What is Vaginismus?

Vaginismus is the condition in which a woman is unable to allow vaginal penetration despite her desire and motivation to do so.  This situation is often related to contraction of the muscles around the vagina, which is often a manifestation of anxiety.  The source of this anxiety may be fear of pain, and hence this condition often occurs together with other painful conditions such as PVD.  While anxiety is a common characteristic of vaginismus, some women may also have conditions of the pelvic floor that make the vagina prone to excessive tightness; this may make penetrative sex impossible. 

Vaginismus is a condition which doesn’t only affect sex. Women with vaginismus are usually unable to insert tampons or undergo a vaginal exam without a great deal of distress. 

The conflict between the desire to allow penetration to occur, and the response of anxiety and tight muscles preventing this from occurring is one that many women with vaginismus describe. Treatment for vaginismus involves helping the woman overcome her fear of penetration by desensitizing and lowering the anxiety surrounding the genital area. Sex therapy for vaginismus generally combines psychotherapy with cognitive behavioral techniques. Physiotherapy is an important component as well, as it provides with hands on assistance in learning to allow penetration to occur. The experience of physiotherapy for vaginismus is gentle, and is geared towards providing techniques for relaxation of the body, the pelvic floor muscles, and overcoming anxiety.

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