If you want to understand how to become better allies to people with disabilities, then join us at Embracing All Abilities: Including People with Disabilities at Work.
Women are just expected to deal with the pain; dealing with pain during your periods, dealing with pain the first time you have (or try having) sex, dealing with pain because of a lack of foreplay, dealing with pain because marital rape is not a crime.
What is vaginismus? Painful sex in which muscles of the vagina contract reflexively during sex. Is vaginismus treatment possible? Yes!
The society that we live in, and societies that we are surrounded with, have always remained silent when the question of women’s sexuality comes up. It has only been approved of when spoken along the lines of ‘reproduction’ and otherwise, talking about women’s sexuality is still considered a taboo in India; something that one must not talk or discuss about.
Moreover, in India, most women are not aware of their private organs; forget about knowing what is normal or not.
Many women have a problem with intercourse, and some find it difficult or painful to have sex. One possible cause is vaginismus, which is the persistent or recurrent difficulty while having sex along with pain, despite the woman being willing.
A doctor would describe this as the inability of the woman to allow vaginal entry of a penis, a finger, and/or any object, despite the woman’s expressed wish to do so. Given the taboo on this subject, many women suffer in silence.
Despite being one of the most common female sexual dysfunctions (FSD); no one knows the real number of women suffering from vaginismus, as women are reluctant to speak about their sexual experience, feel guilty about their inability to have intercourse, and moreover, they aren’t aware of this condition. However, the rate of vaginismus diagnoses for women who come to sexual dysfunction clinics ranges from 5 to 17%.
Thanks to the show ‘Sex Education’ featuring on Netflix, where even critics claimed to have learned something new while making the show.
Vaginismus affects a character named Lily and her unofficial sex counsellor and fellow classmate, Otis, diagnoses her with vaginismus — a sexual dysfunction condition that causes the pelvic walls to contract and let no object in. They also believe that normalizing our sexual hang-ups and dysfunctions and illustrating that, the more we bring them to light, the less scary (and more common place) they become.
“Women who have vaginismus experience burning sensation, and an involuntary, at times, severe painful spasm or contraction of the muscles around the vagina.”
Sex is more than an act of pleasure, and it supposed to feel good—like, toe-curling, spine-tingling and relaxing. “Women who have vaginismus experience an involuntary and, at times, severe painful spasm or contraction of the muscles around the vagina and in the thighs, burning sensation in response to attempted sexual intercourse or a gynaecological examination, in the absence of any abnormalities in the genital organs.” Isn’t this scary?
Because vaginismus is believed to be both an emotional and physiological pain response, there are a wide variety of causes for this disorder. Somatic symptoms like inflammation often combine with mental factors like anxiety and phobia, genital and sexual trauma, and abuse, to cause pelvic muscular dysfunction. Thus, like any other muscle in the body the vaginal muscles could too react to either a purely physical condition like inflammation or a psychological problem, like anxiety. They (pelvic floor muscles) could go under spasmodic situations and causes extreme pain if penetration is attempted. The pubococcygeus (PC) muscle group, the ones that responsible for urination, intercourse, orgasm, bowel movements and childbirth are affected the most.
Even though its psycho-somatic nature makes each treatment plan different, Vaginismus is highly treatable. But before any treatment acknowledging that the problem is real, and it’s not at all in one’s head is important.
But why is it so difficult? When we’re comfortable discussing our other bodily functions in great detail – such as gas problems or constipation, or digestion problems which are socially accepted. Why we all go quiet, when it comes to sexual health. We don’t even talk about our periods openly, how will we ever get down to discussing problems that occur while having sex?
It could be because women are just expected to deal with the pain. Dealing with pain during your periods, dealing with pain the first time you have (or try having) sex, dealing with pain because of a lack of foreplay, dealing with pain because marital rape is not a crime, dealing with the pain of childbirth. These things are just built into our daily lives.
But we need to understand that the problem of vaginismus is so insidious that it can have major implications on a woman’s sex life, self-esteem, body image and her relationships. There are instances of marriages breaking down because of the stress caused by the lack of physical intimacy. The New Indian Express reported that a significant number of couples even opt for divorce because of vaginismus.
