“Why does it hurt when I have sex?” • VAGINISMUS

Time to get down with some vagina-based medical Latin. VAGINISMUS is the involuntary tightening of the pelvic floor. It makes sex painful, if not impossible, for around 1 in 500 women in the US (we couldn’t find any data for Asia - something we’re getting used to when it comes to matters of female health). 

“Think of it like being cock-blocked by your own vagina,” said one of our community members in Shanghai whose vagina, even where she’s feeling “really f*cking up for it,” decides to clamp shut on her like a venus fly trap whenever anything comes close to going inside.

And it’s not just penis’ that evoke such a reaction in her nether regions; tampons, gynae swabs, sex toys - the list goes on. 

For years she, like many women, dismissed this as 'normal' - deeply frustrating, sure - but nonetheless unavoidable. 

But here's the thing, friends, painful sex ain’t 'normal' and shouldn’t be suffered in silence. We’re here to break down the facts and offer some solutions, with the help of Dr. Lina Li from our friends DeltaHealth in Shanghai. 

 What is it? - By Dr.Lina

Vaginismus refers to the involuntary contraction of pelvic and vaginal muscles, which can make inserting anything into your vagina an ordeal. 

The key word here is involuntary! Even when a woman wants to have sex, her muscles may spasm and her vaginal opening will tighten ~ making penetration burn and hurt.

The vagina may completely clamp up, blocking entry, as if it were a brick wall.

The discomfort can extend beyond just sex. Women with global vaginismus will struggle inserting anything into their vaginas (tampons, fingers, medical equipment). 

The symptoms, however, for some girls arise only in certain situations (situational vaginismus). For example, tampons may be a monthly necessity to you, but just the idea of a penis entering your vagina can make you nervous. 

Additionally, pain may present itself from the beginning (like when first trying to insert a tampon) or develop after a time of normal penetration. This is because all our bodies are different & no experience is completely alike :)

Am I doing something wrong?

For many women, Vaginismus comes as a surprise; unexplained tightness, discomfort, pain, and entry problems are unexpectedly experienced during intercourse attempts. 

It can be triggered by physical events as simple as having inadequate foreplay or lubrication, or non-physical emotions as simple as general anxiety. So it is important that it be understood that Vaginismus is not the woman’s fault. Once triggered, the involuntary muscle tightness occurs without conscious direction; the woman has not intentionally “caused” or directed her body to tighten and cannot simply make it stop.

Myth busting!

1. Sex should be painful

There are times when intercourse can be painful: your first time being penetrated, if you aren't sexually aroused enough, or if you have excessive dryness (lube is your bff, girl!). However, sex should not regularly be painful!! If you avoid sex because it causes you repeated discomfort, it's time to seek out your doctor.

2. The pain will go away on its own

If you google 'painful sex cures', you'll find a handful of well-intending strangers telling you to pour yourself a large glass of wine and just relax. While we love wine as much as the next girl, it is not a cure to serious health issues!

3. It’s all in your head!

Technically… yes, Vaginismus can have psychological origins. Our minds are that powerful! But just because something is created by the brain, it doesn’t mean it’s not real! The pain you feel IS real, and just like a physical issue would, physiological problems should be treated by a healthcare professional. 

4. Every woman with Vaginismus has been sexually assaulted 

Painful sex can be a result of trauma, such as sexual assault. However, not every woman that experiences pain has a history of abuse. As we’ve mentioned the cause of vaginismus can be anything from UTIs, emotional triggers, menopause, childbirth and more…

Will I ever enjoy sex (again)?

"Vaginismus is highly treatable." ~ Dr. Lina

First off, we should clarify that sex ≠ penis inside vagina. Painful penetration should not stop you from having a great sex life!! 

Now that we’ve got that out of the way: yes, vaginismus can be cured :)

Successful vaginismus treatment does not require drugs, surgery, hypnosis, nor any other complex invasive technique - so there's no reason to be afraid and avoid seeking medical help!!

Effective treatment approaches combine pelvic floor control exercises, insertion or dilation training, pain elimination techniques, transition steps, and exercises designed to help women identify, express and resolve any contributing emotional components.

The key is finding what works for your body & mind! 

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If inserting something into your vagina isn't for you, you should try our organic cotton pads! They're made to protect our vaginas from irritations and discomforts - because although vaginas are bloody powerful, they're also sensitive!

~check them out here~