Do you recommend working with treatment professionals such as physicians, therapists, psychologists, counselors, or others?
Treatment professionals may be helpful in working through challenging areas of vaginismus treatment.
While the vaginismus self-help program was designed to be used with or without ongoing professional assistance, areas of difficulty may certainly be easier to get through when working with an experienced specialist. Since every person’s specific needs and medical histories vary, specialists can often be helpful in the process of overcoming vaginismus. The following professionals provide assistance in various areas of treatment.
Physicians & Gynecologists
Physicians may be consulted at any stage throughout vaginismus treatment to ensure individualized care and advice. Every person’s specific needs and medical histories vary, and medical consultation is essential. If possible, we encourage woman seeking medical assistance to locate a gynecologist, a physician with specialized training in diagnosing and treating female pelvic health issues. While not all gynecologists have specific experience with vaginismus, most will be tremendously knowledgeable about female pelvic health issues and can assist in ruling out any other causes of female sexual pain. The vaginismus kits may be used by physicians to assist them in administering care as appropriate.
Specialized Physical Therapists
Pelvic floor therapy is a growing area within the field of physical therapy. Physical therapy specialists in pelvic floor therapy may be especially helpful with difficulties in the physical aspects of pelvic muscle rehabilitation, control and relaxation. Many pelvic floor specialists administer the self-help program, allowing their patients to have a comprehensive treatment understanding while working together with them to help develop individualized physical treatment strategies. The vaginismus treatment kit has been reviewed in the American Physical Therapy Association’s Journal Of Women’s Health Physical Therapy and was recommended for use by therapists with all vaginismus patients.¹
Psychologists, Psychiatrists & Counselors
We encourage all women to get the help they need whenever warranted. If a woman is not equipped to deal with unresolved issues from her past, or she feels that emotional or relational issues are keeping her from moving forward in her life, professional counseling may be helpful.
In some cases, especially where the emotional health inventory (covered in step 2 of the 10 step program) uncovers some deeply rooted issues, a woman may wish to involve the help of a counselor or other specialist. Some psychologists and counselors will be able to help with emotional aspects of vaginismus but will be unaware of the physical exercises or aspects of treatment. Others may be experienced in all aspects of vaginismus treatment and can administer a complete program. This is yet another viable option for some women, especially those who anticipate greater emotional challenges or those who have complex histories of abuse, anxieties, or other emotional issues.
Sexual Therapists & Other Professionals
Sexual therapists, and other professionals who specialize in pelvic floor pain, sexual dysfunction issues, or other related disciplines may also offer helpful services. As with any health care assistance, be careful to evaluate the effectiveness and experience of the professional and don’t be afraid to seek a second opinion to try and help assess the appropriateness of advice received.
The Elusive, Emotional “Roots” of Sexual Problems
Some women spend years working with psychiatrists, hypnotists, or other para-professionals trying to find elusive, emotional “roots” of their sexual problems, only to grow more frustrated with the passage of time. It is important to recognize that while it may be helpful to identify any possible emotional triggers of vaginismus, treatment can still proceed without a complete understanding of the root causes of the problem.
Conversely, discovering all potential emotional triggers does not cure vaginismus. Treatment steps are still necessary to learn pelvic floor control and eliminate tightness, regardless whether the original cause of the problem is discovered or understood.
There is not always an emotional explanation for the cause of vaginismus that can be identified. Vaginismus sufferers come from all walks of life and have varied backgrounds. Some women with vaginismus have nearly perfect childhoods and have never experienced any significant emotional issues that need to be resolved. For these reasons, we encourage women to consider emotional components, but to also continue moving forward with treatment to avoid getting stuck trying to remember or discover causes that may never be fully understood.
- Shelly, B., Edwards, D. (Editor) (Winter 2005). Product News & Reviews – Complete Vaginismus Treatment Kit. APTA J of Women’s Health Physical Therapy, 29(3), 74.
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