What is Vaginismus?
Vaginismus is a worldwide phenomenon that is affecting many vagina owners. You are not alone! Vaginal pain is one of the most common issues that my clients are facing and it is also one of the easiest problems to treat. So chin up!
It is important to understand how vaginismus works so you will be able to tackle this predicament.
It is essentially fear of penetration. Your muscles have learned to respond with painful contractions. Perhaps you have had a trauma of a sexual nature? Or you have been in an abusive relationship? Or perhaps you have shameful ideologies about having sex implemented by your parents or peers? The causes can be multiple. Nevertheless, they are all connected to anxiety and fear of being penetrated.
The point of the treatment is to teach yourselves and your vaginas to associate sex and penetration with pleasure and not with pain and stress.
Do not worry if the treatment does not work straight away! Changing the mind-body patterns is a long process. It helps incredibly to get excited about regaining your sex life and planning for what you can do with it when the goals are achieved, also about the process itself.
The treatments are not supposed to cause you more pain and simply ‘stretch’ it out. On the contrary! It is supposed to relax you and invite your vagina to be calm and give you a well-deserved pleasure!
This condition is best addressed by sex therapy and physiotherapy.
Ask a sexologist online for guidance and an appointment now.
Low Libido in Women
In sexual therapy is it very important not to pathologise issues and not make a heist diagnosis. Sexuality and all things related are a very subjective matter, especially when it comes to libido and desire. What may seem like low libido to one person it may be just fine and normal to another.
There are many couples who do not have sex very frequently and are just as happy and committed as the ones that do it many times a week or in a day!
The issue, however, begins when you would like to be more desirous, but you can’t seem to bring yourself to want it as much. The problem may also arise when one of the partners is more willing than the other. In sex therapy, this is called a ‘mismatch in libido’.
Lowered libido in women is the most prominent issue that females are facing. There are many adjustments that you can make in your life and therapies which you can try to regain or discover your sex drive. It is, however, important not to push yourself and know your limits!
It is very important for the couple to understand each others’ outlook on sex and sexuality.
Share your feelings, thoughts, and experiences with your partner. Talk openly about your desires, needs, dislikes, concerns, and inhibitions. Be accepting and open-minded towards your partner. It will only work if both of you feel comfortable and accepted during the conversation.
What did you learn about sexuality and sex in your childhood and adolescence? (marriage, masturbation, petting, intercourse, oral sex, orgasm, how should men and women act during sex)
Who taught you this?
What did it mean to you at the time?
What does it mean to you now?
What are your attitudes and beliefs about sexuality?
What is ok and what is not ok during lovemaking?
What do you believe is ok but feels not ok?
What do you believe about intercourse? Oral sex? Experimentation? Sharing sexual fantasies?
What do you think about masturbating privately? Masturbating while your partner watches? Mutual stimulation or taking turns?
What do you really like about couple sex?
Tell each other what sexually you appreciate about one another.
Discuss any concerns that you may have. (Remember to do it with empathy, warmth, and respect)
As a bonding exercise, you can also gaze into each other’s eyes without talking for 2-5min a day. It may seem a bit weird at first, but it’s always better to be weird together! This technique was confirmed to work well for couples by research as well.
Relaxation is the Key
Because Vaginismus is so tightly linked to anxiety it is vital that you address this problem first. I have plenty of useful resources like meditation and mindfulness exercises and more in other blog posts. Make use of them to create healthy habits. Remember that physical exercises are crucial for decreasing stress! Also, decreasing alcohol consumption, keeping vitamin levels in check, and eating healthy can keep your anxiety at bay. Many types of drugs can also increase anxiety and lower your libido such as illicit drugs, antipsychotics, or antidepressants.
Contact your GP to discuss your health and its’ impact on your sex life.
Pelvic Muscles Relaxation
Contact your Physio before starting any muscle relaxation exercises! You need to adjust your health situation to exercises.
Goal: Relaxing your pelvic muscles (PM).
The point of this step is to identify and learn to consciously use your PM for physical relaxation. This is a ‘don’t be a thigh ass’ exercise. Our body tightens in response to the pressures, tensions, and burdens of life. This includes unconsciously tightening your PM. By learning to relax, you give your body the foundation for easy penetration. If your PM relax, the rest of the body will follow.
PM Basic Training:
Contract (tighten) your PM and hold for three seconds, then relax it for three seconds while you consciously focus on the sensations. Do this ten times at three different times during the day. At first, it might be difficult to tighten and hold the muscle for three seconds, but do what you can (do it for one or two seconds) and build up your strength over time.
The PM Continuum:
This exercise will increase your awareness of sensations and control over your PM. Visualise that your PM can be tightened in varying degrees of intensity. Imagine a continuum from 0 to 10, at first with three stops: 0 (relaxed), 5 (medium), and 10 (tight). Practice moving from one point to another, holding the PM at the level for three seconds, then relax. For example, tighten the PM to 10 and hold for three seconds, then return to relaxation for three seconds, then tighten to 5 and hold for three seconds, and then relax. Practice this until it becomes easy. Once you learn this, extend the continuum from three stopping points to five stopping points (10-0-5-0-7-0-3-0).
