Overcoming Vaginismus: A Guide from a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist

If you’ve never heard of it, vaginismus is a fancy word for when the muscles in the vagina decide to clench up like a clamshell and refuse to let anything in. It can be a painful and frustrating experience for those who experience it. But fear not, because as a pelvic floor physical therapist, I’m here to share some helpful insights to help you overcome vaginismus.

What is vaginismus?

Vaginismus is a condition where the muscles in the pelvic floor contract involuntarily, making it difficult or impossible to insert anything into the vagina. This can make sex painful or even impossible. Vaginismus is not just a physical issue, because it can also cause emotional distress and frustration for the people who experience it and even their partners.

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that support the pelvic organs, including the bladder, uterus, and rectum. The pelvic floor muscles are involved in a variety of functions, such as controlling bowel and bladder movements and sexual function. In individuals with vaginismus, the pelvic floor muscles contract involuntarily and cannot relax. This can cause pain and discomfort during penetration, making sexual activity difficult or impossible.

Signs of Vaginismus

The most obvious symptom of vaginismus is difficulty or pain during sex. However, there are other signs that may indicate vaginismus as well. Some people may experience discomfort or pain when inserting a tampon, using a menstrual cup, or during a gynecological exam. Others may find that they can’t insert anything at all, even a finger.

Vaginismus and the Pelvic Floor

As I shared above, the pelvic floor is a group of muscles that support the pelvic organs, including the bladder, uterus, and rectum. When these muscles contract involuntarily, it can cause tension and pain in the area. This can lead to a cycle of pain and tension, where the muscles tighten up in anticipation of pain, which in turn causes more pain.

Treatment Options for Vaginismus

The good news is that there are treatment options available for anyone suffering from vaginismus! One of the most effective treatments is pelvic floor physical therapy. This involves working with a physical therapist, like me, who specializes in the pelvic floor muscles and can help patients learn how to relax and release the muscles.

During pelvic floor physical therapy, you’ll learn exercises and techniques to help you relax and release the muscles in your pelvic floor. These exercises may involve breathing, relaxation techniques, and stretching.

For example, using a set of graduated dilators can help you gradually and safely stretch the muscles in your pelvic floor. This can help you become more comfortable with inserting things into your vagina and can ultimately make sex less painful.

Your physical therapist may also refer you to a mental health expert to help address any underlying emotional or psychological factors that may be contributing to vaginismus.

It’s important to remember that vaginismus is a common and treatable condition. You are not alone, and there is help available. There’s nothing wrong with you for experiencing vaginismus. It’s a physical condition that can be caused by a variety of factors, including past trauma, anxiety, and even certain medical conditions. You are not broken or damaged, and you deserve to enjoy a fulfilling sex life!!

Ready to Ditch Vaginismus? Let’s chat!

With the right treatment and support, you can overcome vaginismus and enjoy a healthy and happy sex life. If you want to work with me, you can now book a virtual or in-person session (Minnesota) with me to receive a specialized, unique-to-you treatment plan to get the healing you need.

Looking for additional resources on pelvic health? My YouTube channel holds dozens of videos where I offer free pelvic floor training, yoga exercises, and more. My instagram page takes a little bit more of a light hearted approach while still providing educational content. And of course, if you have a specific pelvic floor subject you’re looking for more information on, a quick search of my blogs may give you the answers you need.

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