What is Vaginismus?
Vaginismus is a condition in which your body automatically contracts the pelvic floor muscles when penetration/insertion occurs. The pelvic floor muscles play an important role in sexual function and the ability to have pain free penetration/insertion. While this is deemed a sexual function “issue”, it is not limited to sex/intimacy, but can also include painful/limited insertion of things like tampons and painful pelvic exams in general.
This condition is far more complex than “just relaxing the muscles”. In fact, part of the issue is that you don’t have that voluntary control over those muscles at the moment. When your body senses penetration/insertion as a threat, your automatic defense system takes over and contracts the muscles as a protective mechanism.
As pelvic health therapists, we work with you as an individual to figure out what specific aspects of your body need attention in order to improve your awareness of the pelvic floor muscles and your ability to progressively experience pain free insertion. There are numerous techniques we use to help “train” the body to be able to tolerate insertion and reach your goals. Some of which include:
Guided Imagery: Preparing the mind to experience a physical change, so that when that change happens the mind is better prepared.
Myofascial and Trigger point release: sometimes the tension the muscles experience during penetration is also present when penetration is not occurring. It is usually very beneficial for people who are experiencing vaginismus to have myofascial/trigger point release, as it allows the muscles to “relearn” what they need to do and better improves your awareness of the area.
Dilators: These tools are made to encourage a slow and progressive stretch to the pelvic floor muscles as they are able to tolerate it. There are certain sequences and techniques that we use with these to better prepare the muscles for what your goals are.
If you are experiencing vaginismus or any type of pain with insertion/sex, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how pelvic therapy can be beneficial for you!
Blog post written by Dr. Tyler Kornblum, PT, DPT