By Ogechukwu Agwu
Vaginismus is a condition that makes penetration, during sexual intercourse or gyneacological exam, difficult or impossible. This condition occurs when a woman’s muscles squeezes when something is entering it, whether a penis or a tampon. For some women, such penetration will be painful and for others it can generally bring them some level of discomfort.
According to medicalnewstoday.com, the pain experienced during vaginismus is caused by the involuntary contraction of the pelvic floor muscles – specifically the pubococcygeus (PC) muscle group – leading to generalised muscle spasm and temporary cessation of breathing. Secondary to pain, women may be unable to insert tampons or undergo gynecologic exams. The pain caused by this condition vary in persons and ranges from mild to severe, hence the sensations differs. The pain experienced during vaginismus is caused by the involuntary contraction of the pelvic floor muscles – specifically the pubococcygeus (PC) muscle group – leading to generalized muscle spasm and temporary cessation of breathing. Secondary to pain, women may be unable to insert tampons or undergo gynecologic exams.
According to Dr. Nzodimba Igwe, vaginismus is the leading cause of unconsummated marriages caused by emotional factors, medical factors or a combination of both. This condition can be treated with a combination of physical and emotional exercises, in other words; it is curable.
Vaginismus is considered to be one of the most successfully treatable female sexual disorders; success rate of treatment is nearly 100 per cent. Different forms of vaginismus exist and the symptoms vary in persons. Pain caused by vaginismus can range from mild to severe, and cause different sensations.
There are a number of different types of vaginismus that can affect women in any age category. They include; Primary vaginismus refers to a condition when she is unable to have penetrative sex or experience vaginal penetration without pain, it represents a lifetime condition in which the pain has always been present, it is often experienced by women during their first attempt at intercourse, the male partner is unable to insert his penis into the vagina and thereby feels like he is hitting a wall. This classification does not only affect the woman’s sexual intercourse but can also affect a woman’s ability to use tampons and undergo gynecological exams.
Secondary vaginismus usually refers to the experience of developing vaginismus little later in life after a period of pain free intercourse medical condition such as yeast infection, cancer, or thinning of the vaginal walls due to menopause, which can trigger the vaginismus condition. It can occur following a normal sexual function and has not always been present.
Signs and symptoms
Usually the first sign of this condition is experiencing pains when having sex. This pain, according to people with this condition, occurs when there is penetration.
Laide affirms this: “when I married my husband, I was a secondary virgin. I lost my virginity to my relative who was staying with us while growing up. I was 11 then when he raped me. This left me psychologically imbalance. I never forgot the experience, I hated men, but I didn’t think it would affect me this way, to the point of affecting me and my marriage, I never believed so,” she said.
Other signs include, long term sexual pain, with or without a known cause; pain during tampon insertion, pain during gynecological examination, painful intercourse (dyspareunia), described as burning, stinging or tightness causing pain, generalised muscle spasm or breathing cessation during attempted intercourse, difficulty in penetration, long term sexual pain with or without a known cause, long-term sexual pain with or without a known cause. The symptoms of vaginismus vary person to person.
Vaginismus does not prevent people from becoming sexually aroused. However, the symptoms may lead people to become anxious about sexual intercourse, instilling a desire to avoid sex or vaginal penetration.
Vaginismus is caused by physical stressors, emotional stressors or a combination of the two, and can become anticipatory. Emotional triggers of vaginismus include fear of pain or pregnancy. For instance, anxiety, guilt, issues with a sexual partner – an abusive partner, feelings of vulnerability, traumatic life events – rape, history of abuse, childhood experiences – upbringing, and exposure to sexual images.
Vaginismus can be triggered by common infections, such as urinary tract infections or yeast infections, physical triggers of vaginismus Infection – such as urinary tract infection (UTI) or yeast infection, disease conditions – such as those of cancer or lichen sclerosis.
Childbirth, menopause, pelvic surgery, inadequate foreplay, decreased vaginal lubrication and medication side effects are also some of the causes of this condition.
Many people – both males and females – are affected by sexual dysfunction; it is not something that is the individual’s fault, nor is it something to be ashamed of. In the majority of cases and with the help of specialists, sexual dysfunction can be resolved successfully.
Diagnosing vaginismus is a complicated process and may include one or more specialists, including gynecologists, physical therapists, sex therapists, psychologists and counselors. During physical evaluation, a medical history and pelvic exam will be performed.
Making sure that any underlying cause of pain is treated is vital in the diagnostic process for vaginismus, as the condition is commonly diagnosed through the process of elimination.
According to medicalnewstoday.com, “surgery will not cure vaginismus and may even worsen the condition. In addition, not treating the condition can worsen it, leading to a longer duration and increased intensity with PC muscle contraction.
The good news is that vaginismus is nearly 100 per cent curable. Treatment for vaginismus typically includes a combination of the following; Pelvic floor control exercises, this includes muscle contraction and relaxation activities (Kegel exercises) to improve control of the pelvic floor muscles, Insertion or dilation training, this entails supervised exercises using plastic dilators can help make a patient less sensitive to penetration, education and counseling that includes information that can be provided about the sexual anatomy and sexual response cycle, helping patients to understand their pain and the processes their body is going through and emotional exercises which allows the patient to identify, express and resolve any emotional factors that may be contributing to their vaginismus.
The time it takes for vaginismus to be successfully treated will vary depending on the individual.”