Dr. Katz describes vaginismus.
Vaginismus is a condition where the muscles surrounding the vagina tense up. This may be as a result, for example, of coercive or unpleasant sexual experiences where perhaps there has been unwanted penetration or penetration that happens too early before the woman is aroused, and it hurt. So the next time the woman is in a sexual situation, she anticipates that pain and tenses up, right?
And I think we all do that, right? Some of us, when we go to the dentist, right, we are really, really anxious, you know, and you can feel your shoulders lifting, so imagine that happening to the genital area of a woman, and the problem is that it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.
You are afraid of the pain so you tense up, and it can be so bad that some women can’t even, I mean they certainly can’t even insert a tampon. Sometimes even something as small as a Q-tip cannot be inserted, and it’s a really long process to desensitize the woman. Really it’s a condition of over-sensitization, and there’s a huge mental and emotional aspect to it, too.
About Dr. Katz, R.N., Ph.D.:
My professional life is focused on providing information, education and counseling to people with cancer and their partners about sexual changes that can occur during and after treatment. But there is another important aspect to this work; I want every cancer patient to be able to have a discussion about sexuality with their health care providers.