This is yet another breathing exercise created especially for your pelvis. It is supposed to help you relax and make the relaxation a more habitual response.
Have a seat on a chair or on the floor. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to start the exercise.
Take a breath in, and try to focus your mind on your pelvic area. You may feel a little bit of tension as you are just starting the exercise. When you are breathing out try to envision your breath not going through your nose or mouth but down to your chest, belly, pelvis, and onto the floor. I know it may seem strange at first but our mind works very well with symbolism and imagination.
Try to focus on your breath and on your pelvis. Keep breathing like this for 5-10 min. You should be feeling relaxation in your pelvis as you breathe out and as your imaginary breath goes through your pelvis onto the floor.
A daily routine like that can help you relax your pelvis at will and be more aware of the sensations in it.
Listen to the audio recording below and try to follow the instructions.
Goal: Enjoy relaxed, nonerotic, sensual touch.
We literally NEED physical touch. It reduces anxiety, soothes and erases grief, and reduces frustration. In a healthy, intimate relationship, touch and sexuality are well-integrated. Expanding your awareness and increasing the variety and balance of the types of touch that you give and receive will enrich your sensual and sexual pleasure.
Discuss the five types of touch below. Then estimate the percent that each type contributes to total touch in your relationship. Then rate the percent of each touch type you want to share in the future. Appreciate your different perspectives, and discuss how you can blend your desires. Discuss how you would like to alternate the amounts of each touch from time to time, from mood to mood. This helps to create different sensual and sexual scenarios.
|Current % of Touch |% of Touch you want|
| You | Your Partner | You | Your Partner |
Affectionate Touch: clothes on; warm, friendly, gentle; hugging; kissing; holding hands
Sensual Touch: cuddling, pleasant, cozy, relaxing, soothing; embracing;non-genital touching
Playful Touch: comfortable, secure – mix non-genital and genital touching
Erotic Touch: manual, oral, rubbing – erotic stimulation to orgasm
Intercourse Touch: penis-vagina
Wheel of Consent
Betty Martin and Robyn Dalzen in the book “Art of Giving and Receiving” are putting forward an idea that there is a difference between ALLOWING (…others to act as they please) and ACCEPTING (…a gift that we want and will benefit from). Even though an action is done to us we can allow it for the benefit of the other person or accept a gift in the form of action from a partner. They can sometimes go hand in hand so both us and our partner will be benefitting. We need to remember to make sure which one are we experiencing and also if our partner is allowing or accepting.
It can be confusing as to when are we giving or receiving a gift. For example, if your partner is performing oral sex and you do not enjoy it but they take pleasure in performing it you may allow them to perform it so that they can have that ‘gift’ but you will not be ‘accepting a gift’ yourself even though the action is meant to pleasure you. You need to communicate that and come up with a solution so that your partner doesn’t get the wrong idea. Others’ pleasure doesn’t always equal your own pleasure, but we can also gain from seeing our partner happy as well.
We can GIVE by doing something to someone but also by letting them do something to us. And we can RECEIVE by accepting desired action being done to us or by doing something that we want to do to someone else. So GIVING touch can be to my benefit or my partner’s (can be both at the same time) and RECEIVING touch can be to my benefit or my partner’s (can be both at the same time)
The next few exercises will be based on this idea and will teach you proper communication. You can try using those 2 terms as well: “I allow you” or “I want to” (do it or you to do it = “I accept your gift”).
When you are sufficiently relaxed, and trust and balance are restored in your relationship I finally suggest taking it to the bedroom!
The goal of the exercise is to explore the sensations in your body, increase pleasure and overcome barriers to enjoying the sensual touch. It will show you that touch can be pleasurable without being sexually arousing.
Set aside an hour and pick a private, softly lit, warm, and comfortable place. Undress and prepare yourself to be relaxed and focused. For 15 minutes, pleasure the entire back of your partner’s nude body; then for 15 minutes pleasure her/his front of the body with the exception of genitals and breasts. After that let your partner reciprocate in a similar manner avoiding nipples and genitals.
It is not designed to be a massage that is loosening up muscles but gives sensual pleasure. You can tell your partner what you like the most. You can also guide their hand and give comments which will show your appreciation and encourage them. For example ‘Your touch is so soothing’ or ‘When you kiss me on the arm I feel very secure and nice’. If the touch is not to your liking, speak up about it but be gentle and appreciative. Let the rest of the time be quiet so that you can focus on the sensations.
Focus on the sensations in your body during this exercise. Feel your body when you are being touched or when you are touching your partner. Try not to excite your partner sexually, and don’t go too close to genital or erogenous areas. If you do experience an erection just focus on the touch and it should subside. If you find it hard to stop your erections try not to look at your partner too much and not fantasise. Experiment with sensations: touch, kiss, lick, suck or caress your partner. You can explore other accessories such as massage oil, talcum powder, caressing with feathers, silk, fleece, or flannel.
