Our expert says:
It sounds if you might be suffering from a condition called vaginismus. I have placed lots of info on the subject, so do see the archives for "Vaginismus" or "Dyspareunia" (painful intercourse).
The involuntary spasm of the muscle in the lower third of a woman’s vagina is called Vaginismus. This condition makes intercourse impossible because the muscle surrounding the opening to the vagina become so tight the penis cannot penetrate. Many women who have Vaginismus cannot even insert a tampon or their finger into their vagina. Inability to achieve orgasm is quite common in women with this disorder.
Vaginismus is an exaggeration of a simple, protective vaginal reflex, similar to the reaction of closing your eyes in a sandstorm. Temporary Vaginismus sometimes accompanies a physical problem that affects the genitals, such as an abscess or severe inflammation of the vagina.
Any traumatic sexual experience, such as rape or sexual abuse as a child, can produce Vaginismus, either temporarily or permanently if untreated. But in my experience, the most common emotional factors that cause Vaginismus are:
· Shame, guilt and conflict about the genitals, arising from early warnings such as “Don’t touch down there”.
· Faulty sexual learning, resulting from inaccurate information about sex (for example, the notion that sex is always painful) and minimal self-exploration of the genital area.
· Performance panic, caused by fear of pregnancy or anticipation that sex will be painful, possibly establishing a vicious cycle of anxiety followed by spasms.
Mrs G, a 28-year-old housewife, was sometimes able to attain orgasm when her husband Mr M stimulated her clitoris with his finger, but she developed Vaginismus every time he tried to penetrate her. The couple had been married for 6 years and their relationship was strained. G had let M enter her forcibly 5 or 6 times during their marriage, primarily when she had had lots to drink. “I told him to force me, to do whatever he had to do,” confessed G. But the sex was always painful for her.
G did not have a past history of sexual abuse, but her upbringing had been very restrictive. She was the only child of a Christian minister whose wife had died while giving birth to G. When disciplining her, G’s father sometimes reminded her of her mother’s death. As a teen, G had finally burst out, “Enough!! God took Mom, I didn’t.”
During sex therapy, G learned that, with simple exercises done at home, Vaginismus is 100% reversible. The muscle spasm can be voluntary contracted and relaxed away. If you have Vaginismus, try these simple techniques at home:
· Lock the door, disconnect the phone and lie down in a comfortable spot. Breathe very slowly and open your mouth when you exhale. Insert your finger, well lubricated with water – based lubricant or saliva, into your vagina and continue to breathe deeply. Keep your mouth open while you slowly exhale. You will feel how your vagina angles back about forty – five degrees. Relax. This is your own finger. No one is hurting you. Explore your own vagina. Breathe slowly and deeply. It’s starting to feel looser already.
· Now deliberately contract the muscles in the lower third of your vagina very tightly around your finger as though you were trying to stop the flow of urine. Relax and repeat. This exercise will teach you that you can control these muscles voluntarily, both to tighten and to loosen.
· Repeat these exercises for 5 minutes twice every day. On the first two days, use one finger. For the next two days, insert two of your fingers into your vagina, while breathing slowly in and out with your mouth open. Don’t forget to contract and relax the muscles surrounding the opening of the vagina. On the next two days, ask your partner to place one lubricated finger into your vagina while you continue your slow open-mouthed breathing. Guide his finger into your vagina. Use plenty of sexual fantasy to keep your mind focused on your sexuality. Then, on the following two days, after an extended period of foreplay, let your partner lie passively, straddle him and stuff his nonerect penis into your vagina. Contract and relax your vaginal muscles around his soft penis. You should soon be able to feel your partner’s erect penis inside your vagina without feeling pain. If you need more time for any of these stages, don’t worry. The important thing to remember is that you are in control and you set the pace.
In all of the exercises, you should be active and your partner should be passive. In this way, you will learn how to be responsible for finding a comfortable, relaxed way of inserting your finger or your partner’s finger or penis into your vagina. These exercises, done at home, have effectively reversed Vaginismus for many women. They can help you too.
Women can experience painful intercourse without spasm of the vaginal muscles; it can be caused by a variety of physical factors. The pain may be in the external parts of the genitals or deep in the pelvic area. In women, causes include lack of lubrication, a vaginal muscles, it can be caused by a variety of physical factors. The pain may be in the external parts of the genitals or deep in the pelvic area. In women, causes include lack of lubrication, a vaginal or bladder infection, soreness after childbirth, endometriosis (in which uterine tissue is displaced outside the uterus), or conditions affecting the ovaries. Common causes of painful intercourse in men include a tight foreskin, sexually transmitted diseases, and an infection of the prostate gland or the penis. Spermicides used for birth control can produce a chemical irritation that causes a burning sensation in both men and women.
These causes are physical, so you should see your doctor if you are having pain during intercourse that is related to spasm of the vaginal muscles.
The one thing I tell my patients again and again is that sex happens as much in your head as below the belt. You don’t cure sex problems simply by making sure all the parts work. You have to rediscover – or build – the intimacy in your relationship.
Call the SA Sexual Health Association for a referral near you 0860 100 262
Dr Elna Mcintosh
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal
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