Vaginismus is considered one of the most successfully treatable female sexual disorders. Many studies have shown treatment success rates approaching nearly 100%. Treatment resolution follows a manageable, step-by-step process.
Vaginismus is highly treatable. Successful vaginismus treatment does not require drugs, surgery, hypnosis, nor any other complex invasive technique. Effective treatment approaches combine pelvic floor control exercises, insertion or dilation training, pain elimination techniques, transition steps, and exercises designed to help women identify, express and resolve any contributing emotional components. Treatment steps can often be completed at home, allowing a woman to work at her own pace in privacy, or in cooperation with her health care provider.
The sexual pain, tightness, burning or penetration difficulties caused by vaginismus are completely treatable, with high success rates for treatment. Couples are often amazed by the sudden life-changing effects of treatment. Those with penetration difficulties, or pain during intercourse, normally transition to pain-free and pleasurable intercourse following a step-by-step approach.
Many of the steps to treat vaginismus are counter-intuitive and not immediately obvious. As failure at any point inhibits recovery (experiencing discomfort tends to intensify vaginismus - see 'cycle of pain') and can cause avoidance or abandonment of progress, it is best to approach vaginismus with an educated understanding to ensure success in dealing with it.
To aid women in getting proper treatment direction, we have assembled a comprehensive program in book/kit form as outlined below. The self-help program is a straight-forward, step-by-step approach used by many treatment professionals to successfully guide women through the complete process of overcoming vaginismus.
Treatment steps can usually be completed at home using a self-help approach, allowing a woman to work at her own pace in privacy, or in cooperation with her health care provider or specialist. Easy-to-follow instructions, supplemented with descriptive illustrations and helpful strategies, make the process a positive, successful experience. At the completion of the steps, pain and penetration problems due to vaginismus are typically fully resolved.
Step 1 provides an overview of vaginismus and how sexual pain, tightness, burning sensations or penetration difficulties may result from it. This approach helps women to get started by being proactive about their sexual health as understanding vaginismus is fundamental to the process of overcoming it. Topics also include how to obtain a solid diagnosis, treatment methods, relationship issues, pelvic/relaxation techniques, conditioned responses and muscle memories.
A balanced approach is taken to help women review and analyze their history. Exercises help identify and evaluate any events, emotions, or triggers contributing to vaginismus sexual pain or penetration problems. Checklists and detailed exercises map out a woman's sexual history and pelvic pain events, working toward appropriate treatment strategies. Emotional reviews help detail any negative events, feelings, or memories that may collectively contribute to involuntary pelvic responses. Topics also include blocked or hidden memories and how to move forward when there have been traumatic events in a woman's past.
Vaginismus can be overcome without drugs, surgery, self-hypnosis, nor any other complex invasive technique.
Women often lack complete information about their body's sexual anatomy, function, and the causes of pelvic pain and penetration problems. Confusion regarding problems with inner vaginal areas and vaginal muscles frequently lead to misdiagnosis and frustration. Step 3 educates about these sexual body parts with emphasis on their role in sexual pain and penetration issues. Topics include how to distinguish what kind of pain or discomfort is normal with first-time or ongoing sex and what physical changes take place during arousal to orgasm cycles in the context of sexual pain or penetration problems. Anatomy areas such as the hymen and inner vulva are explained and demystified (for example there are six diagrams of hymen varieties to help distinguish hymen problems).
Note that treatment for those who have never been able to have pain-free intercourse (primary vaginismus) usually requires all ten steps, while those with secondary vaginismus may be able to shorten or bypass some steps (see also Is there a difference between the treatment for primary and secondary vaginismus?).
Female sexual pain and penetration difficulties typically involve some degree of involuntary tightening of the pelvic floor. This step focuses on the role of pelvic floor muscles, especially the pubococcygeus (PC) muscle group, explaining in great detail how once they are triggered they continue to cause involuntary tightness with attempts at intercourse. Effective vaginismus treatment focuses on retraining the pelvic floor to eliminate involuntary muscle reactions that produce tightness or pain. Learning how to identify, selectively control, exercise and retrain the pelvic muscles to reduce pain and alleviate penetration tightness and difficulties is an important step in vaginismus treatment.
For women with penetration difficulties or pain, techniques must be learned to allow initial entry without pain. In this step, women practice pubococcygeus (PC) muscle control techniques as they allow the entry of a small object (cotton swab, tampon, or finger) into their vagina, working completely under their control and pace. Any involuntary muscle contractions that had previously closed the entrance to the vagina and prevented penetration are overridden. Women begin to take full control over their pelvic floor and learn how to flex and relax the pelvic floor at will, eliminating unwanted tightness and allowing entry.
Note that vaginal dilators are typically not effective when used without guidance. They should not be used without proper physical instruction, exercises, transitional steps, etc. Dilators are simply one aspect of the vaginismus treatment process, and if used without pelvic control techniques they will likely be very ineffective. Involuntary muscle reactions are what produces the tightness and pain of vaginismus. The main focus of proper dilator use is in retraining the pelvic floor, not on stretching the vaginal opening.
See the FAQ - Using dilators without a program? for more information.
When used properly, vaginal dilators are effective tools to further help eliminate pelvic tightness due to vaginismus. Dilators provide a substitute means to trigger pelvic muscle reactions. The effective dilator exercises in Step 6 teach women how to override involuntary contractions, relaxing the pelvic floor so it responds correctly to sexual penetration. Graduated vaginal insertion exercises allow women to comfortably transition to the stage where they are ready for intercourse without pain or discomfort.
Helping with the transition to pain-free intercourse, this step explains sensate focus techniques for couples to use to reduce pelvic floor tension and increase intimacy. Couples begin to work together during this step as exercises teach how to successfully practice sensate focus (controlled sensual touch) and prepare for pain-free intercourse using techniques from earlier steps. The exercises are designed to build trust and understanding and assist in the process to adjust to controlled intercourse without pain.
Finalizing preparations for couples to transition to fully pain-free intercourse, this step completes pre-intercourse readiness. Couples review and practice techniques that eliminate pelvic floor tension and prepare to transition to full intercourse. Preparing ahead of time to be able to manage, control and eliminate pain or penetration difficulties, the exercises assist with the final transition to pain-free intercourse.
Step 9 explains the techniques used to eliminate pain and penetration difficulties while transitioning to normal intercourse. Many troubleshooting topics are covered (with supporting diagrams) such as positions to use to maximize control and minimize pain, tips to ensure more comfortable intercourse, etc.
The final step toward overcoming vaginismus includes penis entry with movement and freedom from any pain or tightness. Step 10 exercises are designed to educate, build sexual trust and intimacy, and complete the transition to full sexual intercourse free of pain. Couples can begin to enjoy pleasure with intercourse, initiate family planning, and move forward to live life free from vaginismus.
The complete self-help vaginismus kit includes everything that you need to overcome vaginismus in the privacy of your own home - the most effective resources available. Join the thousands of women who have successfully overcome vaginismus and are enjoying pain-free intercourse.
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