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If you haven't already shopped at with the promo code 'DOE' for 50% off an eligible item, what are you doing?  At least peruse the site, consider it a Sexplanations field trip.  I'm Dr. Lindsey Doe, clinical sexologist and host of this sex curious show, Sexplanations.  Adam & Eve is today's generous sponsor.  They're awesome and there's a link to why I enjoy working with them in the description.


 When I asked you what questions you have about it, you said "What is it?", "What does that word mean?", "I want to know everything, everything, everything about it."  Great.  Let's learn.  Vaginismus is a medical condition in which the muscles in the vagina involuntary contract, making penetration difficult and/or painful.  It's like my mouth.  At a resting state, my lips keep it protected, but if I want to put something inside, my mouth would typically respond by relaxing and opening, no problem, right?  Usually.  There are some things that don't go in, but that's not because my mouth won't open.  It's just because it won't open that wide, especially not if my jaws hurt or I have chapped lips.  Following the analogy, right?  If my mouth is a vagina with vaginismus, I wouldn't be able to put anything inside or at least not some things.  My vagina would stay closed and clenched.  It would hurt if I tried to penetrate it.

Is there a known cause?  Is it psychological or physical? has a fairly comprehensive list I find useful.  Medical conditions like infections, cancer, cysts, childbirth, and related complications, age-related changes, discomfort from sexual changes like less lubrication or larger objects of insertion, trauma to the area, abuse, medications, fear.  Fear it will hurt, fear it will hurt again, and then there's anxiety and stress from this, issues in the relationship like distrust or insecurity, similarly traumatic events, and childhood.  People who grow up in communities where sex is shameful and they don't receive important sex education can struggle with vaginismus.  There's so many contributing factors.  Some are physical.  Others are psychological and sometimes it's a combination.  Other times, we don't even know what causes it.  It's undetermined.

The three dimensional model of clinical sexology, in this video, also linked below, has a simple guide for determining the origin of vaginismus.  It may help.  Ultimately, though, I want you to visit a gynecologist and get a diagnosis.  Like this: Hi.  I'm calling to set up an appointment to see if I have vaginismus.  When you meet with the medical provider, they will probably start with a conversation to learn about your unique body, medical history, and what you already have assessed from your own experiences, like penetration doesn't hurt when I'm fingering myself, but it's excruciating when my partner does or I've never been able to put anything inside.  I've tried tampons, fingers, lube, breathing, it's like a wall. 

To determine if the vagina's muscular spasms are not an infection, scarring, or adhesions in the area to inhibit the penetration, the medical provider will probably ask to do a pelvic exam.  For some of you, this thought is stressful, and if that's the case but you still value checking things out anyway, here are some tips.  One: find a medical provider you trust.  Trust to stop, trust to be honest with you, trust to actually help, and please don't discount male gynecologists.  My best exams, and I've had dozens of them, have been from men.  

Second tip, before getting undressed, determine with the provider ways to make things more comfortable for you.  Can I masturbate before my exam?  Can I put my feet on the table rather than in the stirrups?  Is it okay to hold my labia open? Can I use a safe word so that you know when it's too much?  Do you have a pediatric speculum that will work instead?  Can you tell me step by step what you're doing and how it might feel?  Can my friend come in and hold my hand?  Time to speak up for your vagina.  Of course, you don't have to be penetrated or seek care.  

Vaginismus is only a problem if it causes you distress.  I'm just saying, if it does cause you distress, your vagina needs you to use your words.  It it curable?  Can someone with vaginismus expect to have a normal sex life at some point?  Depending on the cause, vaginismus can be treated.  If it's psychological, therapy or even talking our your experience with a confidant can help.  If it's physical, you may be prescribed dilators that work up to more and more penetration with practice.  There are these fancy medical sets with high quality phalluses designed for vaginismus, but gloved fingers can work too, pinky and then up to your thumb, or Adam & Eve has anal dilators you can use with condoms.  

If you're not sure what instigates vaginismus, another option is a coach, in this case, a pelvic floor specialist or physical therapist who does pelvic floor work.  They can talk you through your body's experience and recommend exercises suited for what is specifically going on for you.  The solution varies.  Here are some quick tricks.  Straddle the paper, if you can, and let your vagina express itself on the page.  What does it have to say about your diet, your sex life, your partner, your fears?  What does it think about vaginismus?  Another one is to journal across entire pages so that your eyes move from a larger distance across the page as you process.  Make a list of what you fear and what you need to overcome each fear.  Do more research on vaginismus and vaginas. 

You may find that your pain is actually a different form of GPPPD, Genito-pelvc pain penetration disorder, with a different cause or different treatment, so stay curious, right?

All of these toys are intended for external use, but these, if you want to work up to them, have a slippery slender end for the internal vagina.  Here as well, you can hold it with your vagina and have a phallus, or this one allows you to put it in and then it'll (sounds) go back and forth and actually thrust on you with a clitoral stimulation.  Again, use them on the inside or the outside, it's totally up to you, it's your vagina.  You can get them at Adam & Eve.  One eligible item plus free shipping on your order to the US and Canada for 50% off when you use the code 'DOE' at checkout.