Here’s What to Know About Vaginismus—and What to Do if Your Partner Has It via Mens Health

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The more you understand it, the better you can help.

Have you and your partner tried to have penetrative sex, but it is incredibly painful for her? Do all angles seem to have the same result? While there are quite a few things that can make sex painful for a woman, if this is a consistent problem, then she might have vaginismus, a treatable but frightening condition that makes sex pretty much unbearable for a woman.

As with anything your partner is going through, the more you understand it, the better you can help. If you’re not familiar, vaginismus is “muscle spasms around the vagina which literally tighten the vagina, making penetration for sex very uncomfortable,” Mary Jane Minkin, M.D. OB/GYN at Yale University tells Men’s Health.

These spasms are completely out of your partner’s control.

“It’s not something that the woman is trying to do—in fact, she’s trying not to tense up, but it’s almost as if her body isn’t allowing her,” Leah Millheiser, MD, an OB/GYN at Stanford University, tells Men’s Health. “It’s almost an anxiety disorder of the pelvis. [As a woman], your head is saying yes, your vagina is saying no. And it’s not just the vaginal muscles, it’s the muscles of the legs, it’s the muscles of the abdomen.”

For a woman, the process to overcome it can feel incredibly frustrating and uncontrollable. Treatment for vaginismus can involve dilators, pelvic floor therapy, and, potentially, cognitive behavior therapy. As their partner, knowing as much as you can about the condition, and being there when they need you, can make a big difference. So, let’s get you educated and ready to help. This is what you need to know if your partner has been diagnosed with vaginismus.

Vaginismus is caused environmentally

There are so many different causes for vaginismus. Sadly, vaginismus is generally caused due to your partner experiencing some sort of trauma or forced association with sex.

“There are many reasons a woman may have vaginismus,” Minkin says. “She may have had a bad vaginal infection at one point, and was very uncomfortable from it—and the memory of that pain lingers, and she continues to tighten when she even thinks of penetration with sex. She may have been sexually assaulted at one point, and she [goes] back to thoughts about that assault when she is thinking about sex. She may have been taught for whatever reason that sex is sinful or evil, and she thinks about it, and tightens up.”

She may not be willing to discuss possible causes with you, and you need to respect that. Cognitive behavior therapy can help her work through these issues when she’s ready.

The best thing you can have is patience

Remember, your partner is currently having an involuntary reaction to sex. “Vaginismus is not something that is going to go away overnight with therapy … patience is a virtue in this one,” Millheiser says. “If you think about it, that woman wants nothing more than to be intimate with her partner, and it’s almost as if she feels like she’s lost control over her vagina during sex. Now, this therapy is allowing her to gain control back. It’s just remembering to be supportive. Follow her lead.”

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You can help her with physical therapy

If you’re partner would like, try to help her with her physical therapy exercises. This may include dilator therapy, which involves inserting cylindrical devices into the vagina to help stretch it out.

“It’s very important for the partner to be involved with the dilator therapy. They can use dilators and eventually move to fingers and eventually do more,” Dr. Millheiser says. “Again, that allows the woman to become comfortable with her partner, taking control again. It does breed intimacy, too. When you’re doing dilator therapy with your partner, you can turn it into more of a foreplay type scenario, but making sure that the woman is the guiding force.”

Ask her what angle you should insert it, how far, and at what speed. Little by little, you two can work through this together.

She needs support, not pressure

The most important thing you can do for your partner is be supportive and listen to her needs.

“Be encouraging. I hear this a lot from my female patients: ‘My husband or my boyfriend every day is saying, Have you done your dilators? Have you done your dilators?‘” Millheiser says. “So put less focus on ‘did you do it?’ and more on ‘what can I do to help you? You guide me, you tell me how you need me to help you with this, I’m here for you, I understand.’”

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This article was reposted by VuVagirl. VuVatech offers safe Magnetic Vaginal Dilators for women who suffer for Vulvodynia, Vaginismus and other pelvic pain conditions.

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Learn more about Magentic Dilator Therapy at www.vuvatech.com 

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