Last month, Maze nurse practitioner Jackie Giannelli, FNP-BC, wrote a blog about the two different types of vaginismus, primary and secondary. As she points out, both types induce discomfort and pain, making any kind of penetration impossible. And whether or not a woman is struggling with the primary or secondary kind, anxiety is almost always an unwelcome companion.
Let’s focus for a moment on secondary vaginismus, which is an especially confounding condition. Women who experience it wonder why they were once able to have sex or a gynecological exam or insert a tampon without any pain but now encounter the exact opposite. Some women present with SV emotional suffering that may be more frustration than anxiety, but either way, they often express feelings of inadequacy and failure just like their PV counterparts.
As Jackie explained in her blog, there are biological reasons for SV, and the good news is that there is highly effective treatment no matter when a woman experiences vaginismus. But treatment can take time, so we advise everyone to adopt some new best friends while they are on the path to healing – acceptance, patience and self-compassion. And of course, we encourage vaginismus sufferers to avoid what I call the comparison cyclone. No two women heal along the same timeline, simply because no two women are the same. And as like to say during treatment – slow is fast. If you move too quickly, you will likely set yourself up for a lot of discomfort and aggravation. If a woman with vaginismus has a committed partner, they will need to also be patient, understanding and supportive.
If you think you might have vaginismus, you’re not alone, and there is help.