Vaginismus: causes, symptoms and possible solutions

Human sexuality has been taboo in society throughout history, its expression being socially censored and repressed.

The repression of libido and ignorance regarding the process and the different phases of the sexual response has led to the emergence and untreated various problems which have prevented the full enjoyment of desire and libidinous relationships. One of these problems is the disorder known as vaginismus.

Vaginismus: a sexual dysfunction

Vaginismus is a female sexual dysfunction, Being this type of dysfunction this group of disorders produced by an alteration of the processes of the human sexual response or the presence of pain sensations during the act.

This type of disorder can be acquired at a specific point in life or be present throughout life, and its causes can be psychological or a combination of organic and psychic variables. In addition, they can occur both in general and in the presence of specific circumstances.

main symptoms

The main symptom of this disorder is the presence of persistent and recurrent involuntary contractions over time in the vaginal muscles, And especially of the pubococcygeus muscle, which contracts and closes the entrance.

In this way, the entrance to the vagina is not accessible, so it can prevent or simply hinder (because what is prevented is penetration) the performance of sexual practices. In addition to maintaining sexual intercourse, vaginismus can affect even at the medical level, which significantly hinders the pelvic examination.

The severity of the picture of vaginismus can be very variable, and can range from a slight contraction which may not cause great difficulty to produce extensive spasms and make it completely impossible to insert an item into the vagina. Depending on the case, even the thought of inserting an object or being penetrated can cause the muscle contraction of the vaginismus. The attempt to enter this state causes deep pain.

Suffering from vaginismus does not mean that the woman who has it is not aroused or does not like the idea of ​​having sex, and it is not uncommon that in cases where the woman in question has a sufficient level of arousal and enjoys a sexual interaction. Thus, penetration is prevented, but other sexual activities remain viable.

Vaginismus tends to be chronic unless treated, and over time it can cause a true aversion to sex as the patient shuns intimacy and the ability to have sex.

Possible causes of vaginismus

Vaginismus is a sexual dysfunction that can arise from different causes. In some cases, it can result from a medical condition, such as infections, surgery, or in some cases even during menopause.

However, it is much more common that its origin is due to psychological and psychosocial circumstances, Being generally linked to experiences of fear and guilt.

1. Repressive education

The fact that he received a rigid and restrictive education in matters of sexuality influence that ideas of guilt, doubt and fear may appear before having sex, which may cause the vaginal muscles to contract.

2. Traumatic experiences

It is not uncommon for women with vaginismus to have had serious traumatic experiences related to sexuality.. People who were sexually assaulted or considered to have been committed during their childhood, people from families facing situations of gender-based violence or domestic violence, or women who have experienced rape throughout their lives are more likely to suffer from malfunctions. Such as the cause of vaginismus is fear, pain and anxiety related to the traumatic experience and associated with performing the sexual act.

3. Anxiety, guilt and doubts

As with erectile dysfunction in men, fear, guilt and anxiety about the possibility of not being able to undertake the act can cause this at the somatic level symptoms of vaginismus occur.

Possible treatments and solutions

Vaginismus can be treated with a variety of therapies. Some women consult the idea of ​​having surgery, but this method is only very useful if its causes are organic, since it does not address the problem itself and its underlying causes and in some cases even makes the condition worse. situation.

Instead, the following treatments are typically used, usually in combination.

1. Sex education

Whereas in many cases of vaginismus, people who suffer from it have had traumatic experiences or had very repressive female sexuality education., The psycheeducation and explanation of processes considered normal in intercourse is a useful tool to consider and apply. Understanding and explaining their situation and the treatments to be applied can also be a great relief for women with this problem.

2. Techniques of exposure to stimuli

One of the problems that causes and maintains the disorder, as in the vast majority of other sexual dysfunctions is anxiety, fear and insecurity caused by the occurrence of a feared phenomenonAs in this case, it is the penetration or entry of something into the vagina. The most effective way to overcome this anxiety is to systematically expose the dreaded situation. This exposure should be done gradually, using techniques such as systematic desensitization. The goal is to recognize and overcome fear step by step, to make sure that performing the act is not aversive or anxious.

As we said, the process should be gradual and can start with the visual self-observation itself and continue with the tactile exploration of the genital area, then you can proceed to the use of dilators, hands spouse, etc. until the sexual act is performed.

3. Strength training

One of the most common treatments for vaginismus is perform pelvic floor muscle control techniques, learn to contract and relax them, Increase in muscle tone and control of the pelvic area. In this way, the patient can have a greater sense of control and engage in sexual activity in a safer manner.

Training the pubococcygeus muscle in Kegel exercises is usually the most common procedure.

4. Use of vaginal dilators

Another mechanism for treating vaginismus is the use of vaginal dilators. The use of these instruments, applied in a graduated manner, reduces fear and anxiety about penetration, while strengthening the pelvic muscles.

5. Involve the couple

Vaginismus is a disorder that can be a real source of both psychological and physical suffering for those who suffer from it, limiting intimacy with the partner and in the long run a woman’s self-esteem and self-concept. That is why it is necessary that the person with whom the relations are maintainedIf you are an established couple, be aware of the problem and receive advice on how to deal with the situation and help your loved one.

Bibliographical references:

  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fifth edition. DSM-V. Masson, Barcelona.
  • Hawton, K. and Catalan, J. (1990). Sex therapy for vaginismus: characteristics of couples and the result of treatment. Sexual and marriage therapy, 5, 39-48
  • Pages, FJ (1994). Sexual dysfunctions. Madrid: Foundation of the University of Commerce
  • Masters, WH and Johnson, VE (1970). Human sexual insufficiency. Boston: Little Brown (Spanish version: intermediate, Madrid, 1976).
  • Rosen, RC and Leiblum, SR (1995). Treatment of sexual disorders in the 1990s: an integrated approach. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 63, 877-890.

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