Your partner just found out that she has vaginismus. She is either relieved, devastated, or a combination of the two, depending on how much time she has spent avoiding the issue, jumping between health care providers, and trying to understand the condition. Now you are trying to understand what vaginismus is, figure out what your role might be in helping your partner, determine how you can best be supportive. And I will add, figure out how you can take care of yourself as well.
- Educate yourself. Hopefully your partner’s health care provider has explained vaginismus to you in a way that makes sense. It is important that you don’t blame yourself or feel responsible. Nothing you have done has “caused” the vaginismus and nothing you have done could have changed the situation. Vaginismus is a condition that effects around 10% of women and is a reaction to a combination of physical and psychological factors. You didn’t make it happen and whether you have been calm, supportive, and understanding or anxious and irritable might have affected your partners’ anxiety level, but did not cause the underlying problem. If you don’t feel sufficiently educated, now is the time to do some research. You can go onto our website and read a great deal about vaginismus. You can join our forum to read and interact with other women who suffer with vaginismus and interact with their partners as well. You can google vaginismus and use this time to educate yourself, but just be careful to explore reliable, professional sources.
- Encourage her. Once you feel like you have a handle on the condition, your job is to encourage your partner to seek help. Oftentimes, partners of vaginismus patients believe that they should just be a silent partner and wait until the woman finds the help she needs. I don’t think that is the case. Oftentimes women with vaginismus are “frozen” and can’t find the right place to get help. Sometimes they feel so terrible about the condition that they want to avoid thinking about it and don’t reach out for professional support and treatment. Here you really can help. You can research, provide ideas, and encourage your partner to make and keep the necessary appointments. You can let her know that you are there for her, and will be with her during this journey, but that It’s important for her to make progress. During this time, it is extremely helpful if you make it clear that you love and support and that you believe she is strong enough to get help and solve the problem.
- Provide positive support and feedback. You can, and should, actively ask how you can help with treatment. For some of our patients, that means sitting and watching TV with them when they dilate. For others it means actually working with them to insert the dilators. It can mean going with them to appointments if they are nervous. Other times it means encouraging them to spend the money they may need to get expert help without feeling guilty. Ask your partner what would help. Support her in whatever way works best for her. Encourage her not to avoid or give up but to keep moving ahead with treatment. Let you partner know how proud you are of every milestone she hits. If she has moved up to a medium dilator, buy her flowers. Buy her a card or a small gift for having dilated another week. Encourage her verbally and physically.
- Keep having sex. You can have great sex without intercourse and now is the time to experiment, explore, and have fun. Let her know that you love her, that the sex that you are having now is great, and you love and appreciated all the sexual time you have together, even if you are not having intercourse.
- And finally, take care of yourself! Be aware that this is a difficult time for you as well. Try to find someone you can talk to about the whole situation, someone who will encourage you and support you, as you and your partner continue on this journey. Don’t get angry at yourself if you sometimes feel down and sad about the situation. That’s normal and natural and if you make sure to take care of yourself you will be more available for your partner.
Please know that this is not a terribly long road. With your support and encouragement, both of you should come through the treatment within a number of months, if not weeks.
You are truly a partner in this journey.
If your partner is suffering from vaginismus, contact us for a free phone consultation.