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Being mindful of using nonbinary language when talking about vaginismus is a small step in the right direction. The symptoms of vaginismus can mirror many other pelvic and vaginal issues such as vulvodynia, lichen sclerosis a skin condition , and imperforate hymen. The emotional toll that it has on people is typically equal to, if not more intense than, the physical symptoms. Vaginismus is often a physical reification of past emotional trauma, meaning that symptoms beyond the physical pain can also include PTSD , anxiety, or depression. Having support while experiencing not only chronic physical pain but processing the trauma that causes vaginismus can be a key component for healing.

When someone with the condition feels out of control with their own body by not being able to stop their vaginal muscle spasms and pain level, that can have an impact on every aspect of their life. Experiencing this pain can, directly and indirectly, impact sexual and romantic relationships.

Evaluation and Comparison of Women Pelvic Floor With and Without Sexual Dysfunction (Vaginismus)

She has worked through these relationship issues with her patients by sometimes including their partner s in the treatment plan. Trusted partners can assist with vaginal dilation or pelvic massages, which in turn can build intimacy and connection within the relationship. Vaginismus is proof that our body and mind are connected and that our emotional well-being can impact our physical health.

The causes can be both emotional and physical and vary from person to person.

Additional Resources

They can include obstetrical violence, pain or trauma related to childbirth, STIs, sexual assault, and more. Emotions or trauma not related to sex can cause it, as well.

Hutcherson also names both emotional and psychological trauma as potential root causes. She explains that some people may experience secondary vaginismus, which is when the pain happens after someone has previously experienced non-painful penetration. This can be brought on by insufficient foreplay or lubricant, an unhealthy relationship, or pain from a UTI — while others may experience primary vaginismus from the first time they ever attempt to insert anything vaginally.


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A therapist can bring out things that they may not be conscious of. Because of how personal the cause is, treatment usually needs to be as well. Healing can take a combination of talk therapy, sex therapy, and physical exercises like abdominal massages or vaginal dilating. This layer of delving into the emotional cause of vaginismus before being able to heal means that treatment has no timetable, and healing can be a slow and steady process for people with this dysfunction.

Vaginismus Treatment: What I Learned Through Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy | SELF

Pleasure and sex are still definitely on the table. The first tip is to explore sex outside of vaginal penetrative play. What causes entry pain?

How to choose your vaginal dilator for vaginismus, dyspareunia, pain with sex, cancer, AIS

The most common problems contributing to entry pain include not having enough lubrication, medications that reduce sexual desire, injury or trauma, and vagnismus. A lack of lubrication can be the result of little to no foreplay, drops in estrogen levels and breast-feeding.

Spasm of Vagina or Vaginismus. (Understanding Sexual Dysfunction.)

Some high blood pressure medications, antidepressants, and birth control can also contribute to a reduction in sexual desire. Injury or trauma, such as pelvic surgery or having an episiotomy during childbirth can also cause entry pain.


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Some women experience involuntary spasms in the muscles around the vagina. This condition is called vaginismus and can also cause pain during intercourse. What causes deep pain?

DSM-IV-TR criteria

The most common problems contributing to deep pain include gynecological illness and conditions such as endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine fibroids, irritable bowel syndrome, and ovarian cysts. Surgical and medical treatments commonly cause deep pain during intercourse as well. These include scarring from pelvic surgery and cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. What are some emotional factors that can contribute to painful intercourse? Studies have shown a significant connection between sexual pain and psychiatric problems such as depression, anxiety, and self-esteem issues.

For some women, a fear of intimacy or relationship problems contribute to painful intercourse. During times of stress, the pelvic floor muscles tend to tighten and can make it difficult or painful for penetration to occur. Having a history of sexual abuse can also play a significant role in sexual dysfunction.

What is vaginismus?

Vaginismus Vaginismus is involuntary spasms of the muscles around the opening of the vagina. Despite the desire for penetration, entry of a penis, finger, or even tampon use, tight muscle contractions makes this difficult.


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