Vaginal pain that recurs over time can be very challenging for women. A condition known as vaginismus is a cause of vaginal pain in many women. Vaginismus is identified as an involuntarily contractions of the vaginal, or pelvic floor, muscles that occurs during any form of vaginal penetration. These muscle contractions can occur during sexual intercourse, inserting a tampon, or during a routine gynecologic exam. In addition to the physical effects like discomfort in the vaginal area, vaginismus can pose serious emotional and psychological distress as well.
Vaginismus affects women differently and the exact cause of the condition can be challenging to identify. For some women, vaginismus pain is present in all situations and with any object. For others, the pain may only occur in certain circumstances (like during sex, but not with tampons or during exams). Vaginismus is usually linked to emotional triggers like anxiety and fear related to sex. However, it can be unclear for some women which came first, the vaginismus pain or the anxiety. Vaginismus can sometimes stem from a reaction to medical issues like vaginal infections, menopause, giving birth, or as a side effect to certain medications.
Living with vaginismus can negatively affect a woman’s physical and emotional wellbeing over time. By making sex painful or uncomfortable, vaginismus can dramatically reduce a woman’s sex drive. This can have a significant impact on a marriage or other intimate relationships. Thankfully, vaginismus is treatable.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the most effective way to treat vaginismus is a combination of physical and emotional therapies. Treatment often begins by speaking with a counselor or specialist to help become more psychologically and physically comfortable with sex. For some, treatment using vaginal dilatory that exposes them to more vaginal stimulation can be very helpful. The use of vaginal dilators can gradually desensitize a woman to the fear of painful vaginal penetration and give her a sense of control. At Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett we perform Botox® injections to fight vaginismus contractions by relaxing the vaginal muscles.
Although vaginismus can be a source of stress, there are effective treatments and therapies. The first step in treating vaginismus is visiting your board-certified gynecologist to receive a trustworthy diagnosis. Here at Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett, we can discuss your full medical history and conduct a physical evaluation (including a pelvic exam) to help determine the underlying cause of your pain and work on an appropriate treatment plan. Contact Dr. Kristine Gould at Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett to request an appointment today. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more news, tips, and more.