Heard of vaginismus? It actually affects 20 percent of the female population. Expert gynaecologist Dr. Fevzi Shakir explains all we need to know, including what it is and what symptoms we need to look out for
What is Vaginismus?
Imagine your vaginal muscles involuntarily contracting anytime you went to use a tampon or have sex? That’s exactly what happens in a condition known as vaginismus that actually affects around 20 percent of the female population, making it far more common than most people realise.
Commonly caused by a dysfunction in the pelvic floor muscles and can make inserting tampons or intercourse difficult and painful – which leaves women feeling frustrated and can hinder their quality of life.
it is the body’s automatic reaction to the fear of vaginal penetration
Although vaginismus is involuntary contractions of the vagina, it is the body’s automatic reaction to the fear of vaginal penetration, and though it’s not something that you can control, it still affects many women, so if this sounds like you, you really aren’t alone.
Initially it is important to have a thorough history check of the symptoms with a healthcare professional. They will perform a pelvic examination to exclude any obvious abnormalities or causes that could be contributing to your vaginismus symptoms.
What are the symptoms?
According to the NHS the common signs for Vaginismus are:
- Difficulty with inserting tampons
- Difficulty with vaginal penetration during sex
- Burning or stinging pain during sex
If vaginismus is suspected then there are various options which can help to manage this.
How can vaginismus be treated?
Treatment usually involves sessions with a psychosexual counsellor or pelvic floor physiotherapist. A one to one with a psychosexual counsellor will significantly help to explain and explore what some of the potential triggers are for this involuntary pelvic floor contraction.
A pelvic floor physiotherapist would help you to learn relaxation techniques and exercises that can help you to control your pelvic floor.
Treatment would then be followed by the use of vaginal trainers. These are devices which can be inserted into the vagina and help your pelvic floor muscles to relax – they come in different sizes, so you can start out small and with whatever feels comfortable.
It can be a lengthy process but excellent results can be achieved, which can significantly improve a woman’s quality of life.
More Ask The Gynaecologist
Mr Fevzi Shakir is a Consultant Gynaecologist specialising in Advanced Minimally Invasive Gynaecological Endoscopic Surgery.
He has completed a 2 year Senior Clinical Research Fellowship in Advanced Gynaecological Endoscopic Surgery, based at the Minimal Access Therapy Training Unit (MATTU) in Guildford.
In 2014 he was elected as a council member in charge of the trainee portfolio for the British Society for Gynaecological Endoscopy (BSGE) and re elected in 2016.
He has founded a trainee group as part of the BSGE called RIGS (Registrars in Gynaecological Surgery) aiming to improve training and resources.
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