Vaginismus is a condition in which the vaginal muscles involuntarily contract, making penetration painful and sometimes impossible. When we first see a vaginismus patient at the Center, we do a psychosocial assessment as well as a medical one. Frequently, though women are told that the condition is all in their heads or the result of a sexual trauma, we find that this is often not the case. Though the etiology of vaginismus is somewhat unknown, it seems its roots are most likely a combination of physiological, psychological, hormonal and environmental factors. Vaginismus could be reconceptualized as an aversion or a phobia of vaginal penetration.
We have found de-sensitization or exposure therapy to be the most effective treatment for vaginismus. We use dilators which are silicone cylinders of gradually increasing size to slowly and gently stretch the vaginal muscles over time. And it really works! Though we find the addition of therapy and relaxation may be helpful, it is primarily the slow and gentle but consistent use of dilators that tends to help women most. Particularly when it is done properly in conjunction with a Physician’s Assistant or Nurse Practitioner. There are other forms of treatment available and obviously every individual is unique and some may require other forms of help, but I would strongly suggest this type of treatment if you are suffering from vaginismus. Very few gynecologists/ obstetricians and therapists are trained to deal with it so seek out the proper help and don’t suffer alone any longer.