Vaginismus

Though vaginismus was described in 1861, this medical condition is still kept as a secret by many women who suffer from vaginismus. Women do not discuss this condition with their family, friends and even their doctors. In many cases, vaginismus is kept as a “private pain” secret. This causes distress and causes interpersonal problems such as keeping a woman from pursuing an intimate relationship or impacting their current relationship in a negative way. Women with vaginismus live in a world of isolation and have no support. Shame, emabarassment and feelings of inadequacies are the result of keeping this condition a secret. Open discussion about vaginismus is critical in overcoming vaginismus.

Vaginismus is described in the DSM 5 as a genital pelvic pain/penetration disorder [1] and as such is considered to be a medical condition for which insurance coverage is often available. I do not consider vaginismus to be a “mental disorder”. It is listed in the DSM 5 because of the marked fear and anxiety to penetration. It is also covered with ICD medical codes for insurance.

Vaginismus Resources

There are a number of resources that are helpful to women who want to learn more about this condition:

1.     Vaginismus symptoms, vaginismus diagnosis and vaginismus treatment are discussed on my website PacikVaginismus.com which gives the reader a good starting point to better understand vaginismus.

2.     It is important to understand that vaginismus presents as a spectrum from less severe to more severe. Women with less severe vaginismus are often able to treat themselves with a dilation program as outlined in my one hour video “Understanding and Treating Vaginismus”.  For women with more severe vaginismus, professional help is available using many treatment modalities. This is discussed in my book “When Sex Seems Impossible. Stories of Vaginismus & How You Can Achieve Intimacy”.            

3.      A number of scientific papers on vaginismus are available. Vaginismus Treatment programs that are effective include physical therapy, sex counseling and the Pacik Botox multimodal program. A combination of programs to treat both the psychologic (fear and anxiety) and the physical (vaginal spasm) is helpful. Please read the published Clinical Opinion “Understanding and Treating Vaginismus”.

4.     Engage with other women who have vaginismus by joining Vaginismus Forums. There are a number of private and public forums that allow for an exchange of information. These Forums will simply ask you some questions to make sure you are legitimate. The Maze Women’s Sexual Health group now maintains the VaginismusMD Forum that I started many years ago. This Forum has been instrumental in helping women open up to other women who have gone through the same struggles.

Vaginismus Summary

Begin your journey in vaginismus treatment by educating yourself using the resources listed, by being honest with those who care about you and seeking the type of treatment that will be most effective for you. After more than 100 years vaginismus should no longer be a secret.

Vaginismus References

[1] American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Washington D.C. (2013)

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