Vaginismus: Diagnosis and What to Expect
Part 3 of a series
Disclaimer: not a medical professional. Sharing knowledge and experience form 10 years of treatment.
Potentially one of the most stressful parts of having vaginismus is the initial diagnosis of it. Not only is the process of diagnosis hard to get through, but the idea of it afterword can be a nightmare.
To start, many doctors don’t know about vaginismus and simply wave it off, ignoring the patients concerns, no matter how life altering they present to be. This leaves the patient searching for a doctor who has a better appreciation and education towards the female reproductive system. Gynaecologists and urogynecologists are the best bet for diagnosis if your general practitioner/family doctor doesn’t know what’s wrong. In fact, as much as vaginismus is easily self-diagnosed (mostly due to the fact that it can be so hard to get a diagnosis), it is important to see these types of doctors to ensure that your pain isn’t coming from another issue - including ones that cause or make vaginismus worse.
For those of you that don’t know, a gynaecologist is a doctor who specialises in femal reproductive health. An OB-GYN (obstetrician-gynaecologist) also works with pregnant women and delivers babies. A urogynecologist is a doctor specialized in diagnosing and treating female pelvic floor disorders. As far as accessibility goes, it’s most easy to see a gynaecologist. Urogynecologists are fewer in number, but if you can get a referral to one they are better trained to deal with vaginismus and other pelvic floor issues that you may have. Vaginismus can come as a result of other health issues, so it is always a good idea to check in with your doctor - especially if your sexual pain or discomfort has a sudden onset.
When a doctor does suspect vaginismus, they will do some very basic tests. They do a visual to make sure everything appears to be normal (no lumps or bumps or questionable oddities, lesions etc.) and then will proceed to touch the area. It is important for the physician to feel the muscles, especially at the entrance where there is a cluster that is often much tighter and much more sensitive than the rest. From the feeling inside, as well as the patient’s reaction, they are often able to determine a reasonable treatment plan. This is not always true. Many doctors will diagnose but not offer advice for treatment.
Treatment comes in many forms. At home treatment, psychological treatment, as well as physiological treatment. Physiotherapists and counselors are more often than not a great help to patients. That’s not to say that treatment cannot be successful and relatively fast without them. In fact, there are endless possibilities when it comes to finding a treatment that works for you. What matters the most when deciding which path to take, is that it is the path that will lead to the least amount of stress. Remember, discomfort is NOT a bad thing, but we need to make sure to not add trauma to the pile and make treatment more difficult. It won’t be easy, but it should not be your greatest stress either.
If you suffer with vaginismus, or a loved one does, remember that this condition is absolutely treatable. Another important thing to remember is that if you do not want to seek treatment, and the condition will not otherwise affect you, treatment is not necessary. You do not have to be treated. You do not have to wear tampons. You do not have to have penetrative sex. It is perfectly fine to not want those things. But if you do want them, and you are considering different treatment plans, those things are much closer than you think.
We will be discussing different types of treatments in a later post, as well as many other important things about the condition.