Sex Ed: How Women Overcome Vaginismus

VaginismusWhen a woman has vaginismus, her vagina’s muscles squeeze or spasm when something is entering her, like a tampon or a penis. It can be mildly uncomfortable, or it can be painful. There are exercises a woman can do that can help, sometimes within weeks. vaginismus

Symptoms
Painful sex is often a woman’s first sign that she has vaginismus. The pain happens only with penetration. It usually goes away after withdrawal, but not always. Women have described the pain as a tearing sensation or a feeling like the man is “hitting a wall.” Many women who have vaginismus also feel discomfort when inserting a tampon or during a doctor’s internal pelvic exam.

Causes
Doctors don’t know exactly why vaginismus happens. It’s usually linked to anxiety and fear of having sex. But it’s unclear which came first, the vaginismus or the anxiety. Some women have vaginismus in all situations and with any object. Others have it only in certain circumstances, like with one partner but not others, or only with sexual intercourse but not with tampons or during medical exams.

Other medical problems like infections can also cause painful intercourse. So it’s important to see a doctor to determine the underlying cause of pain during sex.

Treatment
dilatorsWomen with vaginismus can do exercises, in the privacy of their own home, to learn to control and relax the muscles around the vagina. The approach is called progressive desensitization, and the idea is to get comfortable with insertion.

First, do Kegel exercises by squeezing the same muscles you use to stop the flow of urine when urinating:

Squeeze the muscles.
Hold for 2 seconds.
Relax the muscles.
Do about 20 Kegels at a time. You can do them as many times a day as you want to.

After a few days, insert one finger, up to about the first knuckle joint, inside the vagina while doing the exercises. It’s a good idea to clip your fingernails first and use a lubricating jelly. Or do the exercises in a bathtub, where water is a natural lubricant.

Start with one finger and work your way up to three. You’ll feel the vagina’s muscles contracting around your finger, and you can always take your finger out if you’re not comfortable.

For women whose vaginismus is related to fear or anxiety, therapy helps.

Read below a pretty detailed explanation below by “Lasharena” on how vaginismus affects a woman’s sex life, and how she got through it. 

VAGINISMUS1Hey Everyone, I’m a 26 year old female, been sexually active since I was 15.  I know this is long – but this is a big topic. I tried to make it as overview/scroll through friendly as possible.

I’ve had vaginismus practically my whole sexual life. The only times it didn’t hurt were “first times” with new partners. I think the adrenaline and excitement of the first time was strong enough to overcome my issue, but subsequent times seemed to hurt. Didn’t matter if it was casual or for love, a big penis or small penis. Hell – I didn’t even wear tampons because they were so uncomfortable! I’ve been with my fiance for almost 7 years – and he’s been loving and supportive the whole time (although I’m sure he had hopes for more frequent sex, he never pushed me or made me feel bad).

imagesMy issues. I used to fear that I was just physically “too small” to take a penis without pain (this ended up being NOT TRUE – vaginas stretch a LOT when the muscles can relax). My parents were both very loving to me and to each other but we never talked about sex and I never saw more than quick kisses between them. I always carried around that guilt when I would sexually explore myself as a normal teenager. I couldn’t NOT masturbate, but literally had panic attacks if I thought my parents would find out. (I had a strong sex drive, so I did explore and become active, but I never got over theguilt until this year). Unfortunately, I only explored externally. I was too chicken to “dive in” and see what it felt like to have something inside me. My first partner, while it started OK, turned very abusive. He pulled the guilt card ALL THE TIME until one day he masturbated over me while I was crying. Then that kinda become the norm. (just explaining the emotional background. I also recently realized I’m a sub, and that is one reason I had so much trouble breaking off that first relationship).

About 6 weeks ago, I made my breakthrough!! I’ve gone through a roller coaster of emotions: Happiness – for myself, for my fiance. Relief – I never thought I’d get there. Fear – insecurities around my performance rose up. Because I couldn’t perform, I forced those insecurities out of my head. But now that I could, would my fiance expect me to suddenly be like a porn star? (No – he’s great 😉 )

vaginismus_0Benefits Increased sexual self-esteem. Increased non-sexual self-esteem. More communication about sex with my partner, more experimentation with my partner. I think our love has grown even stronger simply from the increased communication and intimate contact. Stress relief. WAY increased libido now that my body can see it actually feels good. And it’s just plain FUN!!

Again, sorry this is so long – I consider myself an “extreme” case because I had SOOOO many factors contributing to the problem, but here is everything (in brief) that got me where I am today. These are not in chronological order. Some tactics I had to repeat, some I am still continuing, and others I only needed to touch on once and I was good. Try everything you can think of that will help you– it can’t hurt you You may slide back a step, but you will learn and the next attempt will be better.

Vaginismus (1)Don’t have PiV sex. Your partner may get frustrated, but if you include them on your journey they should be supportive in any way you need. The point here is to NOT re-trigger the vaginismus before you have healed from it. Find other ways to play. Get your man a masturbation toy that feels like a vagina. Get used to having sexual contact with your partner without the creeping thought of “If only I could have intercourse for his sake”. Learn to enjoy yourself without any pressure for performing a certain act/way. Too many nights I hid the pain from my fiance so that I could “give” him something he needed. But as soon as he realized it did hurt, he backed off immediately. (We had a lot of nights of just mutual masturbation, ejaculating outside of my body).

vaginismTalk with your partner. After our first breakthrough, I realized I had repressed for years many of my adolescent fears and insecurities around sex that could have been adding to my inability to relax. Personally, we had to work through my fears of being replaced by porn, being subconsciously compared to the “perfect” looking porn stars, fear of him losing attraction as I aged. While I trusted my fiance loved me unconditionally, I realized I didn’t trust his male sexuality. I didn’t understand it. I can appreciate a man is handsome, but I have no urge to see him naked. I was so afraid he would love me forever but stop being sexually attracted to me. I had to talk and emotionally learn (I knew this mentally for years but it doesn’t always translate to the heart). But our talks reassured me greatly, and really opened my eyes to how well he treated me physically and emotionally. He never ridiculed my fears or opinions, but tried to educate me through them. I never realized I was holding back that last grain of trust, but now I trust him completely (and now we indulge in some Dom/sub kink play, but that is another story. 😉 ) Continue to talk throughout the process. Ask any questions, let them ask questions. Allow them to celebrate your successes with you. You’ll grow closer as a couple, if there is any love between you.

