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Anita M Elias does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. But for many people, having sexual intercourse is extremely painful or impossible.
One of the leading causes of painful sex is vaginismus. Vaginismus is an extremely common condition , that can have a huge impact on women, their partners and relationships. But sexual difficulties in women are missing from the story. : Sex and women's diseases: it's common and important to include men's perspectives. Almost half of these women had experienced this for more than five years, and it had occurred in around one in five of these women for ten or more years.
Vaginismus occurs when someone has persistent or recurrent difficulties in allowing vaginal entry of a penis, finger or any object, despite her wish to do so. Some women experience fear, difficulties or pain from the first time they try to insert something into their vagina and instead of getting better, it can get worse over time. Others can be fine for years and develop pain at some later date. Vaginismus can be mild, moderate or severe. The pain is often described as burning, cramping, or a tight feeling.
And for some, nothing can go into the vagina. Sufferers describe it as like hitting a brick wall. Those with undiagnosed vaginismus can feel embarrassed or abnormal which can deter them from seeking help.
And undiagnosed vaginismus can ificantly impact self-esteem, and lead to anxiety or depression. : 'Is it normal to get sore down there after sex? Those with vaginismus may avoid being sexual , as it can be a very painful experience. This can ificantly impact relationships, leading to distance and conflict.
It can also inhibit single people from forming relationships. Vaginismus is no exception. Underlying causes are extremely variable and often influenced by multiple factors. : Health Check: what is normal vaginal discharge and what's not? Sometimes there is no obvious cause, but common factors in the development of primary vaginismus include:.
Generalised anxiety or other anxiety disorders can also cause vaginismus. Secondary vaginismus can occur due to any of the above or after anything that le to painful sex, such as:. A normal reaction to any anxiety and fear is a tightening of muscles, and vaginismus occurs when this happens in the pelvic floor muscles. A strong pelvic floor is important, but we also need to learn how to relax it, when we want to.
: 1 in 10 women are affected by endometriosis. So why does it take so long to diagnose? Vaginismus can usually be diagnosed by taking a careful history and looking at which factors may be causing it. Those who suspect they may have vaginismus should initially seek help from GPs, gynaecologists, pelvic floor physiotherapists, sexologists or psychotherapists who have experience with this condition.
Medical professionals who are experienced in treating the condition will do an examination in a gentle, empowering way, only when the woman is ready to, so she is not distressed or traumatised in any way. : Isolation could improve how we think about and navigate sex and relationships. Women should be reassured tightness in the pelvic floor is an involuntary, protective response they can learn to overcome, with help. A multidisciplinary approach of management has been shown to be most effective, this includes:. Woman should also be empowered to feel free to choose if, when and how to be sexual.
They need to be supported to recognise and express their own needs and wishes. Models for Cause and Effect: causal inference for social scientists — Southampton, Southampton. Edition: Available editions United Kingdom. Anita M Elias , Monash University.Women want sex Brick
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Women want sex Brick