Painful intercourse can be the first indicator for many women that they’re suffering from vaginismus. The severity can be mildly uncomfortable to extremely painful.
Other symptoms of vaginismus include:
- discomfort when trying to insert a tampon
- pain when a doctor tries to perform a pelvic exam
- fear of sexual intercourse
- the loss of desire for sex
Infections and dryness can also make intercourse painful. It’s good to see a doctor to look into the cause.
Some of my clients have described the pain as “a wall inside the vaginal canal” with muscle spasms to follow. About 12 to 21% of women in the U.S. suffer from pelvic pain due to vaginismus. The true data can be a bit under-reported as the surveys are limited.
Primary vaginismus is when a woman has had pain whenever anything entered their vagina, or when they’re never been able to put anything into their vagina. This also called lifelong vaginismus.
Secondary vaginismus is when a woman has had sex without pain before, but then it becomes difficult or impossible. This is also called acquired vaginismus.
The good news is that vaginismus can be treated.
How a Sex Therapist Can Help Treat Vaginismus
Research has shown that anxiety and fear of having sexual relations is linked to the muscles tensing up inside a vagina. A therapist can address these issues. Along with therapy, there are exercises a woman can do to help with the vaginal contractions.
One is called progressive desensitization. The idea is to get comfortable with insertion.
First, do Kegel exercises by squeezing the muscles you use to stop the flow of urine:
- Squeeze the muscles.
- Hold for 2 to 10 seconds.
- Relax the muscles.
Do about 20 Kegels at a time. Do them as often a day as you want.
After several days of Kegels, put a finger, up to the bend of the first knuckle, inside your vagina while doing Kegels. It is a good idea to clip your fingernails first and/or use a lubricant. Or do the exercises in a bathtub, where water is a natural lubricant.
Start with one finger and work up to three. You’ll feel your vagina’s muscles clenching around your finger.
After a while, you’ll be able to insert cone-shaped devices prescribed by your medical professional into your vagina for 10 or 15 minutes. These will help your muscles adapt to pressure.