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Vaginismus: causes, symptoms, and treatments

It is not customary to talk about this disease out loud, which is why it has no official statistics. Shame and a certain kind of taboo prevent women from contacting a doctor with their illness, while treatment is currently available to solve their problem. This is a sexual pain disorder called vaginismus.
Vaginismus is a sexual pain disorder that results in an involuntary spasm or contraction of the vaginal muscles during any attempt to penetrate, accompanied by pain. Most often this happens during sexual intercourse. However, women who suffer from vaginismus may experience pain not only during sex, but also during non-sexual activities, such as inserting a tampon or taking a vaginal swab during a gynecological examination.

This condition can occur in a woman at any stage of life, as in adolescence, for example, when the first attempt to use a tampon, and later, after the normal course of sexual life, for example, after childbirth.

Vaginismus can also develop against the background of thrush, sexual trauma, or menopause. Some women find that they suffer from vaginismus when they fail at the very first sexual contact.
Symptoms
Involuntary contraction of the vaginal muscles is the main symptom of vaginismus, but the severity of this condition can vary and is often accompanied by burning pain. In all cases, narrowing of the vagina makes it difficult or impossible to penetrate during sexual intercourse, insertion of a tampon, gynecological examination and intravaginal ultrasound. Contrary to popular belief, pain during sex or insertion of a tampon is not normal and requires medical attention.

At the same time, vaginismus does not mean an unwillingness to have sex and is not an indicator of a woman’s lack of arousal — it is penetration that causes fear. Women diagnosed with vaginismus are able to experience sexual pleasure and orgasm.

Causes of vaginismus
It is believed that vaginismus is a psychological problem, the causes of which are hidden in our heads. The trigger for this condition can be fear and negative emotions associated with sex, increased anxiety, experience of painful sexual contact or trauma in the past, as well as a number of other emotional factors that are individual for each woman.

Certain physical conditions, such as thrush and urogenital infections, can also contribute to the aggravation of symptoms of vaginismus.

Menopause can lead some women to symptoms of vaginismus. The fact is that after menopause, with a decrease in the level of estrogen, the lack of natural lubrication reduces the elasticity of the vagina and makes sexual intercourse painful, full of discomfort and stress, and sometimes even impossible. This condition is called atrophic vaginismus.

However, there are cases when vaginismus can occur by itself and the direct cause can not be found. In any case, the diagnosis can only be made by a doctor who has studied the history and conducted an examination.

Diagnosis of vaginismus
Diagnosis usually begins with the patient describing the symptoms. Most likely, the doctor will ask when you first noticed the problem, how often it occurs, and what is the trigger. The specialist may also ask you to tell a brief history of your sexual life, ask questions about sexual trauma or violence. Then the doctor proceeds to a gynecological examination.

Usually women are very nervous before such an examination. Therefore, try to arrange with the doctor in advance to make it less traumatic and more comfortable. For example, some women prefer to be examined on a couch rather than on a chair, while others bring a mirror with them to see what manipulations the doctor performs.

When the doctor suspects vaginismus, he usually conducts the examination as carefully as possible. Some gynecologists sometimes even allow patients to direct their hands or medical instruments into the vagina to facilitate penetration. You can also ask your doctor to explain each step of the examination as you go through it.

The purpose of a gynecological examination is to detect or exclude signs of infection or scarring and to check the vagina for inflammation. Often, vaginismus can be confused with vulvar vestibulitis, caused by inflammation of the vagina, which causes pain only during penetration and, as a rule, is asymptomatic. From vaginismus do not have any physical causes. This is one of the key criteria for making a diagnosis.

If you are still diagnosed with vaginismus, this is not a reason to refuse sexual pleasure, because many intimate actions are not associated with penetration, such as oral sex, massage and Masturbation.
Treatment
The good news is that vaginismus is a completely treatable disorder. Its treatment is complex and usually includes educational and psychological support, as well as special exercises.

Educational support consists of studying the anatomy of the genitals and what happens to them during sexual arousal and close intimacy. You will also get information about the muscles involved in vaginismus.

Psychological support is usually provided by a specialist who specializes in sexual disorders. These classes are conducted by the course and are based on the principle of psychotherapy. In addition to educational and psychological support, some women are well helped by relaxation and hypnosis methods.

Vaginal dilators
For some women, special vaginal dilators are an effective tool in the fight against vaginismus, which should be used under the supervision of a specialist.

The cone-shaped expander is placed in the vagina and begins to gradually increase in size. This, in turn, helps the vaginal muscles stretch and become more elastic.

Kegel exercise
These exercises consist of alternately Contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles that control the vagina, rectum, and bladder. Correctly determine which muscles are involved in this exercise, you can during urination. If you try to stop the flow immediately after you start urinating, you will immediately feel the pelvic floor muscles start working. This group consists of 21 muscles that move, contract, and relax simultaneously.You can work out these muscles by doing the following:

empty your bladder;
contract your pelvic floor muscles and count to 10;
relax your pelvic floor muscles and count to 10 again.
Do 10 repetitions three times a day.

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