Sex can be many things: fun, spontaneous, exciting and relaxing, but for some people, sex is a source of fear and anxiety.
It is a serious psychological and physical problem that requires treatment. It is also an exceedingly common cause of continuing sexual pain and the primary female cause of sexless /unconsummated marriages. If the thought of vaginal penetration makes you freeze, understand that you are not alone. One must remember that vaginismus is not triggered deliberately or intentionally by women. It occurs involuntarily without their intentional control and often without any awareness on their part. The good news is that this is also one of the most successfully treatable female sexual disorders. Treatment usually follows a gradual step-by-step process and success rates are nearly 100%.
In many cultures including India, it is believed that "breaking" the hymen causes pain, hence the belief, that if a woman is a virgin she should in fact experience pain on first intercourse. The hymen is a small very thin and elastic membrane which covers the vaginal entrance. Generally, it is open in the centre to let out out the menstrual blood and breaks normally due to physical exercise like cycling, athletic, dancing etc. Although hymenal tissue has largely worn away by adolescence; women expect intercourse to hurt to the point of bleeding. This expectation of pain causes severe anxiety in some cases, which can turn minor discomfort into pain.
The vaginal tightness in vaginismus results from the involuntary tightening of the pelvic floor, especially the pubococcygeus muscles. One of the symptoms of vaginismus is involuntary muscle spasms in the vagina for which Kegel exercises can help. Women with can do exercises to gain control of and relax the muscles around the vagina. The approach is called progressive desensitization to get comfortable with insertion.
The more you practice, the more effective your treatment will be. However, the most important thing is to keep doing your exercises consistently. First, squeeze the same muscles you use to stop the flow of urine when urinating:
1. Squeeze the muscles.
2. Hold for 2 to 10 seconds.
3. Relax the muscles.
4. Do about 20 reps at a time.
You can do them as many times a day as is comfortable. There is no ideal position to exercise. Standing, lying on the back while spreading legs or sitting with lifted legs are different options every woman is free to choose the most appropriate position for her.
Sex toys come in many shapes and there are many phallic-like objects (vibrating or not) which look very "realistic" and which often are simply frightening for women with vaginismus. A vaginal dilator or a set of dilators are sometimes recommended for the treatment of vaginismus. These are sexual health tools specially designed for therapy and are much more appropriate due to the gradual sizes.
It is very difficult to define a specific time duration for treatment as it depends on each woman’s personal situation, their motivation and perseverance in doing the dilatation based exercises. Several weeks are usually necessary to overcome vaginismus. It is important not to shame yourself for not feeling as you think other people are expecting you to feel. Take your time, consult your therapist and remember there's no right or wrong way to have sex. Rather than feeling guilty, ashamed, or humiliated by your feelings, consult your therapist, so that you can successfully work through these problems.