We call “vaginism” to the impossibility or extreme difficulty to manage vaginal penetration, due to the contraction of the muscles surrounding the vagina.
The spasm is an involuntary response that many women do not recognize, suffer the consequences of, but do not know what is going on.
When a woman gets sexually aroused, she experiences a relaxation of the vaginal muscles. In Vaginism, however, the muscle contraction is such that it makes penetration not possible. It is as if the defensive system were activated, thus any attempt of penetration produces a reflex response.
Very often there is not an easy explanation for the woman facing this problem, given that in the present moment her wish and her ideas lead her to have a satisfactory sexual intercourse experience. However, it is as if she were programmed: an alarm system gets activated and the woman has no control over it.
The difficulty usually goes together with irrational ideas about penetration, anguish and fear, can be indicators to consider. Between 2% and 4% of women suffer Vaginism and it is about 10% of sexual problems in general.
Women who have this disorder feel very anxious about the idea of introducing some object into the vagina, they can’t even try to introduce a single finger or a tampon. It is thus that some kind of fear to vaginal penetration develops and the idea that it will painful is fostered.
Any attempt of penetration makes her tense. It seems as if she had a hypersensibility to the vaginal distension. In these circumstances, penetration is very difficult. The attempts of gynecological exploration may also have the same effect. The woman cannot be explored because her phobia does not let her. Respect to the body has to be taken into account, especially in women that come to therapy because of this problem.
In sexual therapy, particularly in cases of Vaginism, information and education are very important. These women generally lack information over their body and those of others, especially about the genitals.
Besides, the strict censorship of female sexuality has contributed to the lack of normalization en colloquial speech on the erogenous zones. Due to the little sexual education available, the perception of their own genitals can be distorted.
The great majority of women who suffer Vaginism have the impression that their vagina is too small and the entry very narrow, thus the difficulty for the penis to go in.
They also think that the vagina is closed by the hymen. The idea over this membrane is very confuse, even in women with university studies, and despite the profusion of books on the subject.
In the treatment of Vaginism it is very important for her partner to understand that it is not a unique case, but it can be solved.
Nowadays, we know that the cause of Vaginism is always of psychological order and that chirurgical interventions are a mistake. The diagnosis of Vaginism is very simple.
In Vaginism, as in other sexual disorders, the fact that the couple comes to therapy together constitutes a good prognosis. It is very important the psychological support of the partner of a woman with Vaginism; the analysis of sexual myths; general information over sexuality, and specially over feminine sexuality.
However, Vaginism can be one of the reasons for which a woman may not establish relationships. In this case, she should go to counselling on her own and follow the guidance of the therapist to resolve these issues as soon as possible.
Even though Vaginism may seem a very serious disorder, our experience in sexological therapy tells us that with adequate help, a woman can overcome it in a few months.