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Vaginismus is a medical condition that can cause pain with sex, pain when inserting a tampon or pain during a gynecological exam.
According to Vaginismus.com, two women in 1000 experience vaginismus, however that number could be higher. Many times, women don’t seek help or are given an incorrect diagnosis.
Vaginismus affects a woman’s ability to engage in vaginal penetration. Vaginismus causes pain with sexual intercourse, pain with penetration, pain with inserting a tampon and pain during gynecological exams. This pain is the result of an involuntary vaginal muscle spasm, which makes any kind of vaginal penetration painful or impossible. The spasm happens on its own, and the severity of the pain varies from woman to woman (source).
Vaginismus is caused by spasming or tightness in the pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that connects from the pubic bone to the tailbone. These muscles can become tight or overworked just like any other muscle in your body.
This is comparable to developing headaches because they constantly were stressed out and holding their shoulders in a tightened position toward their neck. This would eventually lead them to develop tension headaches.
Pelvic floor awareness, pelvic pain issues and our understanding of the pelvic floor muscles is still in its infancy. Because of this, vaginismus terminology encompasses a lot of things. Saying someone has vaginismus is is like saying someone has low back spasming. That spasming could have countless causes.
Every part of your body is interconnected. If you’ve been diagnosed with vaginismus, the alignment on the outside of your body could be affecting your pelvic floor.
If you have alignment changes outside of your pelvic floor and those muscles are tense, they can pull on the muscles on the inside (think tug-of-war from the inside to the outside). Alternatively, the pelvic floor can hold tension due to imbalances on the outside of the body. Either way, that tension could be causing or contributing to the muscle spasms that cause vaginismus.
Physical therapy can help you to release the tension in your pelvic floor muscles. If your body has been out of alignment for an extended period of time, the musculature will be out of balance. Physical therapy will help you realign and balance the musculature and the joints, as well as re-educate the muscles on how to work properly. If the muscles have been impaired or compensated for an extended period of time, they will probably not function properly on their own after the tension is released.
Manual therapy to address the external muscles around the pelvis, abdomen, hip, buttocks, legs and low back. Along with improving internal pelvic floor tone and reducing trigger points. Specifically, myofascial release of the buttocks and abdomen, as well as trigger point release of specific musculature in and around the pelvic floor and external musculature of the pelvis, hip and low back.
There’s certain other treatments, like medical therapeutic yoga. In addition, incorporating specifically medical directed yoga has also helped improve alignment and release of the pelvic floor. Specific targeted breath work (diaphragmatic breathing) can also help.
Incorporating sex counseling can also help bridge the treatment and rehabilitation to then get back into functioning in an enjoyable healthy sex life.
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