If you Google “is sex supposed to hurt,” you’ll get lots of different answers. Some research and articles suggest sex hurts for 1 in 3 women the first time, and some say it’s not supposed to hurt at all, especially after the first time. Notably, most of the top results are blog posts and teen magazines. 

What is Vaginismus?

Vaginismus is a condition involving a muscle spasm in the pelvic floor muscles. It can make it painful, difficult, or impossible to have sexual intercourse, to undergo a gynecological exam, and to insert a tampon.  Fear and anxiety concerning penetration is expressed physiologically via the involuntary vaginal muscle spasm that characterizes vaginismus. These muscles are responsible for urination, intercourse, orgasm, bowel movements and childbirth.

The basic understanding is that vaginismus is a psychosociologic disorder with phobic elements resulting from actual or imagined negative experiences with penetration attempts. The exact number of women with this condition is not known, since many women are embarrassed to discuss it with their doctor. However, it is important to openly discuss this concern with a doctor as treatments are available.

The Types Of Vaginismus You Might Be Experiencing

Primary Vaginismus

This is a lifetime condition in which the pain has always been present. It will be difficult to use a tampon and to undergo a gynecological exam. It is often experienced by women during their first attempt at intercourse. The male partner is unable to insert his penis into the vagina. He may describe a sensation like “hitting a wall” at the vaginal opening. There may be pain, generalized muscle spasms, and the woman may temporarily stop breathing. The symptoms are reversed when the attempt at vaginal entry is stopped.

Secondary Vaginismus

This develops after a woman has already experienced normal sexual function. It has not always been present. It can occur at any stage of life, and it may not have happened before. It usually stems from a specific event, such as an infection, menopause, a traumatic event, development of a medical condition, relationship issues, surgery, or childbirth. Even after any underlying medical condition is corrected, pain can continue if the body has become conditioned to respond in this way.

Global Vaginismus

Vaginismus is always present, and any object will trigger it.

Situational Vaginismus

This occurs only in certain situations. It may happen during sex but not during gynecological exams or tampon insertion. Diagnosis of vaginismus usually begins with describing your symptoms. In general, diagnosis and treatment of vaginismus requires a pelvic exam.

It’s common for women with vaginismus to be nervous or fearful about pelvic exams. If your doctor recommends a pelvic exam, you can discuss ways to make the exam as comfortable as possible for you. During the exam, your doctor will look for any sign of infection or scarring. In vaginismus, there is no physical reason for the vaginal muscles to contract. 

Can Dilators Help?

Dilator therapy can be highly beneficial—though very arduous—for many women diagnosed with pelvic pain, or specifically vaginismus. Dilators come in silicone or in plastic; the silicone is more comfortable, though more expensive. The different sizes are intended to be inserted into the vagina and to sit inside for approximately ten to 15 minutes. After working yourself up to the largest size, penetration may be possible (but still not guaranteed).

The time it takes for vaginismus to be successfully treated will depend on the individual. It is very rare that vaginismus needs surgery.


Visit A Counsellor

Education typically involves learning about your anatomy and what happens during sexual arousal and intercourse. You’ll get information about the muscles involved in vaginismus too. This can help you understand how the parts of the body work and how your body is responding.

Counselling may involve you alone or with your partner. Working with a counsellor who specializes in sexual disorders may be helpful. Relaxation techniques and hypnosis may also promote relaxation and help you feel more comfortable with intercourse.

Pelvic floor control exercises

 These include muscle contraction and relaxation activities, or Kegel exercises, to improve control of the pelvic floor muscles. To perform Kegel exercises, repeatedly tighten and relax your pelvic floor muscles, which control your vagina, rectum, and bladder.  

You can locate these muscles when you’re urinating. After you begin to urinate, stop the stream. You’re using your pelvic floor muscles to do this. You may feel them tighten and move. These muscles move as a group, so they all contract and relax at the same time.

Reducing sensitivity to insertion 

A woman will be encouraged to touch the area as close as possible to the vaginal opening every day without causing pain, moving closer each day. When she is able to touch the area around the vagina, she will be encouraged to touch and open the vaginal lips, or labia. The next step will be to insert a finger. Sometimes, taking painkillers before sexual activity may help to reduce the automatic tightening of the muscles and the fear of pain.

The time it takes for vaginismus to be successfully treated will depend on the individual. It is very rare that vaginismus needs surgery. Sexual dysfunction can take a toll on relationships. Being proactive and getting treatment can be crucial in saving a marriage or relationship.

It’s important to remember that there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Talking with your partner about your feelings and fears about intercourse may help you feel more relaxed. Your doctor or therapist can provide you with ways to overcome vaginismus gradually . Many people recover and go on to live happy sexual lives.

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