| Tara Langdale
When your vaginal muscles become too tight, you may experience unexplained pain. For some, the reason is due to a lack of arousal or inadequate lubrication. For others, painful sexual intercourse has to do with a tightened vagina, commonly referred to as vaginismus.
Vaginismus is the involuntary spasm of the vaginal muscles during penetration. It causes severe problems with sexual activities, female sexuality, relationships, and mental health. Women with vaginismus may live for years suffering in silence before seeking treatment. One of the best solutions for treating vaginismus is learning how to relax the vaginal muscles or pelvic floor muscles.
What are vaginal muscles (pelvic floor muscles)?
Your pelvic floor muscles are a band of muscles circling your pelvis, which is between the abdomen and thighs. The pelvic floor also supports the pelvic organs, such as the vagina, uterus, bladder, and bowel.
Pelvic muscles help prevent accidental peeing or stopping urination in midstream. They also enable you to stop meant flatulence (passing of gas) or bowel movement (pooping). In addition to bodily function support, pelvic muscles tighten or contract when sexually aroused (orgasm).
For a grown woman the vagina encompasses about 4-5 inches. It’s a tube-like, elastic organ that connects the external female genital organs to the uterus. As the main area for sexual intercourse, when the muscles are tight during vaginal penetration, it causes severe pelvic pain.
How to identify your pelvic floor muscles?
If it’s hard for you to identify your pelvic floor, there are some methods you can use to locate them:
- Contract your pelvic floor by imagining having to hold back a urine stream. You mustn't try this with your bladder full because you run the risk of a urinary tract infection (UTI). Plus, your muscles might become weak from the effort. As you imagine the stream of urine, tighten the muscles to prevent the urine from coming out.
- Insert a vaginal dilator into your vagina and then squeeze the muscles around the dilator. At this point, you should experience the sensation of your vagina tightening and the upward movement of your pelvic floor. Vaginal dilators come in graduated sizes, starting at the size of your pinky finger, making insertion bearable or more comfortable if you have a hard time relaxing your pelvic floor.
- Contract or squeeze the muscles that help you to prevent a bowel movement or passing gas. Remember not to contract your buttocks, inner thighs, or abdomen. If your body lifts, even slightly, your butt muscles may be tightening. When this happens, you're not tightening your vaginal muscles but rather the area around the pelvic organ.
By identifying your vaginal muscles, you'll be able to practice easing them during vaginal relaxation exercises. If you need further help understanding or identifying your vaginal muscles, speak to your gynecologist or medical professional
What causes tense vaginal muscles?
Tight vaginal muscles are more common than people think, and the reason can be physiological or psychological, including:
Dyspareunia is an ongoing or recurrent vaginal pain during sexual intercourse. Painful intercourse can occur at any time— before, during, or after sex. The reasons for dyspareunia include:
- Lack of lubrication during sex
- Menopause (hormone levels lower natural lubrication)
- Trauma or injury (childbirth, accident, pelvic surgery)
- Medication side effect (inhibits desire or reduces lubrication)
- Skin disorder or injection (eczema or UTI)
- Radiation or chemotherapy
The good news is that treating vaginismus through relaxing vaginal muscles can help women experience pain-free intercourse.
Women experiencing vaginismus have an uncontrollable tightening of the muscles around the bottom of the vagina. There are two kinds of vaginismus: primary and secondary.
Primary vaginismus is a condition present throughout a woman’s life. It may not become apparent until experiencing pain during sex or pelvic exams, but the state may not have a direct cause.
Secondary vaginismus is when a woman has had vaginal penetration without severe pain in the past, but now sex hurts. Anxiety and fear associated with sexual activity have become conditioned and chronic, making penetration extremely painful or impossible. The reason for the sexual dysfunction include:
- Cancer care (undergoing pelvic floor radiation therapy)
- Menopause symptoms
- Experiencing a trauma or injury
- Medical surgery
- Relationship issues
- Side effect from a medication
How to relax vaginal muscles?
Learning how to relax your vaginal muscles helps ease the pain and tearing associated with vaginismus. The diagnosis and treatment of these conditions usually include a combination of pelvic floor exercise, vaginal dilators, and therapy.
Medical advice recommends trying pelvic floor stretching. It’s the stretching of the vaginal muscles through yoga poses. It’s a form of physical therapy that’s gentle and mild, making the muscles stretch in and around the pelvic area. Some of the poses include Child’s Pose, Cobra Pose, and Garland Pose. Practicing gentle stretching not only improves the elasticity of your vaginal muscles but helps improve your mental health.
Another way to overcome vaginismus is through vaginal dilators. VuVa™ Vaginal Dilators are tube-shaped devices that come in come in graduated sizes. Clinical research shows dilator therapy is safe and effective. Follow these steps when learning how to relax your vaginal muscles.
- When you begin using dilators, choose the smallest size that's the most comfortable for your body. It may be at first that you can only tolerate a small part of the dilator. While this is normal, it will improve with time.
- Find a quiet room where you won’t be interrupted to begin dilator insertion. You don’t want to worry about being interrupted.
- In a relaxed position, preferably on your back, bend both knees and open your legs.
- Before insertion, lubricate the dilator with water-based lubricant. Lubrication helps with insertion.
- You can insert the dilator as far as your comfortable with doing. Once the dilator is in place, stay on your back for 20-30 minutes.
- Your vaginal muscles may contract and push the dilator out, so keeping it in place with your hand helps with the treatment success.
- When you can comfortably insert the dilator without pain, your muscles are relaxed. At that point, you move up to the next size dilator.
The process of relaxing your pelvic floor muscles may take time. Each woman is different, and it may take a few treatments before the pain improves. Speak to your healthcare professional about the transformative power of vaginal dilators to help relax vaginal muscles. Discover the healing power today.