Let's open up
They say ‘the first time hurts’, but what’s it called when it hurts every time? Every time you try to use a tampon or go for a smear test. Or every time you meet someone new and have to tell them ‘I can’t have sex’. It’s called Vaginismus, and it’s time we talked about it.
Vaginismus. It feels as bad as it sounds.
Medically speaking, Vaginismus is the involuntary contraction (upon a stimulus) of muscles in the vaginal canal. Human speaking, it means sometimes when we try to put something into our vaginas an alarm goes off in our brain and we tense up.
Vaginismus can make everything from tampon use to penetrative sex painful or even impossible. So those suffering often feel ashamed and stay silent. But sharing your story could help you to see that Vaginismus is just like any other health condition. What’s more, it’s one that doctors believe as many as 1 in 2 people with vaginas will experience.
Talking about Vaginismus could help you to relax and come to terms with having the condition. Plus, you may find out about help you didn’t even know was out there. So it’s time to open up.
NOT TONIGHT, DARLING. I HAVE A CONDITION WHERE MY VAGINA INVOLUNTARILY CLOSES UP.
DOCTORS HAVE SEEN HUNDREDS OF BROKEN BONES AND MANY 'BROKEN' VAGINAS.
WHO ARE YOU IF YOUR VAGINA 'DOESN'T WORK'? STILL YOU.
WHAT AM I INTO? IT'S MORE LIKE WHAT CAN'T GET INTO ME...
The hole isn’t the goal. Pleasure is.
Remember, penetrative sex isn’t the be-all-end-all definition of sex. Dr Sarah Welsh, gynaecology doctor and co-founder of HANX, says “having Vaginismus doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re unable to enjoy other types of sexual contact, and have enjoyable, fulfilling and exciting sexual experiences. Listen to your body and/or communicate with your partner to know what works for you and your body. It’s important to remember that this can change over time, too.”
HANX have made it their mission to redefine how we look at our relationship with sex. So whether you’re using dilators or just starting to explore what pleasure means to you, it could be time to embrace lubricant. It offers relief from soreness and irritation, and helps you feel more comfortable. Under Dr Welsh’s guidance, HANX have designed a lubricant that’s as gentle as possible – with no harsh spermicides, unnecessary chemicals or flavours. HANX lube is pH balanced to be as close to the real thing as possible. Plus, as it’s water-based, it’s safe to use with silicon toys and dilators - and anywhere on the body.
Sex shouldn’t hurt. Unless you’re into that.
Vaginismus is a common medical condition - so help is out there. If your GP suspects you have Vaginismus, they might refer you to a gynaecologist. Treatment may involve physiotherapy, psychiatry or both, which the specialist will guide you through.
Physiotherapy often involves dilators. The job of these isn’t to stretch the vagina, but to help retrain your vaginal muscles. Over time, you’ll gradually increase the size of dilator until your brain and vagina become more in sync.
Anecdotally, practising yoga and meditation can assist recovery. This is because the inward-focus on the breath replicates the breathing techniques physios recommend when using dilators.
People develop Vaginismus for many reasons, and opening up to your GP can help you to work out or address some of these. So when you’re ready, contact your GP or tap the link below for more advice.