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.
Limbic System Retraining
Mind + Body Training
Vaginismus is caused by a limbic system response toward penetration that activates vaginal muscle tightness.
The limbic system, also known as the feeling and reacting part of the brain, controls functions needed for self-preservation. Among the system's many responsibilities, it is involved with interpreting events and body protections for emotions and memory to trigger necessary body reactions. The mind and body can hold a negative view of different forms of penetration that trigger a physical over-reaction.
The good news is that this associative reaction can be changed through mind and body training, for complete resolution of vaginismus.
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.
Penetration difficulties from vaginismus are fully treatable and can be completely overcome with no remaining pain or discomfort.
Women experiencing ongoing sexual tightness, discomfort and pain, penetration problems, or unconsummated relationships can expect remarkable resolution of their vaginismus, allowing resumption of full, pain-free intercourse.
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.
Vaginismus treatment exercises follow a manageable, step-by-step process.
Couples are often amazed by the sudden life-changing effects of treatment, following a step-by-step approach.
A Treatment Program is Important
Some of the steps to treat vaginismus are counter-intuitive and not immediately obvious. As failure at any point inhibits recovery 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.
Our 10 Steps for Vaginismus Treatment
Step 1 - Understanding vaginismus
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.
Step 2 - Sexual history review & treatment strategies
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.
Step 3 - Sexual pain anatomy
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).
Step 4 - Vaginal tightness & the role of pelvic floor muscles
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.
Step 5 - Insertion techniques
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.
Step 6 - Graduated vaginal insertions
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.
Step 7 - Sensate focus & techniques for couples to reduce pelvic floor tension
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.
Step 8 - Pre-intercourse readiness exercises
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 - Making the transition to 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.
Step 10 - Full pain-free intercourse & pleasure restoration
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.
Outline of Process
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.