By Ibukun Busari
As a member of Her Story’s Book Club, I read a book that was shared on the platform last month, and for the first time in my life I heard of the word ‘Vaginismus’. Sex, in today’s world, is literally everywhere; from movies to books to music videos and lyrics to magazines, and so on. Most times it is described as pleasurable which it actually is for some women, but it is also important to understand and realise that it is also not a pleasurable experience for some women.
Vaginismus, according to Cleveland Clinic, is an involuntary tensing or contracting of muscles around the vagina. According to Healthline, vaginismus does not interfere with sexual arousal, however, it causes pain during sexual intercourse, making penetration difficult. Furthermore, Healthline identifies the following as causes of vaginismus;
- Past sexual abuse or trauma
- Past painful intercourse
- Emotional distress or imbalance
- In some cases, no direct cause can be found.
According to Healthy Women, only 1-6% of women have been diagnosed with vaginismus but doctors believe it is a relatively common condition because the condition is underdiagnosed due to the fact that many women are unwilling to discuss their symptoms with healthcare providers. I believe this is so because many women are ashamed to speak up about this in spite of their struggles. We see cases of women who would rather bear the pain than speak up to get the needed medical or psychological assistance.
Recently in the news, American singer Meghan Trainor openheartedly discussed her sex life with her husband on a podcast. She said sex is ‘so painful’ with her husband that she ‘can’t walk’ afterwards. This statement led to several negative reactions with many describing it as ‘tacky’ ‘too much information’ ‘filthy’ amongst many other negative reactions. Reactions like these are the reason many women shy from speaking out. We are in no position to determine what’s tacky, filthy or too much information as regards women’s health. It is our duty as responsible individuals to encourage and even make findings to learn about things we do know, or know little about rather than just speaking from a place of ignorance and wickedness.
Vaginismus is nothing to be ashamed of. If you experience painful sexual intercourse, you need to understand that your condition can be effectively managed and treated. According to Cleveland Clinic, the following are recommended treatments for vaginismus;
- Topical Therapy
- Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy
- Vaginal Dilator Therapy
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
- Sex Therapy.
Please do not be embarrassed or ashamed to speak out, it is possible for you to enjoy sex if you speak out and reach out to medical practitioners. You don’t have to suffer and endure pain because VAGINISMUS can be treated and managed.