This is the second of four articles that will be on EmpowHER dealing with the problem of vaginismus. The third will describe how you can treat vaginismus.
As we described in the first article, vaginismus is an involuntary tensing of the muscles at the opening of the vagina that makes penetration difficult and painful. Obviously this affects you AS A COUPLE. Let’s create an imaginary couple, Jane and Tom, to illustrate a typical sequence of events.
Like the woman in the first article, Jane has had her uterus and ovaries removed. Without her ovaries’ production of estrogen, Jane has found that she doesn’t produce much natural vaginal lubrication and, over time, even when using artificial lubricant, intercourse has become painful.
She tries to just ignore the pain, not complain and feel pleasure but that hasn’t helped. Tom, like most men, is not so easily fooled. He senses her fear and he can feel that her vagina is too tight. He has tried to be gentle but he’s not sure what to do. A few times he’s ejaculated while they’re trying to start intercourse (penetration). Recently he’s lost his erection and then just given up. They’re each trying not to blame the other. They know that neither of them WANTS this to happen but.....
Now both Tom and Jane feel anxious when they think about actually having sex. They have come to expect a problem, not closeness and satisfaction. In the past month they’ve only tried twice. It’s amazing how many excuses there are. What can they do?
What about using estrogen? Jane’s doctor has been very positive about her taking estrogen-therapy so she’s been using it for 2 months now. She uses some vaginal estrogen-cream in addition to wearing an estrogen patch. Many of her symptoms such as hot flashes and lack of vaginal lubrication have gotten better. But she’s very disappointed that the pain and tightness when she and Tom try to have intercourse is still a problem.
Tom loves the Internet so he’s been doing a lot of online reading about vaginismus. He learned that he and Jane should stop trying to have intercourse or any kind of penetration that hurts. He read about the use of “dilators.” What he read made sense so they decided to try it.
“How to Treat Vaginismus” is the next article in this series. It describes the treatment process in detail and most couples should be able to overcome the problem in one to two weeks.Read more in Advancing Health After Hysterectomy