Pay attention to here-and-now and to your pleasure. Your partner’s pleasure is also important but to have a great sex life both parties need to learn to experience an individual pleasure.
This exercise should not be used as foreplay. It is best to avoid sex for the next 3 hours to protect the relaxing nature of this exercise.
Sensate Focus Therapy
This therapy had tremendous success in treating Vaginismus.
It involves both partners but is focused on the troubled vagina owner. It can also be adjusted for singles. It just means that you will need to communicate to yourself what is best and experiment by yourself.
You can start the exercise with Relaxed Pleasuring.
Start with non-genital touch. Let your partner touch you but nowhere near your genital or erogenous areas such as breasts. Discuss your erogenous zones and where exactly they are, a few centimeters can sometimes make a big difference. You do not want to be uncomfortable during this exercise, it’s all about creating your boundaries and communicating them. Comment on what types of touch work for you best. You can politely tell your partner to change the type, pace, and strength of touch. Let them also ask you questions about what is more pleasurable. Communication is the key! Do this for 5-10 min.
Rate how erogenous is each of your zones from lowest to highest and start with the lowes working your way up. This part of the exercise involves erogenous areas but does not involve the inner part of the vulva. Let your partner continue to touch you and you can keep commenting on your sensations and what is most arousing for you.
Add genital touch. Let your partner experiment with ways in which they touch you on your genitals. Keep talking, ask questions and have fun with it!
If you will be ready and happy to try light penetration your partner can try to insert one of their fingers inside of your vagina. Remember that you are completely in control of the situation and you can say stop at any point. If the insertion is successful you can proceed with exploration. Your partner can experiment with positions of the finger, start to thrust, or even search for your G and A spots! Keep talking and commenting on what works best.
Stimulation of clitoris from the inside & finding 'A' Spot
if you just push the finger inside you might not find it without being aroused. The clitoris is much bigger than we think. Only a small part of it is visible and it is extremely sensitive. It has much more nerve endings than a penis! When a woman gets aroused it swells when the blood flow is increased.
Before exploring make sure that your bladder is empty. Insert your finger or a toy. You should be lightly poking up so that you are pointing at your belly.
‘A’ spot on the other hand is deeper in the vagina. . Explore and change the position of your finger. Remember that clitoris is located between the vagina and your belly.
G Spot & Squirting
Finding the legendary ‘G’ Spot!
It is situated near the vaginal entry at the top wall of the vagina (the one next to the belly and your bladder).
When we start to grow as a fetus we all look the same. The division into different sexes begins with the genitals. However, our genitals are constructed from the same tissue. So for example urethra in men is very similar to a ‘G’ Spot in women. Many men experience pleasure while their prostate is stimulated via the anus.
Similarly in women, ‘G’ Spot is constructed from urethral tissue with any blood vessels which swell during stimulation. Explore your vagina and try to notice the difference in tissue structure. The ‘G’ Spot will be less smooth than the rest of the vagina. It is also not really a ‘Spot’ it is a 1-inch area at the top of the entry to the vagina, close to the clitoris. You can stimulate it with your fingers, dildo, or a vibrator. It can cause some women to ejaculate (squirt). The squirting fluid is not urine!
This will not be pleasurable for every single woman. Some will find it too intense and not desirable, some will not feel anything special and some can find it arousing. So do not be disturbed if your ‘G’ Spot does not give you pleasure! Everyone is different!
Self-exploration is a big part of gaining more pleasure with your partner later on and decreasing influences from any unhealthy body stigmatization ideas.
All vulvas are beautiful, there are many shapes and sizes not only the ones portrayed in pornographic videos which usually have little to do with real life.
Learning to love your body and have more compassion for your vaginas and yourselves is crucial for being more sexually flexible and fulfilled.
Get a small mirror that you are able to hold in your hand. Put it in between your legs and have look!
Try to look at your vulva from different angles.
Open up the outer lips of the vagina (labia) and also explore.
This exercise is supposed to help you make friends with your genitals, see them for what they really are, and appreciate them for the pleasure which they can give you. Many women struggling with Vaginismus do not have the best relationship with their vaginas. And no wonders! They don’t allow for penetration and cause pain. However, if this relationship won’t be changed the fear of penetration will not just go away. More appreciation and love brings more relaxation and therefore less pain.
Increasing Libido and Final Remarks
To increase your libido not only good health is needed but also a balance and happiness in your relationship if you are in one.
Explore the exercises in the post Increasing Your Libido to build your healthy sexual patterns.
Remember that very often lower libido can also be linked to lowered self-esteem and body-image issues. A great book which can help you with overcoming those problems is ‘Women Don’t owe You Pretty’. It explores women’s self-worth, current body ideals, and socio-cultural body shaming. Negative body image and being negatively self-consious in bed were connected to lower desire and haveing less pleasure during sex.
Coming to terms with your past experiences and unhealthy beliefs and patterns is also very important!