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Treatment Options for Vaginismus

written by: Valerie Tandoi • edited by: BStone • updated: 4/4/2011

Does it hurt to have sex? Do you want to have an active sex life with your husband or boyfriend but you continue to have difficulties in the bedroom? The pain you experience with sex is not in your head. You may be suffering from vaginismus. Treatments for vaginismus are available.

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    When Sex is Painful

    It is normal to be confused and scared when sex is painful. If you are a woman who finds it difficult to have sex, insert a tampon or have a pap smear performed, you are not alone. These acts are not supposed to be painful. If engaging in any of these activities results in intense pain, it is important to realize that the pain is not in your head. It is important to seek help with your problem. You may be suffering from vaginismus.

    Vaginismus is a condition where the vaginal muscles involuntarily tighten when penetration is expected. The issue with vaginismus is that many women do not seek help at first. If you have always suffered from this condition, you may believe that sex has to hurt and you may not realize that help is available. You also may feel embarrassed to discuss this topic with a friend or with your doctor in fear that he or she may not understand what you are going through. Many treatments for vaginismus are available so there is no reason for you to suffer in silence.

    It is important to understand that vaginismus can occur for two reasons. You may suffer from vaginismus due to a trauma in the past such as rape or feeling chastised for a sexual decision that you made as a teen. As a result, your brain tries to protect your vagina from entry, resulting in unwanted muscle activity.

    The second reason why you may suffer from vaginismus is as a result of underlying medical conditions. Many vulvar vaginal and bladder disorders can cause painful muscle spams in the vagina. These conditions include vulvodynia, interstitial cystitis, pelvic floor dysfunction and vulvar vestibulitis.

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    Treating Vaginismus

    Treatments for vaginismus are essential for allowing your pelvic muscles to function properly. Seeking treatment will improve your over all quality of life. It is important to make an appointment with your gynecologist, urologist or a vaginal disease specialist to rule out any medical reasons for your vaginismus. If no other medical problems are found, you will probably be instructed to start pelvic floor physical therapy.

    You may not realize that physical therapy is available for the pelvis, but it is and it can be vital in curing your vaginismus. Physical therapy can include bio-feedback where you insert a device into your vagina and connect yourself to a computer. The physical therapist will teach you exercises and monitor the progress of your muscles spams on a computer.

    There is also sexual therapy available where a physical therapist can give you a set of dilators to use at home. The dilators come in various sizes. Slowly at your own pace you can become comfortable inserting in a larger size to your vagina, helping to stretch the muscles. You can even use your dilator during a hot bath to help you relieve any anxiety you may have about trying this treatment.

    If your doctor believes your vaginismus is caused by a traumatic event and not by a physical medical condition, it is important to seek therapy and talk to someone about your past. Learning how to heal can help you to overcome your sexual issues.

    If you suffer strictly from post trauma vaginismus it is possible to permanently be cured. In some cases though, vaginismus may return.

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    When a Medical Condition is Present

    Unfortunately, when an underlying medical condition is causing your vaginismus symptoms, there often is no permanent cure. Conditions such as vulvodynia, interstitial cystitis and pelvic floor dysfunction are all considered chronic illnesses. Although there is no one cure, there are many treatments available and some people do even go into periods of remission.

    One main difference between someone suffering from vaginismus alone and someone suffering from vaginismus as a side effect of another medical condition, is that plain vaginismus only causes pain upon penetration. Women who suffer from chronic pelvic and bladder illnesses may also have pain almost constantly while doing daily activities such as working, cleaning and sitting. The pain associated with sex is just one of a laundry list of problems.

    If you suffer from one of these conditions help is still available. Physical therapy may still be advised as it does help greatly with the taming of spastic pelvic muscles. If you have vulvodynia, chronic inflammation of the vulva, you may also be placed on medications such as vaginal Valium to help your vaginal muscles relax and low grade antidepressants to help with chronic nerve pain.

    Interstitial cystitis, a painful and chronic bladder syndrome, is usually treated with Elmiron, a medication that can help to repair the bladder. In addition, many interstitial cystitis patients may be placed on antihistamine medications, low acid diets and even have medications inserted directly into the bladder via a catheter.

    When you find a treatment for your pelvic or bladder disorder that works for you, you may regain the ability to have pain free sex again.

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    Resources

    The NVA: Home- http://www.nva.org/

    Sex Without Pain: Vaginismus- http://www.sexwithoutpain.com/vaginismus.htm

    Function Ability: Women's Health- http://www.functionabilitypt.com/womens_pelvic_floor_dysfunction.htm

    Image Credit

    Free Digital Photos/Andy Newson