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An Introduction to Vaginismus by Jane Murphy

Let's talk about reason you are reading this blog - to learn about vaginismus.

I know vagi-what? Va-gin-is-mus. Three years ago I never even heard of this word. And now I'd dedicated my time and resources to bring awareness to this condition. Vaginismus is an involuntary tightness of the vagina. Any attempts at intimacy can be very painful and unsuccessful.

Vaginismus is a condition that affects every aspect of a woman's life from dating to her self-esteem. It challenges relationships, something I know first hand. I struggled for three years with painful sex. I'd describe myself as a put-together, independent, strong person. At the beginning, this condition shattered my world. Throughout the years it also caused me to fall in and out of depressions. My story however does have a happy ending. In fact every vaginismus story can have a happy ending as vaginismus is 100% treatable.

The most important thing I can tell a woman suffering from vaginismus is that it is vital to treat both the emotional and physical conditions. The course of treatment is decided based on the cause or causes of the vaginismus. The real work comes from addressing the psychological causes and effects of vaginismus. This is done through psychotherapy, often with a qualified sex therapist.

To treat the physical symptoms of vaginismus, dilators are typically used. A set of dilators can range in size with the smallest one being about the size of a pinky and the largest one being about the size of an average penis. They can be made of plastic, glass or silicone. The woman starts with the smallest one and over the course of several weeks, works her way up to the largest one.

Dilators trigger pelvic floor muscle reactions and women can learn how to control these reactions and redirect them so they respond correctly to penetration. At each stage, if the vagina starts to clench or anxiety increases, the woman should stop, try to relax and start again. Sometimes it takes several attempts or several sessions of trying, even with the smallest dilator, before it works but she should not be discouraged. With determination and the desire to overcome the problem, she can learn to use the dilators.

Many women suffer secretly with painful sex, just like I did. They are too ashamed to tell their partner or ask for help. Vaginismus must be treated physically and emotionally, a lesson that took me years to understand. Today I'm working to become what I searched for years ago—a source of comfort for women suffering with vaginismus. I'm developing a website that will share my entire experience with vaginismus,, to help other women looking for someone who has been through what they are experiencing.

It is my goal to help with someone else's healing story and play a small part in the wonderful life that can come out of transcending the emotional and physical barriers of vaginismus.

Thank you to Jane Murphy for this blog. Jane Murphy is the founder of and aims to educate women about vaginismus and what can be done to help.