The emotional trauma of vaginismus is far worse that the physical one, that too for both the partners. ‘Apprehension of pain or discomfort; ‘feeling of guilt and shame of not being able to satisfy your partner; ‘faking pleasure; ‘fearing pregnancy; ‘fearing that your partner will leave you etc. This will eventually leads to low self-esteem and even depression.
The solution to this problem lies in accepting and acknowledging the fact that it is a medical condition and hence we have to get it treated. Having vaginismus is just like having any other medical problem. The only difference is not many people talk about vaginismus. Not able to have sex can be emotionally exhausting and mentally disturbing but the good thing is that it is a completely curable condition.
Treatment involves a combination of couple counselling, and pelvic floor physiotherapy which consists of thorough pelvic floor examination along with complete objective history by certified Pelvic floor Physiotherapist following with some relaxation exercises (also called myofascial release) either with direct interaction or using vaginal dilators. Being treated by a specialist in Pelvic floor Physiotherapy increases the chances of success up to 98%.
Patients mostly don’t even need medication to treat this condition. Anxiety-relieving medicine may be prescribed for some, but only if required. The primary treatment methods involve understanding the vagina and exploring it, and slowly desensitising it using vaginal dilators under the guidance of Pelvic PT.
For partners of vaginismus patients, wise advice would be to be more supportive, communicative, and sensitive. One’s rock-solid support to their partner is crucial for the chance of a complete cure. Intimacy is important but there are many ways to express your love. Pleasure isn’t the result of just one move, take out the time to research, and learn about each other’s bodies. Love and support is the key in such times.
If anybody is experiencing pain during sex, during their periods, or if there’s anything that concerns you about your sexual health, PLEASE DON’T SUFFER IN SILENCE! Women have been doing that for too long, and vaginismus is something for which there is a proven treatment so there shouldn’t be any shame in seeking professional help for it.
Image Credits: Pixabay
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!
What I loved was how there is so much in the movie of the SRK we have known, and also a totally new star. The gestures, the smile, the wit and the charisma are all too familiar, but you also witness a rawness, an edginess.
When a movie that got the entire nation in a twist – for the right and wrong reasons – hits the theatres, there is bound to be noise. From ‘I am going to watch it – first day first show’ to ‘Boycott the movie and make it a flop’, social media has been a furore of posts.
Let me get one thing straight here – I did not watch Pathaan to make a statement or to simply rebel as people would put it. I went to watch it for the sheer pleasure of witnessing my favourite superstar in all his glory being what he is best at being – his magnificent self. Because when it comes to screen presence, he burns it, melts it and then resurrects it as well like no other. Because when it comes to style and passion, he owns it like a boss. Because SRK is, in a way, my last connecting point to the girl that I once was. Though I have evolved into so many more things over the years, I don’t think I am ready to let go of that girl fully yet.
There is no elephant in the room really here because it’s a fact that Bollywood has a lot of cleaning up to do. Calling out on all the problematic aspects of the industry is important and in doing that, maintaining objectivity is also equally imperative. I went for Pathaan for entertainment and got more than I had hoped for. It is a clever, slick, witty, brilliantly packaged action movie that delivers what it promises to. Logic definitely goes flying out of the window at times and some scenes will make you go ‘kuch bhi’ , but the screenplay clearly reminds you that you knew all along what you were in for. The action sequences are lavish and someone like me who is not exactly a fan of this genre was also mind blown.
Recent footage of her coming out of an airport had comments preaching karma and its cruel ways, that Samantha "deserved her illness" because she filed for divorce.
Samantha Ruth Prabhu fell from being the public’s sweetheart to a villain overnight because she filed for divorce. The actress was struck with myositis post divorce, much to the joy of certain groups (read sexist) in our society.
A troll responded to Samantha’s tweet, “Women Rising!!” by adding to it “just to fall”. She replied, “Getting back up makes it all the more sweeter, my friend.”
Here’s another insensitive tweet by BuzZ Basket showing fake concern for her autoimmune disease. “Feeling sad for Samantha, she lost all her charm and glow. When everyone thought she came out of divorce strongly and her professional life was seeing heights, myositis hit her badly, making her weak again.” Samantha responded, “I pray you never have to go through months of treatment and medication like I did. And here’s some love from me to add to your glow.”
Please enter your email address