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Vaginismus: A Muscular Problem

Vaginismus, quite simply, is muscle spasm of the vaginal muscles. It may include just the ''outside'' layer of muscles, the superficial layer, or, more commonly, affect the ''inside'' or deep layer of pelvic floor muscles as well. It may be present all the time, or it may occur only when the area is touched or when something tries to come in to the vagina - whether the speculum for your Pap Smear, or your partner's finger or penis.

Common symptoms of vaginismus include:

  • Finding sex difficult or impossible due to pain or a feeling of ''blockage'' or ''restriction''
  • Painful sex
  • Painful Pap Smears, or being unable to have a Pap Smear due to the pain it causes
  • Difficulty inserting tampons
  • Feeling like your vagina is ''too small'' for sex

There is a lot of talk about vaginismus being a psychological condition.While psychological factors can be a strong contributing factor in some women, vaginismus always involves a physical problem - that is, the inability to voluntarily relax the pelvic floor muscles. Therefore, physical treatment is often required to overcome the problem.

A common treatment for vaginismus is the use of ''vaginal dilators''. Dilators are cylindrical objects in various sizes that are inserted into the vagina to stretch the muscles and ''get used'' to the feeling of something being inserted. However, dilators are sometimes not the best place to start. In fact, sometimes they can make the problem worse. It is important to have an assessment performed by an experienced practitioner, who will choose from an array of techniques to find the most appropriate one for you.

People often feel nervous about having an assessment for their vaginismus. Yes, we do need to do a vaginal examination, which is something you may dread. You can rest assured that with experienced and skilled practitioners, this will be as gentle as it possibly can be. Having a comprehensive assessment is the first and essential step to recovering from vaginismus.

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