What is Vaginismus?

DISCLAIMER: I AM BY NO MEANS AN EXPERT. THIS IS JUST MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.

I was diagnosed with vaginismus the summer going into sophomore year of college.

But what is vaginismus exactly?

Vaginismus, by definition, is the “involuntary contraction of muscles around the opening of the vagina in women with no abnormalities in the genital organs. The tight muscle contraction makes sexual intercourse or any sexual activity that involves penetration or impossible.” So, most women with vaginismus cannot tolerate sexual intercourse and penetration. Some of them cannot tolerate using tampons, and I am one of those people.

When I first tried using a tampon, I was in high school and my family was going to the beach the next day. I really wanted to go in the water, so I bought a box of tampons and tried to learn how to use them. No one in my immediate family has ever used them; we have only used pads, so no one could teach me directly. I spent about half an hour trying to get the tampon inside me, but nothing was working. Me being hopeful, I just thought it was because I was nervous, but in reality, I was relaxed. I kept trying but nothing was working so I didn’t get in the water the following day.

How did I realize I had vaginismus?

You have to be diagnosed with vaginismus by your gynecologist. I was worried beforehand about my vagina because I wasn’t sure why I couldn’t insert anything up there. I didn’t think much about the tampons. However, the first time I tried having sexual intercourse, it was a different story. We tried over and over again, but nothing was working. We both tried researching ways to help my vaginal muscles relax, but the same thing kept happening. No matter how relaxed I was and how much I wanted it (and I was SO relaxed), my muscles just kept involuntary closing, like a hard brick wall, not allowing entry. I tried researching again later and I found vaginismus. I was worried but also didn’t want to self-diagnose, so I made an appointment with a gynecologist back home. When I went there, I told her everything and she diagnosed me with vaginismus.

Is it a forever kind of thing?

Absolutely not. Although many women go years suffering without knowing, there are a lot of treatments available. The kinds of treatment I have heard about are physical therapy, dilators, Botox, and numbing lube. My gynecologist recommended physical therapy and dilators and prescribed me some numbing lube.

Physical therapy.

This, I heard, is the most effective way to treat and cure vaginismus. The physical therapist is supposed to help you find ways to relax, give you exercises to do, that sort of thing. Kegels are not the only way to work your vaginal muscles. I haven’t had the time to do this yet, but this is definitely my top choice for treatment.

Dilators.

Dilators are basically a set of dildos, ranging from smallest to biggest, which you buy with your own money. They were recommended for me, but I have yet to convince myself to purchase them. You’re supposed to start out with the smallest dilator until you’re comfortable and work your way up to the largest one. I heard this is also a very effective treatment and can help a lot of women with vaginismus.

Botox.

I have read multiple articles about vaginismus, most of them on Buzzfeed. A woman named Lara Parker, who has vaginismus, vulvodynia, vulvar vestibulitis, interstitial cystitis, endometriosis, and overall pelvic floor dysfunction, got Botox for her vagina. It changed her life and helped with penetration. For example, it took her two years of physical therapy to insert a medium-sized dilator into her vagina, but after the Botox procedure, it slid in easily. Although sexual intercourse is still difficult for her, it’s still a great option for people who do their research.

Numbing lube.

Like I mentioned above, I was prescribed numbing lube. In my experience, and I’m being frank, it didn’t really help. You’re supposed to use it for sex, but it still hurt, and I felt everything. This was just my experience, however. I’m sure it works for many other women.

All in all, vaginismus is a real thing and I have been shamed for it. I’ve opened up to family members and one of them even said that I just needed to keep pushing and it’s supposed to hurt. That’s just not true. Sex isn’t supposed to hurt (unless you want it to). It sucks when a lot of people don’t understand and just assume that it hurts just because someone has never just forcefully pushed it in. I don’t want to “get used” to the pain. I want to enjoy myself and that’s why I’m writing this. Vaginismus isn’t commonly known but many women are affected. It’s common but it’s treatable, and it’s a condition I think everyone should be aware of.