9 Steps to Overcoming Vaginismus
Vaginismus is a psychosomatic pain disorder characterized by the inability, or great difficulty, with vaginal penetrations: finger, tampons, vaginal applicator, gynecologic examination, and sexual intercourse. Vaginismus is a vagina-in-panic. Overcoming vaginismus is the process of restoring vaginal function. Watch our short video, What is vaginismus?
Although included in the broader categories of sexual pain disorders, female sexual dysfunction, and pelvic floor dysfunction, vaginismus is much more than just about sex: it is about owning and using all vaginal penetrations without pain or distress.
Every woman who suffers from vaginismus would like to completely overcome vaginismus so she can move on with life in a “normal, healthy” manner. This applies to women with primary vaginismus (= always had it) as well as to women with secondary vaginismus (= it developed later).
Yes, vaginismus can be overcome and you can be cured if you find the right intervention that works for you
What is the right intervention? It is vaginismus treatment that addresses the tight, nervous pelvic floor and the anxiety that provokes that tightness.
Women with a mild form of vaginismus, when the anxiety about vaginal penetration can be successfully self-managed, may be able to self-treat. But for the rest, the right intervention is a treatment with outcome projection and a timeline for getting there.
How do you know that you have vaginismus? Can you tell that you have vaginismus? What are the signs of having vaginismus?
Most women know that “something is not working” with the vagina even if the term vaginismus is not in their vocabulary.
- They know because the thought of something in the vagina is distressing or overwhelming;
- They know because they tried to use a tampon and it did not work for them, not even after hours of trying and friends encouraging from behind the closed door;
- They know because they cannot undergo a gynecologic examination;
- They know because they felt ‘the wall’ when the penis tried to get in (unless they have a rigid hymen, which is not that common);
- They know because they had a hymenectomy and still cannot use their vagina;
- They know because they were told that ‘everything looks normal’ yet they cannot use their vagina in a normal, healthy way.
In other words, vaginismus is typically self-diagnosed or at least suspected. A visit with a gynecologist or with a vaginismus specialist will validate the diagnosis.
When we began treating vaginismus back in 1996, the Internet was in its infancy, and the only search engine available was Ask Jeeves, a primitive service yet suitable for the limited online presence at that time. Finding information about vaginismus was nearly impossible in those days unless you dove into medical or professional literature and were satisfied with the one or two grossly erroneous paragraphs about it.
It is definitely different nowadays, and we encourage you to embark on educating yourself by searching on YouTube for information about vaginismus, as well as on the Internet for its causes, treatment options, prevalence, and testimonials.
A word of caution: make sure to sort out reliable and factual sources from the rest so you can make good decisions about your next step.
There are many support groups for vaginismus, each with its own purpose and mission. The choice is yours which to join provided you feel comfortable there, and that it meets your needs, including dispelling the beliefs that you are THE ONLY ONE with vaginismus, and that you need to ‘learn to live with it.’
Our closed support group, Vaginismus, A Private Pain is on Facebook, and inclusion is by request. We have over 1700 members as of March 2022, many of whom were/are our patients, and others who have not or may never be for different logistic reasons. The members are from around the world, from all religions and cultural backgrounds, all ages and educational levels. Some are single, others are partnered or married.
By joining our group, you will have the opportunity to learn more about vaginismus, to meet others with the conditions, hear about their experience with our treatment, and get support.
By now you know you have vaginismus, you are learning about the condition, and now it is time to consider treatment in order to cure the condition, why live like this?
Inquiring with your healthcare provider can be quite valuable. They may know of reliable vaginismus experts and may have even shared patients with them. Or they may reach out to colleagues on your behalf to come up with a lead or a recommendation.
Make sure to not only thank them for the recommendation, but also to loop back with them with your input and results: you want them to get proper feedback – good or bad – for their own knowledge, and for helping others like you going forward.
Since there are far and few proven vaginismus experts, your healthcare provider may not have a lead for you. Nonetheless, don’t give up and keep searching (see Step 6, below).
When contacting a vaginismus expert, do not shy from thoroughly checking them out – you want an expert, right?
Ask them the following questions and get a feel for who they are and what they offer:
- How many vaginismus patients do they see per week, per month?
- How long is each session?
- How many treatment sessions will be needed?
- Is there care and support between sessions? What kind?
- What is their treatment approach?
- How do they define treatment success?
- What is their vaginismus cure rate?
If you like what you heard, schedule an appointment and see how it goes:
- Are you making daily progress?
- Can you see a successful end to the treatment?
- Is the clinician getting frustrated with your vaginismus?
- Do they tell you that you are progressing but you are not seeing that?
Do not hesitate to move on if you are not getting what you want. Vaginismus is an anxiety-based condition and treatment that brings on more stress, tension, frustration, and dissatisfaction will not be of help, but rather will hinder your recovery. You are not obligated to stay with them if it does not work for you!
Not able to find a local vaginismus specialist? Not happy with the local vaginismus services you found? Someone told you of a specialist elsewhere? Time to expand your search instead of resigning to living with this devastating condition.
It is unfortunate that there aren’t vaginismus specialists in every corner of the world. We receive such cries for help on a regular basis from women worldwide who cannot travel to us for various reasons and are disheartened to be stuck without a solution.
While traveling to a specialist may seem daunting at first, the outcome is well worth the effort. So do not shy from exploring such an option, including checking out our 2-week vaginismus treatment program option.
If you decide to attempt self-treatment with dilators, order them online and follow included instructions.
Make sure you give it a good go, but seek a vaginismus specialist if you are not making progress within a reasonable length of time (1-2 months?).
Network, share, speak with others – you never know who will become a valuable link between your vaginismus and a cure.
Because vaginismus is so prevalent, by speaking with others you may connect with someone who went through treatment, or who knows someone that did – we have encountered numerous stories like that.
Vaginismus is not a deadly condition but it will surely “kill” your spirit and your sense of being a ‘normal woman.’ Vaginismus will also force a compromise upon your sexual and intimate relationship, with each partner coping with it in their own way: accepting, tolerating, pushing for treatment, rejecting, or ending the relationship.
Do not settle for living with vaginismus – it is a curable condition!
Patience and either expert guidance or self-help are needed to merge the vagina and the mind into a harmonious relationship that can withstand the test of time, which defines ‘overcoming vaginismus.’