Vaginismus is a problem that manifests itself as an inability to have sexual intercourse or hardly have one due to the involuntary contractions, during sexual intercourse, of the pelvic muscles located in the one third below section of the vagina.
Sometimes fears are so intense that the person does not even dare to think of sexual intercourse after foreplay.
Actually, vaginismus does not only manifest itself during sexual intercourse. There may be certain other symptoms.
These symptoms are:
⇒ To be afraid of sexual intercourse with her partner and not to be able to even try to have intercourse (penetration) at all.
⇒ To experience a sexual intercourse that is hard and painful (dyspareunia)
⇒ To have partial sexual intercourse (only a part of the penis can enter the vagina)
⇒ Not to be able to insert pads or tampons into the vagina
⇒ Not to be able to insert a finger into the vagina
⇒ Not to be able to enter vaginal ultrasound
⇒ To wince and fear gynecological examinations and not to be able to take the gynecologist’s examination seat
Vaginismus is not really a disease but a symptom and it is interpreted as a reflection of certain inner troubles. Actually, many of the women who suffer from vaginismus also have other fears (phobias). According to the studies we conducted in the Hera Clinic, these fears can be: having blood sample taken, medical examinations, dental operations, and fears of needle, vertigo, darkness, loneliness, disease, death, cats, dogs and etc.
Women with the vaginismus problem may suffer from acute pain during sexual intercourse and most of the time a sexual intercourse may not be possible at all. Therefore, in order to be diagnosed with vaginismus, there is no such rule as one needs to suffer from pain. (According to DSM IV symptom criteria)
Women with the vaginismus problem may enjoy a sexual relation, and moreover they can reach orgasm by themselves or by the stimulation of their spouses.
However, in time, attempts for intercourse decrease and troubles and desperation increase. Together with the decrease in the attempts for sexual intercourse, people enjoy less from sexual intercourse and reluctance for sexual activity may emerge. Couples, who did not or could not take any treatment, accept themselves in this way, and they either continue their marriage asexually (without sexual intercourse) or unfortunately get divorced.
Women with the vaginismus problem, at first, experience a beautiful and relaxing foreplay, and after, when the time comes for sexual intercourse (penetration), they encounter “a state similar to panic attack”. In this state, women suddenly get excited contracting their bodies with fear, their heart beat rate increase, their respiration rate increase and by pulling themselves back, closing their legs and pushing away their partners, they end the intercourse.
Most of the time contractions are not limited with the vaginal muscles. According to the observations made on more than 350 patients who applied to the Hera Women’s Health Clinic in the last four years, in respect to the level of vaginismus, muscles contractions extent as far as to the body parts such as the hips, back, abdomen, shoulders, and legs and even to the toes. Therefore, at times after the days in which intercourse is attempted, these people may experience wide spread muscle pains (myalgia) due to muscle exhaustion.
These indications that emerge with vaginismus are related to the body’s “reflex responses given as to protect” itself against the body’s expectation to feel pain (or the fear to experience pain). So, the body, as a result of the stimuli from the subconscious, protects itself from an event that it sees as a threat to itself. Thus, the solution will be possible by erasing the fallacious information and beliefs embedded in the subconscious and emplacing correct information instead.
The definitive diagnosis of vaginismus can be made by an experienced gynecologist after a simple assessment. This gynecological examination is painless and very easy and it takes only about a few minutes. Yet, for vaginismus patients this examination, to take the gynecological examination seat, is needlessly scary and uncomfortable. However, only with this gynecological assessment vaginismus can be definitely diagnosed and graded. And this is going to affect the form of the treatment.
Vaginismus, which is claimed to be scarcely encountered in Western sources, is the most frequently seen problem among the people who apply with a sexual dysfunction complaint in Turkey with the %43-73 rates. It is reported that features such as the sexual values in the Turkish culture, the meaning of sexuality, the definition of a sexual intercourse, perception in the society of the sexual dysfunctions might have been effective in the high encounter rate of this problem.
In time, the partners of the women who suffer from vaginismus may also experience problems such as premature ejaculation and erection difficulties.
Some psychological disorders that go along with vaginismus
Vaginismus is not a disease, but actually a medical symptom. As certain psychological problems may surface months-years after the emergence of vaginismus, with the person, there may also be psychological problems simultaneously accompanying vaginismus. Yet sometimes, none of the below problems may exist:
Psychological problems that most frequently accompany vaginismus:
Depression: Depression, which is also called “the state of inwardness”, is seen in many of the vaginismus patients and it surfaces periodically or in severe cases for longer terms.
Social Phobia: It can be defined as refraining from social life, withdrawing into the self, and to avoid new activities or persons and environments.
Phobias (inner fears): As a result of the observations we made at the Hera Clinic, we realized that many patients have inner fears. Most frequently encountered phobias are the ones such as, darkness, loneliness, needle, having blood sample taken, medical examination, dentist, cats, dogs, vertigo and the fear of the elevator.
Somatoform disorders: Somatoform disorders, which are concisely defined as “bodily expressions of inner troubles”, can be widely encountered in vaginismus patients. If the physical troubles (numbness, pitting, pains in various places, and strangulations in the throat) are not affiliated with any organic diseases, they are generally psychological.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Obsessive compulsive disorders that manifest themselves with many symptoms such as extreme meticulousness, washing hands frequently, superstitions and to live according to obsessions have been the subject of many movies and are sometimes a condition of disorder that accompany vaginismus.
Hypochondriasis: Hypochondriac patients, who are defined to have health phobias, do not refrain from creating various problems about themselves and going from one doctor to another. They constantly have complaints about some parts of their bodies. This pathology is rarely seen in vaginismus patients.
Substance Usage: Although it is very rare, there might be the usage of alcohol and cigarettes. Many patients, listening to the advice of their friends, very inaccurately, try to enter into a sexual relation with their partners after taking alcohol. The result is frustration again. Vaginismus patients, who have become addicted to alcohol by taking alcohol more frequently, have become stories to the news programs on TV. One step further, although it is rare in our country, there are patients who have tried drugs in this aim.
As it can be seen, vaginismus is not a disease, but an “acquired failure” ascribed to life and it actually makes up “only the visible part of the iceberg”. Therefore, it is sometimes necessary to search for a solution to the problem deep down. Yet, it is good to know that, overcoming this problem is going to be an element for the person to regain her confidence and pioneer in defeating other accompanying problems.
To stop complaining as “Why did this happen to me!” and to decide to start a treatment as soon as possible, is going to prevent the problems that may come out in the future in the extent you cannot even predict.
The only way to get rid of vaginismus, which is a “delay-avoidance disorder”, is to decide and to start treatment at the right center with the right method. According to NLP (Neurologic Linguistic Program), “to decide to do something is to forsake something else.” For you, taking a break from your career and work and to start this treatment, is going to unburden you of your troubles that you have acquired because of vaginismus and change the way you look at life.