What is vaginismus?
Vaginismus (painful intercourse) is the involuntary contraction in the genital region making sex painful or impossible for a woman. Vaginismus is a much more common condition than people realise.
Some women have never been able to have normal sexual intercourse as vaginal penetration is too painful (called primary vaginismus). This is often discovered in their teenage years when they try to start using tampons or perhaps find an internal examination at their doctors extremely uncomfortable.
Others have had sex in the past but now find it difficult or impossible (this is secondary vaginismus). Secondary vaginismus can be caused by genital infections, surgery, child-birth or even rape.
Dyspareunia is the medical word for 'painful intercourse' - it is used to describe all types of sexual / vaginal pain.
Women with vaginismus have learned to expect pain during intercourse either because of a previous experience or simply imagining that sex will be painful and this causes the muscles around the vagina to tighten and close up. Usually there is no medical reason for this condition so if the emotional reasons for the vaginismus are dealt with then success is much more likely. Doctors regularly advise the use of dilators or treatment with a psychologist who specialises in sex therapy but the results are nearly always dismal. I treated a woman who was actually told by her therapist to go and get drunk and get herself laid... no wonder the sufferers of this problem feel so hopeless and dejected.
It is a fallacy that women who suffer with vaginismus don't want sex - in most cases these women yearn for it and this inability to engage in full pleasurable sex causes a huge void in their lives and places a huge strain on any relationships they may have.
Vaginismus or vaginism causing intercourse pain can have a physical cause so please have your doctor diagnose you before consulting for therapy.
Common symptoms of vaginismus
Not all women experience vaginismus in the same way. Some have very minor symptoms where sex is possible but is usually painful whereas other women may find that their partners are unable to achieve any penetration at all. Impossible penetration can mean that a marriage remains unconsummated leading to enormous shame and frustration. The woman reports that she has no control over her body and the man feels like he has run into a brick wall. This is an involuntary response with many women leading them to feeling so much shame and anguish they refuse to share their secret with anyone.
Common symptoms can be:
Pain on entry of penis
Impossibility or difficulty of penetration
Tightness or a burning sensation when having sex
Can't insert a tampon
Unable to undergo a medical examination of the pelvic region.
Is there an effective treatment for vaginismus?
Yes, there is. In the treatment of vaginismus I use only a programme that assists you in understanding how your thinking is creating the problem. When you learn to manage your thinking in an entirely new way you gain control - it may feel impossible as you're reading this but be assured it's not! Treatment usually takes between 5-6 weekly sessions and if getting to my clinic is an issue then the sessions can be conducted just as successfully via Skype.
Why not call me now and book an appointment for a free consultation. We can discuss your options so you can make an informed decision about how you'd like to deal with this condition. Discussing these very personal issues can feel very scary but I will always treat you with the utmost sensitivity and professionalism.
For about 10 years, seemingly for no reason, sex had been really painful. It hadn't always been that way, but at some point I started experiencing pain on entry. Early on I went to a gynecologist to find out what was wrong. He gave me a physical examination and dismissed my complaint, saying that I just needed more foreplay. My now husband and I tried this, but for the most part it was unsuccessful and sex was still very painful. Sex became infrequent, and it was frustrating and emotional for both of us. I was really sad that I couldn't satisfy him, and also that I couldn't let him satisfy me. I knew sex wasn't meant to be like this.
After doing some googling (I am so thankful for the internet!), I discovered that I may have vaginismus. There were a few treatment options available, mostly dilators (is this the 1950s?), special lubricants or sexual counselling. Then I found Liz's website, and I began to understand that my problem might not really be a sexual one, and so decided to contact Liz for a consultation.
When Liz explained the programme I knew I had made the right choice. If I committed to this, in just a short time, not only could I start enjoying sex again, but I could also make my life better by choosing to manage my thinking and ridding myself of the social anxiety and low self-esteem that was at the root of my problems. As a bonus I might even be able to stop myself freaking out about needles and other medical stuff, which didn't really affect me from day to day, but had been a problem since I was a child.
I finished my sessions with Liz a few weeks ago now and the changes I have made with Liz's support are more than I had thought possible before I got in touch with her. I achieved my initial goal, to enjoy sex with my husband again, but I think more importantly I learned how to let go of negative thoughts, be kind to myself, patient with others, and how to let myself be happy. I am so grateful to Liz and I am so glad that I took the time and effort to learn how to manage my thinking. It's a life changer.
I have been able to overcome vaginismus since working with you and we were blessed with a baby boy this November.
Thank you so much for the support you extended in helping me overcome vaginismus. I will always be grateful for that.
M - overseas