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Hyperactive Gag Reflex, and Vaginismus

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What can possibly be the connection, you may ask? Read on.

The Gag reflex is an instinctual (reflex) closure of the back of the throat.  Its purpose is to prevent choking as well as to prevent substance from going into the airways.  It is a protective reflex.

Vaginismus is a instinctual (reflex) closure of the vaginal opening for the purpose of  preventing penetration.  It is perceived as a protective reflex but, in reality, it is not because vaginal penetrations can always be forced (not a good thing to do!).

Both the Gag reflex and the vaginal opening should remain quiet and open during ‘normal’ operation.  However, anxiety may interfere and make them go into hyperactivity.  In other words, both reflexes become a somatic (anxiety) tool for managing fear of passage-through.

Clinical fact: many of our vaginismus patients also have an overactive Gag reflex that makes them struggle with swallowing pills.

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