Misinformation about Vaginismus

Myths about Vaginismus

Many women who are suffering from vaginismus are self-diagnosed as this condition is not well known to physicians. They often have a lot of misinformation regarding vaginismus, which often times delays them from having treatment.

VaginismusMD ForumOn our VaginismusMD Forum, Heather, our moderator, posted the following to our readers:

Blurb ptpHi ladies. In the process of self-diagnosing myself with vaginismus, researching and finding this treatment program, and later becoming cured from vaginismus, I’ve heard of so many different MYTHS ABOUT VAGINISMUS. What specific myths have you heard about vaginismus and why they are inaccurate.

Myth 1: Vaginismus is an uncommon condition

Vaginismus is a much more common problem than people realize. The incidence rate of vaginismus is as high as seven percent (the equivalent of men with erectile dysfunction), and is the leading cause of unconsummated marriages.

Myth 2: Childbirth cures vaginismus

During the vaginal delivery, nothing is done to effectively reduce the spasm related to vaginismus, so once the child is born, these women still have vaginismus. It is important to remember that childbirth does not address nor cure the fear and apprehension associated with vaginal penetration nor does childbirth reduce the spasm related to vaginismus.

Myth 3: “Have a drink and just relax!”

I would be willing to bet that just about every woman with vaginismus has heard this one. Of course we all know it doesn’t work. When I review the intake forms, some of my patients try to get drunk every time they try to have intercourse AND IT DOESN’T WORK!! The other thing is that most of my patients neither drink nor smoke!

Myth 4: Vaginismus is not a physical condition.

Even though vaginismus is more of a psychological condition, it definitely still is a physical condition too. The pain when intercourse is attempted is REAL PAIN, not just in your head!

Myth 5: You must have vulvodynia

For years sexual pain disorders were diagnosed as vulvodynia or vestibulodynia (older term-vestibulitis i.e. pain in the vestibule). Many well known professionals in this field felt that vaginismus by itself did not exist. Not true.

Myth 6: Vaginismus is caused by a Thick Hymen

The main problem with vaginismus is spasm of the vaginal entry muscle. Therefore the treatment needs to address this spasm which is Botox, dilators and post procedure counseling, or dilators alone with counseling in less severe cases. Though the hymen may be a problem, and sometimes I find the need to release the hymen (fairly rare), hymenectomy in of itself will not cure vaginismus. Feeling your muscles going into spasm when kissing confirms your diagnosis of vaginal spasm. This is much like suddenly getting a “Charlie horse” when other muscles in the body go into spasm. “Hitting a wall” is also a very common complaint. All this speaks to muscle spasm and therefore the diagnosis of vaginismus. The inability to have a GYN exam further confirms the diagnosis. A doctor who is able to insert only one finger (or usually no finger when the muscle looks and feels like a tightly closed fist) could be an indication of a tight hymen, but when combined with the proper history, the diagnosis should be muscular spasm rather than the need for a hymenectomy. 

Myth 7: A woman with Vaginismus is not interested in sex

Many women who have the condition of vaginismus strongly desire to have sex with their partners but refrain from doing so because of the excruciating pain/fear response that occurs due to vaginismus.

Myth 8: Women with vaginismus were raped or sexually abused and, in response, developed resistance and pain.

Myth 9: Another is that negative background, including attitudes of shame or fear of sex, caused the problem.

 According to Rhea Orion, PhD, who has collaborated with Dr. Pacik to produce three YouTube videos on vaginismus, “These sound like reasonable causations based on symptoms, but recent research suggests no more prevalence in backgrounds of abuse or negativity than in women with no vaginismus. Nor does sexual pain appear to be a consistent response in women who do have abusive or negative backgrounds. Many vaginismus sufferers report no exceptionally negative backgrounds with regard to sexuality. Many times, their female siblings, raised in the same family, do not have vaginismus. The condition of vaginismus has also been confirmed cross-culturally, suggesting that background is not a causative factor.”

Myth 10: Vaginismus will go away on its own

Unfortunately, vaginismus does not get better on its own and does require treatment. I used to believe that if we just tried harder, sex will happen and this problem will go away on its own. The more we tried and the more it just caused excruciating pain, this only made the situation worse and reinforced the control that vaginismus had on our lives. You do not have to accept your situation and can be cured from this condition. It is highly treatable and there is a high 90% success rate in those who have received the Botox Treatment Program for Vaginismus.

For a complete listing of this thread on our VaginismusMD Forum, please click here.

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About Dr. Pacik

Peter Pacik, MD, FACS is a recognized pioneer in treating patients with Botox for vaginismus and the author of When Sex Seems Impossible: Stories of Vaginismus and How You Can Achieve Intimacy. He has been in practice for over thirty years and belongs to a small group of prestigious surgeons who are double board certified by both the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Plastic Surgery. In 2010, Dr. Pacik received FDA approval to continue his study to treat vaginismus using intravaginal injections of Botox together with progressive dilation under anesthesia.
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