Vaginismus -- it is about life, not just sex...
the following citation (credits) if you quote us:
Katz D, Tabisel RL. (Article Name). Available at www.womentc.com
Last accessed (today's date).
What is vaginismus?
Do you have questions about vaginismus? Our closed discussion group on Facebook offers a safe environment to learn more.
Vaginismus is the instantaneous, involuntary tightening of the pelvic floor muscles in anticipation of vaginal penetration. This reaction will occur if penetration is perceived as upsetting, painful (even before attempting it!) frightening, or dangerous, making the body scream out loud, "NO ENTRY!" Occasionally, vaginismus will be caused by a physical problem such as a birth defect, or surgery. Either way, it is a vagina in panic…
There are two types of vaginismus -- we treat them both:
Primary vaginismus is when the woman was never able to have vaginal penetrations. This type of vaginismus is the main focus of the information on our website.
Secondary vaginismus is when the woman lost the ability to have vaginal penetration such as after gynecologic surgery, in postmenopause, after radiation, etc. Although these women will remember that penetrations used to be fine, they are now faced with painful/impossible intercourse and gynecologic exams. The cause for their secondary vaginismus is the loss of lubrication and elasticity in the vagina, making them feel just as isolated and hopeless as those with primary vaginismus.
For the woman, being trapped within herself with the painful symptoms of vaginismus brings about the feelings of panic and anxiety, of being "stuck with it forever", of feeling inadequate and "the only one who suffers from this…"
Partners suffer as well, feeling frustrated, helpless, rejected and inadequate. Inaccurate sexual information and the lack of understanding of the woman's body will worsen the crisis, often leading to alienation and even break-ups.
Diagnosing vaginismus is quite simple. It requires identifying an inability, or great difficulty, with one or more of the following Five Penetrations of LifeSM
- Intercourse (or use of penis-size dildo)
- Gynecologic exam
Typically, intercourse will not be possible even if she can have the other penetrations. In other words, a woman may not be able to have any of the five penetrations; or she may be able to have four of those five penetrations, with intercourse being the missing one; or she may have any combination in between
Women with primary vaginismus fall into two categories:
- Those who can self-treat with education, encouragement, and/or self-help home (dilator) kits obtained from their doctors, counselors, the Internet, sex shops, etc. Read Christiane's story.
- Those who cannot cure their vaginismus on their own and need further intervention in the form of individualized treatment by clinicians with knowledge and expertise in treating vaginismus. Read Nabs' story or listen (RealPlayer) to Jessie's story.
We are a professional healthcare practice offering treatment to the latter group, the women who are not able to self-treat. We also provide treatment for women with secondary vaginismus.
Our intervention utilizes the successful DiRoss Methodologysm. The treatment is practical, focused, short-term, and individualized. Both clinicians are present so that any emotional and/or physical concern may be addressed right on the spot. A typical session is 50-55 minutes long and dedicated to the particular needs of the patient. Although we may introduce you to other patients as they come and go, the treatment itself is never done in a group.
We offer two treatment options:
- A weekly (or a speedier twice-weekly) program for those who live within a reasonable travel distance.
- A concentrated 2-week program for those who live far away.
Typical questions that are being asked about our treatment programs include:
- What is the treatment all about? Read our FAQs about our treatment.
- Is the treatment covered by insurance? Read our Insurance page.
- What if I do not have a sexual partner? The treatment is suitable for single women as well as for those with a partner because the process is about "owning" the vagina and making it work for all penetrations, not just for sexual intercourse. And, the cure will be there even if the first intercourse will not happen for a year or longer after the conclusion of the treatment, as has been the case with many of our former patients.
- Does the treatment process include the use of medications? Not usually. The majority of our patients complete their treatment program without the need for medication, and we certainly encourage this venue. However, if the woman's anxiety is so severe that it prevents her from proceeding with the treatment, then an anti-anxiety medication will be prescribed by her physician for the short-term use necessary to move on with the treatment. Just about every one of our patients is off the medication by the end of the treatment process, and there is no issue with addiction/side effects because of the short duration of use.
- Once I complete the treatment, will the cure last? Yes, it will because you will have no reason to fear penetrations any longer. However, keep in mind that you will need to follow a (simple) home program for a specified length of time to ensure the permanency of the cure. Click here to read our Blog post about this.
- Are your statistics accurate? Yes, they are. We do not alter any outcome nor hide incomplete results.
- The testimonials are all positive -- what is your failure rate? Vaginismus can be cured unless the woman drops out of the treatment process, which accounts for 5% of the cases. We know exactly who dropped out and for what reason because we keep statistics for every vaginismus case that we ever saw. The main two reasons for quitting are fear of being touched and financial considerations, with the "quitting" meaning that the woman never returned after the initial consultation. Other (uncommon) reasons include spousal abuse and/or severe emotional crises that prevented the continuation of the program.