Vaginismus is a condition that affects many women, yet it is often not talked about openly coping with vaginismus is not easy. Vaginismus is characterized by a painful spasm of the vaginal muscles, making intercourse – and even inserting a tampon and having a pelvic exam – difficult or impossible. This can lead to feelings of shame, embarrassment, and isolation.
Please remember: you are not alone, and there are ways to cope with and overcome vaginismus. This blog post will break the silence and explore what vaginismus is its causes, and ways to manage and treat it. We encourage you to take control of your body and life and understand that you are not defined by this condition.
Introduction to Vaginismus and its Effects
Vaginismus is not a life-threatening condition, yet it surely threatens every aspect of life: the woman’s self-esteem and trust in her body, her relationship, life’s decisions, sexual intimacy, gynecologic medical care, and more. In other words, vaginismus is a distressing condition that can easily ruin one’s life and quality of life.
Vaginismus is always an anxiety-based condition, making its diagnosis and treatment challenging and complicated. Watch our short video What is vaginismus?
Not all women with anxiety will develop vaginismus, but every vaginismus has anxiety as an undertone, and often also any combination of panic, rumination, OCD, and depression. Truth is, admitting to suffering from any of these emotional issues is not something women are keen on admitting, which makes vaginismus even more secretive and difficult to diagnose and treat. So many told us that they wished ‘it was a physical problem that can be fixed with an injection or surgery…’
Identifying the Symptoms of Vaginismus
Vaginismus can manifest itself in different ways, and the symptoms can vary from woman to woman. Common symptoms include tightness or burning sensation in the vaginal area, difficulty or pain during penetration, and fear or anxiety about intercourse. Some women may also experience muscle spasms or contractions in the vaginal area, making any type of vaginal insertion, including tampons or pelvic exams, difficult or impossible. It is important to note that these symptoms may not always be present, and some women may only experience pain or difficulty during penetration.
Coping Strategies for Daily Life with Vaginismus
Living and coping with vaginismus can be challenging, but there are ways to manage the condition and improve your quality of life. Here are some coping strategies to consider:
- Seek therapy: Talking to a therapist can help you work through any emotional or psychological issues contributing to your condition and assist with searching for treatment options.
- Gradual dilation therapy: This technique involves gradually inserting increasingly larger dilators into the vagina to help desensitize the area and reduce muscle tension.
- Educate yourself: Learning about vaginismus and its causes can help you better understand your condition and feel more in control.
- Communicate with your partner: Open communication can help them understand what you’re going through and how they can support you.
The Importance of Emotional Support in Dealing with Vaginismus
Emotional support is a crucial aspect of coping with vaginismus and can play a vital role in healing and recovery.
Dealing with vaginismus can be a difficult and isolating experience. It can cause feelings of embarrassment, shame, and loss of self-esteem. These emotional challenges can make it difficult for a person to seek help and support. However, it is important to understand that vaginismus is a common condition that can be treated with the right support.
Emotional support can come in many forms, including therapy, counseling, or support groups. A therapist or counselor can provide a safe and non-judgmental space for a person to discuss their feelings and experiences related to vaginismus. Support groups can also provide a sense of community and validation, allowing individuals to connect with others going through a similar experience.
In addition to professional support, friends and loved ones can also play an important role in providing emotional support. They can be a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, and a source of encouragement. It is important for them to be understanding and non-judgmental and to provide support without trying to fix the problem.
Building a Support System for Vaginismus
The first step in building a support system for coping with vaginismus is to reach out to healthcare professionals, especially those who are vaginismus experts, such as us at the Women’s Therapy Center. Other professionals include gynecologists, physical therapists, or sexual counselors, with the goal of providing guidance and treatment options to help manage symptoms and improve sexual function.
Another important aspect of building a support system is finding vaginismus support groups, or online communities, of other women who struggle with vaginismus. These groups can provide a sense of community, validation, and a safe space to share your experiences and learn from others. They can also be a great source of information and resources.
Exploring Treatment Options for Vaginismus
We at the Women’s Therapy Center specialize in addressing vaginismus, for which we have developed a proprietary and proven treatment methodology. We provide a comprehensive approach to treatment that addresses physical, emotional, and relationship issues that may be contributing to the condition.
We have three options for our vaginismus treatment programs:
- A robust two week vaginismus treatment program
In 1998, in response to the demand for a more accessible treatment option, our clinic introduced a 2-week vaginismus treatment program specifically designed to address vaginismus. As the pioneers of this program, it has since become the most established and successful of its kind, with a long history of successfully helping thousands of women from all over the world overcome the condition. Our unique approach, developed and refined over the years, cannot be found anywhere else, ensuring that your experience with our program will be truly one-of-a-kind, customized to your vaginismus.
- A robust two week vaginismus treatment program
- A weekly program
This option is for those that live closer. You can come to us once or twice weekly if you choose, and our schedule allows it. The entire treatment process takes 7-10 sessions, with each session lasting about 45-55 minutes. You pay per session.
- A weekly program
- A hybrid option: stay in the area for one month and be treated 2-3 times per week under the same pattern of the weekly program above.
Overcoming the Stigma Surrounding Vaginismus
Unfortunately, there is a stigma surrounding vaginismus and coping with vaginismus, making it difficult for sufferers to seek help and treatment.
Overcoming that stigma must be done through education and awareness. It is important to understand that vaginismus is not a choice but a medical condition that can be treated. By educating others and sharing personal stories, sufferers can help to reduce the shame and embarrassment associated with the condition.
It is also important for sufferers of vaginismus to remember that they are not alone. Support groups and online forums can provide a sense of community and validation for those dealing with the condition.
Conclusion: Living & Coping with Vaginismus, and Finding Hope
Living and coping with vaginismus is rough and sad: feeling stuck and hopeless, experiencing pain when trying vaginal penetration, believing she betrays the partner by not being able to have intercourse and get pregnant naturally, needing to hide from family (i.e., so, when are you going to have a baby?), disappointed by lack of solutions from the medical field, and believing she is the ‘only one’ with vaginismus…
Most will search the Internet for answers and treatment options that include dilator use, sexual counseling, pelvic floor physical therapy, Botox injections, advice to ‘just take alcohol or smoke pot,’ and many other useless and erroneous suggestions. Watch this video about Vaginismus Treatment Misconceptions.
When first meeting with a vaginismus patient – we have treated over 2100 as of this publication date – they will often tell us that they ‘did every treatment out there but to no avail.’ No wonder they are emotionally deflated.
Our proprietary vaginismus treatment is a game changer, and it always delights us to see the positive transformation as the woman gains ownership of her vagina and of her life. The Empowerment is amazing, a clear contrast to the above sadness of living with vaginismus.