| Tara Langdale
Dealing with vaginismus psychologically can be a powerful route to healing. Sexual disorders are often a major stress for the person suffering from them, but they can also cause a lot of tension within a partnership. Psychological attention may prevent the common downward spiral in dynamic that couples often deal with, which leads to further stress and exacerbation of the disorder itself.
If left unchecked, such a self-perpetuating cycle can lead to negative psychological tendencies. These may take quite some effort to overcome, but it can be done. It may also be necessary to address the physical factors, of course. However, the psychological factors behind vaginismus could well be laying dormant in the subconscious.
Why is dealing with vaginismus necessary?
When a woman with vaginismus is about to have sexual intercourse, before the moment of penetration she is likely to experience involuntary spasms in the muscles around the outer third of her vagina. Understandably this can make for painful sex, if not rendering intimacy impossible. She may even feel that she has no control over her own body.
If this sounds like your problem, dealing with vaginismus is a crucial commitment. It may help to know that you certainly aren’t alone. Incidences of vaginismus are estimated at around between 1 and 17% per year, worldwide. In North America alone between 12 and 21% of women report genito-pelvic pain of various causes. Around 15% of women in North America report that pain during intercourse is a regular occurrence.
It is quite common, but it is undeniably very unpleasant and may not go away on its own. It may even be dangerous because gynecological health risks become impossible too. The good news is that understanding the causes of vaginismus may really help.
Common psychological reasons for vaginismus
If you can, it is useful to try to understand where your symptoms of vaginismus originated. You might manage to overcome the symptoms without doing so, but if you can pinpoint how it started and which thoughts and feelings trigger it, this is a good start.
Here are some common psychological reasons that trigger vaginismus symptoms:
- History of sexual abuse
- Negative perception of sex, e.g. due to religious or familial values
- Unhealthy relationship dynamic with current or past partner
- Insecurities relating to self-image or self-worth
While it is possible to unravel feelings relating to such issues on your own, it can be hard to determine how ingrained they are. If you feel that one or more of these issues could be the cause of your vaginismus, it would be wise to find a counsellor or psychotherapist, for instance.
There are likely to be various types of psychological therapists equipped to help you work through it. For example, you might make an appointment with a behavioral sex therapist or arrange some kind of relational intervention.
Other ways of dealing with vaginismus
There are a number of physical methods that can relieve the symptoms of vaginismus, such as:
- Pelvic floor physical therapy
- Use of vaginal dilators
- Anti-anxiety medication (in severe and persistent cases only)
We have extensively covered using vaginal dilators on this site, as they are one of the most reliable physical methods of dealing with vaginismus. Feel free to take a look around the site and ask any questions you think we may be able to help with.
The bottom line is that you don’t need to suffer in silence. There are many resources available to you, and many trained and compassionate people that are more than willing to help.