| Caroline Knight
Vaginismus is a testing condition to say the least. Fear of penetration is the cause of the physical symptoms associated with vaginismus, but it’s not something you can simply rationalize away. When any attempt at penetration is made (whether for sexual or medical reasons), women with vaginismus find that their vaginal muscles involuntarily contract and spasm, making penetration difficult or impossible. To make matters worse, muscular tension can build up over time, causing problems in the pelvic floor. As a result lots of women wonder whether kegel exercises are good for vaginismus.
We understand why this might sound like a good idea, but the reality is that it’s counterintuitive; doing kegel exercises for vaginismus is a bad idea. In this article we will explain why this is, and what you should be doing instead if you wish to ease vaginismus symptoms.
Why aren’t kegel exercises good for vaginismus?
The main reason that kegel exercises for vaginismus don’t work is this: kegel exercises aim to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, so they are based on tensing and releasing the muscles in order to fortify them. However, if you have vaginismus your pelvic floor muscles are likely to be carrying a lot of tension and tightness anyway. They will be squeezing and releasing as if you were already doing overzealous kegel exercises.
So if you then start to constrict them on purpose, you are likely to create even more tension, consequently either causing or exacerbating pelvic floor problems. So if you have been diagnosed with vaginismus, before you attempt any kind of muscular therapy at home it is worth assessing yourself for signs of tight pelvic floor muscles (also known as a hypertonic pelvic floor). Here is an overview of the main ones to look out for:
- Muscle spasms and contractions in the pelvic area
- Difficulty in urinating properly or emptying the bladder
- Feelings of urgency (and frequency of need) – either bladder or bowel
- Pain when urinating or passing stools
- Constipation or straining
- Lower back pain or tightness in the muscles around the hips, glutes, groin, abdomen, genitals or rectum
We wrote a full article on the symptoms of tight pelvic floor muscles if you would like to know more.
Which exercises are good for vaginismus?
So now we’ve addressed the question of whether kegel exercises are good for vaginismus, we’ll move on to the exercises that do actually help. The exercises that help vaginismus are called pelvic floor stretches. Some people mix up kegel exercises with pelvic floor stretches, but there are some important differences. Pelvic floor stretches require the movement and stretching of various body parts, and they are very similar to yoga poses - they actually originate from yoga. Kegel exercises mainly just require tensing and releasing muscles at will.
As we have already written plenty on pelvic floor stretches, rather than list them all again here, let us direct you to another of our articles on how to relax your pelvic floor muscles. We also have a section on the site dedicated to pelvic floor stretches, and this outlines each move in detail along with images… so you can’t go wrong. You can try pelvic floor stretches for vaginismus at home, but don’t be disheartened if you find you need to do more to ease your symptoms. Vaginismus is a complex condition so sometimes it requires a combination of therapies and home treatments to overcome it.
The two main options are pelvic floor physical therapy (which includes pelvic floor exercises that are good for vaginismus), and using vaginal dilators in your own time and at your own pace. Both of these have worked wonders for women with vaginismus… it is in fact the reason that our company was started in the first place, so rest assured that this site exists to help you with exactly the advice and products you need to beat this challenging condition.