Vaginismus Is Not All In Your Head

When to Finally Consider Surgery (and Why I Am)

Breathe. Vaginismus Is Not All In Your Head

Whenever a client walks into the clinic with a history of vaginismus, one of the very first things they need to hear is “it is not all in your head”. Many women come in skittish after previous experiences of health care professionals or friends telling them to “just relax”, “drink some wine before”, or even alluding to the idea of repressed memories of sexual assault. 

For those of you unfamiliar with vaginismus, it is a condition in which the muscles of the pelvic floor inside of the vaginal canal spasm in response to insertion. This can occur during penetrative sexual activity, insertion of menstrual products, and speculum examinations. In fact, 75% of women will experience a time in their life in which sexual activity is painful – you are not alone! A pelvic floor physical therapist specializes in reducing these muscle spasms and decreasing the pelvic pain. 

To ensure a comprehensive treatment plan is created, it is best to schedule an appointment with a certified pelvic floor therapist. However, there are 3 exercises that can easily be done at home in the meantime. 

1. Hamstring Stretch

Below are options for different hamstring stretches. Make sure to do each leg and hold for 30 seconds.

woman standing with one leg stretched forward on a chair.
woman laying on the floor with her leg in the air and using a resistance band to stretch her hamstring.
woman sitting on a chair with one of her legs stretched outward.

2. Glute Stretch

Below are options for different glute stretches. Make sure to do each leg and hold for 30 seconds.

woman sitting on a chair with one leg bent over the opposite leg to stretch her glute muscle.
woman laying on a table with one leg crossed over the other stretching her glute muscle.

3. Tummy Fascial Pulls

While laying on your back, use both hands to grab your tummy as low as you can. The easiest approach is forming your fingers into claws and pushing them down towards your spine before pulling up towards your head. Sometimes you can feel this stretch all the way down around the clitoris or vaginal canal. Hold for 15 seconds at a time. 

In addition to the exercises, listening to the podcast “Tight Lipped” can make it feel like you are not alone in this journey. Vaginismus can sometimes feel isolating and having a community to lean on is important. The episodes are around 35 minutes long and are worth every second.

These 3 exercises can help relieve pain with insertion during sexual activity and menstrual product placement as well as decrease pain with speculum examinations. This is just the start in the treatment of vaginismus as there are many additional approaches a pelvic floor physical therapist can take to relieve your pain. Pelvic pain requires a holistic and multi-faceted treatment approach and Breathe. wants you to know – it is not all in your head.

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