WOW physio is welcoming all wonderful Women to Women’s Health week 2020. Today we are going to talk about Vaginismus. So, what is Vaginismus?
Vaginismus is a very painful and distressing medical condition where the muscles of the vagina tighten and tense or contract or spasm suddenly in anticipation of pain, fear and anxiety. It makes penetrative intercourse very painful, unsuccessful and often impossible. It is both an emotional and physiological response to pain. Usually patients describe burning, tearing kind of sensation and often cannot use tampons or any have any kind of gynaecological examinations such as Pap smear and vaginal ultrasounds.
It is important to be aware that this muscular spasm is happening automatically and patients don’t have control over, but because it is such a sensitive /taboo topic, patients don’t talk to anyone about this. It can cause distress, upset and relationship problems and it can make it difficult to have children. Most of the women with vaginismus often feel alone and isolated thinking that they are only experiencing this problem which is not true. Full recovery and achievement of pain free intercourse is definitely possible.
Types of Vaginismus
1 Primary: This is more common and when the vaginal penetration is unsuccessful including tampons and any gynaecological examinations.
2 Secondary: this is when you were successful with pain free penetration before but now experiencing pain due to other issues like child birth, gynaecological surgeries and after any vaginal infection.
What causes Vaginismus?
Sometimes there is no explanation why vaginismus has occurred. There may be some fear or anxiety around penetrative intercourse. There might be an experience that is traumatic or painful history in the past.
The good news is that vaginismus is a treatable medical condition and the treatment depends on the cause and it needs to be tailored according to the patient’s goals. It is important to manage the feelings of pain, fear and anxiety around penetrative intercourse and sometimes treatment needs to be focused on identifying and understanding and changing those negative perceptions about body image and penetrative intercourse.
Before treatment it is important to ensure that there are no other medical conditions such as infections, structural abnormalities or inflammatory skin conditions which may contribute to pain during attempted penetration of the vagina.
The treatment is aimed at relaxing the tension in the pelvic floor muscles. Retraining the pelvic floor muscles can be achieved through desensitisation and biofeedback devices. Desensitisation techniques allow a woman to take conscious control of the pelvic floor muscles. This can be achieved by pelvic floor down training exercises and vaginal dilators.