Why Do Married Couples Need to Talk About Vaginismus?

Waiting until you’re married is a fairly rare concept these days but many couples still choose to save it until the wedding night. Imagine that you’ve waited your whole life to experience your sexual wellbeing but, now you’re here, it doesn’t happen. According to Australian sex therapist Matty Silver, the reason is a condition called vaginismus, a sexual health problem that you rarely talk about.


‘As a sex therapist I see many women who come from a cultural or religious background where sex before marriage is not allowed or frowned upon,’ Silver comments. ‘They sometimes end up with this condition, which can result in unconsummated marriages. Women who suffer from vaginismus find that attempts at sexual intercourse are unsuccessful or very painful. The condition is caused by the involuntary contraction of the muscles around the entrance to the vagina. The spasm constricts the vaginal opening, making it virtually impossible to have intercourse. The man cannot penetrate, it feels like he has hit a brick wall. As this is often experienced on, or after, the wedding night you can imagine how distressing this is for a couple who can’t understand what is happening. They have waited so long and now having intercourse is impossible.’


Silver explains that the condition can impact other elements of your wellness. ‘Women with vaginismus may feel sexually inadequate and can experience feelings of intense shame and failure,’ he says. ‘The male partner may experience loss of desire and problems with erection. The combination of erectile difficulties and vaginismus is not uncommon. He fears hurting his partner and loses his erection whenever he tries to penetrate. Or he may ejaculate before he can penetrate. It is such a taboo that couples are often too embarrassed to discuss the issue with family or friends and so suffer in silence. They avoid questions from the family about why they don’t have children yet and feel extremely sad when their friends tell them what a great sex life they have.’


So what can be done to tackle the health concern? ‘Vaginismus is easily treated by counselling, education, anxiety reduction and retraining of the pelvic floor muscles,’ Silver notes. ‘Psychosexual education is important as it is essential the woman gains knowledge of her sexual anatomy. Through counselling she can free herself of the moral beliefs that can contribute to her condition. Post-counselling I refer my clients to a pelvic floor physiotherapist who specialises in this area. The treatment of vaginismus involves unlearning the fear-contraction reflex and being taught to keep the pelvic floor muscles relaxed during intercourse. Successful treatment does not require drugs, surgery, Botox injections, hypnosis or any complex invasive techniques, and a full recovery is possible.’

Comments are closed.