Hey, Lovelies, I’m sincerely happy you landed here! I hope you all have enjoyed and gotten all your #HotGirl summer activities out of your system. As for me, I’m still trying to recover from seeing Beyonce and KeKe Palmer doing a switcharoo on us with her baby daddy. Now, I’m ready for #ReclusiveGirl fall so I can hide and read books in peace (but check on me cause I have seasonal depression). So, I have endometriosis (thanks dad and Aunt Bert) and had surgery for it in March, and I’m about to begin my pelvic floor physiotherapy journey for much-needed relief. Being the nerd that I am, I did a deep dive into pelvic floor disorders and came across Vaginismus. Now I know what it is, but I wanted to see how many other women know about the condition, so I went to my friend group. Chile one of them said it sounded like a vagina superhero. After I giggled, I knew I wanted to share more information and resources with my internet friends. So, let’s get into it!
Did You Know?
- 1 in 10 women and vagina owners have vaginismus, but it is very common and underdiagnosed due to underreporting.
- 15% of women and vagina owners report that they experience dyspareunia (painful sex) regularly.
- 53% of women and vagina owners who have vaginismus are between the ages of 26 and 35.
What is Vaginismus?
The vagina is the world’s eighth wonder and should be called the wonder down under for all that it can do (it is a self-cleaning organ with its own ecosystem). However, some conditions, including vaginismus, can make life with a vagina difficult. Vaginismus is a complex mental and physical condition in which the pelvic floor muscles surrounding the vagina involuntarily contract or tighten in response to attempted or anticipated vaginal penetration.
The tightening and contracting causes the vagina to narrow and makes things such as sex, tampon, pelvic exam, etc. extremely painful. Think of this as putting a pen inside a small coin purse. Do you see how difficult this is? The symptoms of vaginismus typically appear during the late teen and early adulthood, when sex is attempted for the first time.
While having penetrative sex the first time is known to be uncomfortable, it should NEVER be extremely painful. If it is, stop and let your partner know that it is uncomfortable, and see a healthcare provider-preferably an OB/GYN or Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner.
Primary vaginismus is when a woman and vagina owner has never been able to have vaginal penetration. Secondary vaginismus is when a woman and vagina owner has lost the ability to have vaginal penetration because of gynecological surgery, menopause, cancer treatment and radiation, emotional and physical trauma, and frequent urogenital infections and STIs. If left untreated, vaginismus can lead to trouble conceiving, increased fertility issues, and increased c-section rates.
Symptoms of Vaginismus
- Unable to insert a tampon or applicator
- Burning, stinging, or tightness at the vaginal opening
- Sharp pains in the vagina
- Feeling of “hitting a wall”
- Involuntarily closing legs during pelvic exams
- Avoidance of insertion
- Thoughts of insertion causing anxiety
- Painful sexual intercourse
RELATED: All Things Vaginal Health
When It’s Not Poppin’
Now I know music, yo homegirls, and everything else in media loves to praise women for having a tight vagina, but baby this ain’t the kind of tight you want. Vaginismus is a very frustrating and isolating disorder that can leave one with many questions, low self-esteem, and tarnished relationships.
The exact cause of vaginismus is unknown, but many contributing factors can cause the disorder. Some of the most common include fear of pain during sex and exams, especially from others’ oral histories, fear of the unknown of how something will feel inside the vagina, religious inhibitions (purity culture), mind-body disconnect, past discomfort, and trauma, perceiving the vagina as fragile, misconceptions about sex and sexuality, and parental over-protectiveness.
I’m sure you never thought about how the mind-body connection and the things we’re taught growing up really impact the most intimate areas of our lives. While living with vaginismus is a struggle, there are treatment options that can