Vaginismus is not a term most persons readily know or understand. The denotative meaning is of such a personal matter that you would never just happen upon its meaning in a word of the day calendar or recreational reading. Vaginismus is a medical condition of very intimate nature affecting women.
Despite the lack of notoriety, it is more common than you’d think. Estimates claim that upwards of 12-17% of women suffer from some form of Vaginismus. Most cases aren’t discovered until late teens or early twenties. The condition isn’t life threatening, nor does it have a direct effect on the female’s reproductive cycle or relative fertility.
But what is it?
Vaginismus is an involuntary reaction on the part of the woman to contract her vagina making penetration of any kind extremely uncomfortable or painful and sometimes impossible. The PC muscle acts of its own accord to close off the vagina. It has nothing to do with conscious efforts or desires of the woman.
Vaginismus is strikingly similar to erectile dysfunction in this regard. The woman suffering from Vaginismus may very much want to engage in intimate activities or medical testing which require vaginal penetration yet is simply unable to overcome the involuntary contractions of the PC muscles and resulting closure of the vagina.
At it’s extreme, even the insertion of a tampon will present a problem, because any type of anticipated penetration, even self-induced, causes the muscles in the vagina to tense up and contract rather than elongating in anticipation. The wider and more sinister implication is that women with vaginismus often cannot contemplate a smear test or any type of internal examination, regardless of the gender of the person conducting the examination. So it isn’t just about rejecting sex from a member of the opposite sex.
What causes it?
Vaginismus is caused by a number of factors, mostly psychological in nature. The chief cause is fear of some sort. It could be fear of pain, fear of the sex act itself, fear and shame from the belief that sex is dirty and wrong, fear of medical procedures involving penetration, fear caused by past abuse. In any case the cycle is self feeding.
If the fear of pain causes the vagina to close and penetration is tried it will be painful. This experience reinforces the fear and makes future contact an even more fearful event.
The cause is buried in the psychology of fear yet most treatments of Vaginismus are much more medical in nature. The most common treatment is medical desensitization therapy. This treatment involves insertion of objects, usually phallic in nature, into the vagina. Over time the objects inserted are increased in size.
This desensitization therapy can be successful, but it does nothing to address the real cause. It is also very difficult for any woman to under go such an intimate and invasive treatment which can create even more emotional trauma.
How Hypnotherapy helps
Hypnotherapy on the other hand does not involve penetration, nudity or intimate contact of any kind. It does not add to the mental or emotional distress of the woman. Instead in a relaxing and safe atmosphere the woman is able to sort through the images of her subconscious. With her hypnotherapist as her guide she can find and focus on the fears and emotions causing the muscles to contract in fear.
Once the fears are processed and released from the subconscious the woman’s body is able to function as it was designed to do.