penetration. The occurance of vaginismus may appear quite random.
Vaginismus – a ‘hidden’ problem
Most of my vaginismus clients have told me just how difficult it was to even find a name for the condition. There exists a real lack of information about the problem, leading to sufferers feeling even more confused and isolated. Men with sexual problems have it easier! There is a great deal of information about conditions such as premature ejaculation – that condition is widely recognised.
Symptoms of vaginismus
It is likely that you have vaginismus if you experience most or all of the following:
- You feel very anxious or fearful at the thought of penetration.
- You avoid penetration due to fear of pain or other negative emotions. This may include avoidance of tampons, sex or gynaecological examinations.
- You feel as though there is a ‘wall’ or other obstacle inside your vagina preventing penetration or imagine your vagina to be abnormally narrow.
- You experience a burning or stinging pain and tightness of the vagina if penetration occurs. This can range from mild discomfort to significant, unbearable pain
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