Vaginismus is a painful condition in which the vaginal muscles involuntarily contract in response to an attempt at penetration. This can cause numerous issues with anything from penetrative sex to using tampons or receiving a medical examination, and attending vaginismus counselling in Luton and Dunstable is one of the primary methods of treatment for the issue. Around 2 in 1000 women suffer from vaginismus – with over 27,200 women estimated to have it in the UK – but these figures are likely higher due to the personal nature of the problem. Finding out more about vaginismus helps you determine if you’re suffering from the issue and which treatment options are available to you.
Do I Have Vaginismus?
The symptoms of vaginismus basically involve pain when things are inserted into the vagina, but the severity of the problem can differ. Some women experience discomfort and pain when anything is inserted (or attempted to be inserted) into the vagina, whereas others can use tampons and receive medical examinations but are unable to have sex. Sometimes sex may be possible, but it’s very painful.
The main symptoms are a burning or stinging sensation when anything is inserted into the vagina, a fear of penetration and the resulting pain, and even a loss of sexual arousal if penetration is attempted. This can cause issues in relationships, but it’s important to stress that this isn’t the woman’s fault; it’s a completely involuntary reaction, and it’s worsened by the learned association between penetration and pain. In other words, the vagina may start to tighten in response to penetration as a protective measure against the expected pain – it can become a vicious cycle.
Causes of Vaginismus
Whether or not vaginismus counselling will be the main treatment used depends on the cause of the problem. There are possible physical causes including oversensitive nerves at the opening of the vagina, previous surgery on the vagina, infections like thrush, some STDs and vaginal dryness. However, in many causes the cause is psychological, ranging from the way sex was dealt with in your upbringing (for example, being taught – incorrectly – that sex is something to be ashamed of, or is inherently painful) to previous experiences with sex, such as a painful sexual encounter or sexual abuse, and even early an experience of a painful gynaecological examination. The stress and anxiety resulting from “failed” sexual experiences (of course, it isn’t really “failure,” but it may feel that way) as a result of vaginismus may also worsen the problem.
Vaginismus Counselling and Treatment
If there is a medical cause for vaginismus, medical treatment will be provided to help clear the issue up, but psychological treatment in the form of vaginismus counselling is widely used. Counselling often takes the form of psychosexual counselling, which aims to establish the underlying psychological issues contributing to the problem and help you address them in order to rectify it. The basic idea is that by working through the underlying issue at your own pace, the resulting physical issue will also be cleared up. Other psychological treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy may also be used, and in some cases counselling is combined with vaginal trainers – cylinders of gradually increasing size which are used to “train” the vagina to allow penetration. These will be provided alongside exercises you can try in the comfort of your own home with your partner, which help maintain a relaxing atmosphere and allow you to take things at your own pace.
If you’re having trouble, finding vaginismus counselling in Luton and Dunstable can help you both understand and overcome the issue. Remember that the condition is nothing to be ashamed of, and help is available to enable you to establish a healthy sex life. If you have any questions, or would like more information about how we can help you, don’t hesitate to get in touch!
For more information about our costs for vaginismus counselling services please see the about us page.