OBGYN. – Exams HURT me – to the point of tears. Doctors didn’t understand. They didn’t believe I was too small. They don’t really touch on this area. But what DID help was changing my birth control. The daily pill floods your body with hormones, depressing your sex drive and other side effects. I changed to the Nuvaring, which is more localized and doesn’t depress sex drive as much. The other benefit of Nuvaring was now I had to actually mess around INSIDE me. In a non-sexual manner (that helped, no pressure, just maintaining my womanly medication). My vagina just needed to learn that activity can happen down there without pain, without the pressure of another person, without the pressure of masturbation. I had to get used to just feeling.

Sex therapist (Psychologist). OK, I saw one during college to get over high school abuse. That helped me get over the rape issues. Then last year I went to another (ended up being the first therapist’s wife) over my “dirty” fantasies and anxiety around sex in general. A good therapist is WORTH THE MONEY. It’s the rest of your life – don’t worry about the price if you can get in. I didn’t need to go more than a handful of times (depends on your need) but she helped point out key issues that I only need chew on a while before I realized how it was helpful. And they were SO helpful. She mostly helped me deal with feeling VULNERABLE (my particular issue). Your issue may be different, but a good therapist will help you find it and conquer it.

81061(Self) Physical Therapy. After working with Nuvaring a while, I tried my 3rd round (of attempts) at using a Dilator. The first 2 rounds didn’t work because I didn’t really know what I was trying to accomplish, or how to do it. Dilators are great but not much out there on direct instruction. The biggest advice I have is to not push too fast. It took me multiple sessions each time to work up to the next size. I found it most helpful to use when NOT horny (like the shower, or a random moment alone at home)- sex put too much pressure on me. When it wasn’t sex related, I had less pressure on me, and I was more relaxed. Use a good lube – and don’t think of it as stretching a muscle. You’re just trying to get the muscle to relax – if there is pain STOP, pull out, and only go back in when it doesn’t hurt. Once I was comfortable working up to the biggest size (still started on the smallest each session, I didn’t jump right in), I started incorporating it into foreplay. I was able to step up in size comfortably before he would go in, and there wasn’t the sudden size shock I had before. And my fiance found it was really HOT! He hadn’t thought watching me do that would be sexy, but it really turned him on! 🙂

Self Esteem (General). I didn’t really get rolling until I started to accept myself as a whole. I stopped “faking” it at work and just started being my awkward, goofy self. Maybe that’s why I’m now more comfortable with my kinky self. Just remember, as long as you aren’t hurting anyone, you’re meeting your responsibilities, WHO CARES what makes you happy. Being happy with myself was a key point to being happy sexually. I’ve found that both have fed an increase in the other, in a pleasant upwards spiral. So beware that you do not let it become a reverse, downwards spiral.

The Birds and the Bees. My parents were/are loving, still together, wholesome. I’m an only child. I had a very sexually-sterile childhood and always felt ashamed should my parents catch me being sexual. So, after much of the above “therapy” completed, I decided I needed a real sex talk. I first called my mom and talked through things in the female perspective. Didn’t even think to call my dad until a week later. (Related to guilt – I needed “permission” to be sexual. Talking openly with my parents and them not reacting badly was my “permission”). My father said a lot of the same things my fiance said, but in the way only your Father can say and so was helpful and reinforcing in that way.

Talk to a female friend. I recently made a new friend at work who is very sex-positive and was willing to talk to me about almost anything. Sometimes I ran fears by her first before talking to my fiance about them. It helps to get a female perspective on open sexuality if this is something you struggle with.

Talk to a male friend. OK, I haven’t done this since I really don’t have opposite gender friends anymore, but I want to see a male therapist for the same purpose. I had the talks with my fiance and my father, who both love me very much and try not to hurt my feelings. I want a more objective male perspective, hoping they also reinforce previous conversations. For some reason I’m better able to believe things when NOT told to me by someone I know would do anything to protect my feelings.

Online Community. Reading through posts in here, twoXchromosomes, and BDSM community was also a big help to my recovery. I could read stories of others having the same problems or desires, so I didn’t feel so alone or weird. I found Reddit to be far more SUPPORTIVE than I ever would have thought. It helped me to open up to my sexual wants and kinks, and love myself for them. I found DDlg (a subcategory of Dom/sub) and when we started exploring I didn’t just feel like this was fun, I really felt like I found my home. My fiance was always my “Daddy” (strong male, supportive figure, my guiding light and my rock, always making sure I took care of myself) even if we didn’t realize it before. So read, ask questions, share – far more people will have positive feedback than the few jerk “trolls” who hate themselves and try to make everyone else hate themselves.

So remember, it is a fluid evolving process that should be tailored to meet your needs. If you don’t know where to start, I recommend opening up the topic with your partner and find a good therapist right away. They can help you create an action plan and get you thinking about things differently, which may open up to ideas not included in this posting.

It IS possible, I know you can do it!  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *