There are many definitions of vaginismus (also known as Marion-Sims syndrome). Unfortunately, socially it is still seen more as a fun curiosity than a real problem. Because of feeling ashamed only a small percentage of women seek help from a specialist, and yet treatment of vaginismus is very effective. In this article you will learn more about this disorder and its causes.
What is vaginismus?
Vaginismus is a sexual dysfunction involving the involuntary contraction of the muscles surrounding one-third of the outer part of the vagina – the perineal muscle and the levator ani muscle. Contraction is extremely painful for a woman, while preventing sexual intercourse and often gynecological examination.
Primary or secondary vaginismus?
There are many divisions of vaginismus that help to systematize this condition. Often, the time at which symptoms first appear is the criterion of division. In this respect, the following types of vaginismus stand out:
- primary vaginismus – occurs from the first attempts at sexual contact and usually affects teenagers or young women. This type of dysfunction is most often psychosomatic, but not always.
- secondary vaginismus – appears in women whose sex life with their partners was previously successful and before the first symptoms they did not experience disturbing ailments.
Emotional or physical triggers?
The second division takes into account the causes of vaginismus. Interestingly, at first these causes seem quite clear, but often physical triggers in themselves do not hinder intercourse, and cause women psychoemotional disorders associated with shame or fear of intercourse.
- Emotional triggers – painful muscle spasms may occur before or during sexual intercourse. Among the causes are:
- past traumatic events, especially those related to sexual violence;
- psychological trauma associated with the sexual partner and bad relationships between partners;
- little sexual experience;
- punishments related to expressions of interest in sexuality that were experienced in childhood;
- Puritan upbringing.
- Physical triggers – are associated with diseases or irregularities within the reproductive system. Among possible causes are:
- inflammatory changes of the vagina;
- atrophic changes of the mucosa;
- pelvic pain syndromes;
- changes in the course of endometriosis;
- vaginal and perineal injuries;
- congenital malformations: genital atresia, septum, duplication, agenesis.
It is worth seeking help!
It is estimated that several percent of Polish women suffer from vaginismus. In fact, this percentage is much higher, because the study only included women who undertook a treatment. Which specialist can help?
Gynecologist, psychologist, sexologist or maybe urogynecological physiotherapist?
Is it worth seeking help at all? Of course! Medical literature indicates that every case of vaginismus can be permanently cured by combining the efforts of the patient, her partner and the appropriate specialist. Don’t underestimate the symptoms. Vaginismus often contributes to the development of mental disorders or diseases (frigidity, anxiety disorders, depression). Sometimes, women affected by vaginismus avoid visits and gynecological examinations for many years.
If you suspect you may suffer from vaginismus, you should first go to a gynecologist. Medical history and gynecological examination will allow diagnosis and simultaneous exclusion of lesions within the reproductive system. It should be emphasized that sometimes extremely advanced vaginismus may prevent part of the examination from being performed.
Comprehensive therapy of vaginismus will be conducted by a psychologist-sexologist who is an experienced specialist in the broadly understood human sexuality, who will, if necessary, conduct effective psychotherapy for the patient. From the psychologist-sexologist a woman suffering from vaginismus will also receive information about helpful exercises that can be done at home, alone or with a partner.
A visit to a urogynecological physiotherapist may complement the treatment of vaginismus. A good physiotherapist, with the help of therapeutic methods and exercises, will teach a woman suffering from vaginismus the proper work of pelvic floor muscles, helping to cope with involuntary contractions and pain syndromes.
Vaginismus is a sexual dysfunction that is very diverse. Therapy should be tailored to the individual needs of a woman, and often requires a special interdisciplinary team consisting of a gynecologist, psychologist-sexologist and physiotherapist. It is worth asking for help to avoid growing frustration, misunderstandings in the relationship or problems in applying for children. Comprehensive therapy will allow a woman to enjoy sex life.