Althealth

Frigidity - Vaginismus

Vaginismus

What Is It

Long defined as an involuntary spasm of the muscles surrounding the vagina, making intercourse impossible, vaginismus is a relatively rare condition. As such, it is a reflex response, not a willed "closing off" by the woman. It may, however, actually be more common if the definition were expanded to include involuntary muscle spasms that cause a narrowing of the vaginal opening, which still permits intercourse but causes it to be painful or uncomfortable. Often the source of vaginismus is rooted in trauma: sexual assault; painful, perhaps immature intercourse; difficult pelvic exam; and emotional trauma regarding sex (feeling that it is "dirty" to enjoy sex). It can also be caused by a medical condition, such as pelvic inflammatory disease.

Symptoms

The primary symptom is difficult and uncomfortable or impossible penetration of the vagina.

What Your Doctor Looks For

Your doctor looks for involuntary contraction of the muscles of the outer third of the vagina, making the opening too narrow to permit intercourse.

prevention

Acknowledge the problem before it damages your relationship or marriage.

Treatment

Vaginismus is most commonly treated with progressive vaginal dilation and, if necessary, a combination of counseling or couples therapy. progressive vaginal dilation involves the use of vaginal inserts, each progressively larger than the last, which help condition the vaginal opening. As one becomes comfortable, the next larger size is inserted in the vagina and worn until it is comfortable. This continues until the vagina has been dilated sufficiently for intercourse to take place painlessly.

In some cases, simultaneous counseling will assist a woman in uncovering the basis of the disorder. The counseling will aim to alleviate anxiety or guilt or other factors that may exacerbate vaginismus.

When To Call Your Doctor

Call the doctor if you suspect your vaginismus is related to a pelvic disorder. If you believe that your condition is emotional in origin, seek counseling from a therapist trained in dealing with sexual disorders.

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