(310)963-4216 | Natalie@CreatingChangeLA.com
Vaginismus is a condition in which the muscles in the vagina tighten or tense up during sex or insertion. This can happen prior to sex, upon entry, or during sex. Some women even experience this with the use of tampons. It can make sex painful, and in some cases it can make sex impossible. The pain can be mild, to moderate, to severe. This condition can be very frustrating and a source of shame for a lot of women. It can lead to feeling like you have a lack of control over your body, as well as create tensions with your partner.
Participating in vaginismus therapy can provide tools to address the shame and frustration, and to help reduce and eliminate the clenching response so you can reconnect with your body. Vaginismus can have physical origins (infection, muscle tone, lack of lubrication), psychological origins (stress, anxiety, depression, fear), or can be rooted in traumatic experiences (sexual assault, rigid family beliefs around sex, inappropriate comments about your body). As you can see in the diagram, there can be a very cyclical nature to Vaginismus. If you’ve had painful sex, your body will anticipate it to be painful again. This will prompt your body to clench up the next time you have sex in anticipation of the pain. Once your body “learns” to do this, it has to then “unlearn” it. A skilled sex therapist can help you through this process with patience and understanding. Please note, it is always helpful to have a medical exam to make sure nothing organic is causing your Vaginismus. A great resource to consider is Vaginismus.com if you would like to learn more about the condition.
Sex therapy for vaginismus is a multi-faceted process. It includes learning to identify the moments of tension or clenching, relaxation exercises, and removing some of the mental blocks that may have you “protecting” yourself from intrusion. Vaginismus therapy may also encourage the use of dilators and can teach you techniques to use them effectively. Treatment may include collaborating with a gynecologist or pelvic floor physical therapist.