Trouble with tampons and a tight vagina? Vaginismus could be the cause
The view that tampons are easy to use and glide right in without a fuss is pretty antiquated (and downright wrong). In fact, it’s incredibly common for tampons to cause pain, irritation and anxiety for people trying to use them.
Feeling as if you have a tight vagina or vaginal contractions is just one reason you might be experiencing these sensations. All symptoms are worth exploring, and a common condition known as vaginismus could be the cause.
Today we get the lowdown on vaginismus, including what causes the condition and how to live with it. Plus, we explore how a humble pair of Modibodi undies can be the comfy alternative to the pain-relieving period care you’ve been looking for.
So what is vaginismus?
Vaginismus is a condition that causes recurrent, involuntary spasms and tightening of the vagina, specifically in the musculature of the outer third. This condition, while common, can be painful, uncomfortable and distressing to live with.
Interestingly, it’s not always penetration or the insertion of a tampon that can cause spasms. For some, it’s as simple as touching – or preparing to touch – near the vaginal area that can cause the vagina to constrict.
So how common is vaginismus, and what causes it?
Studies have found that around 20% of people with vaginas experience painful intercourse, potentially indicating vaginismus. Notably, it affects everyone differently in severity, and so does the reason for the spasms.
There’s no singular cause of vaginismus, but it’s linked to previous sexual trauma, painful intercourse, childbirth injuries, anxiety and emotional factors. Although the condition can cause spasms and a feeling of a tight vagina, vaginismus shouldn’t interfere with sexual arousal. But its symptoms can have emotional, physical and mental impacts.
Symptoms and early signs of vaginismus
Spotting the early signs of vaginismus and knowing what to look for can help you manage it. These are some of the symptoms you might notice that are worth exploring further:
- Involuntary tightness
- Pain during penetration
- Fear of penetration
Vaginal spasming, cramping and contracting involuntarily is the primary symptom of vaginismus. The tight-vagina sensation can be painful and uncomfortable depending on its severity.
Pain during penetration
Anything inserted into the vagina, including tampons, can cause a stinging or burning sensation. The constrictions also make it almost impossible for anything to penetrate. Some even describe it as a brick wall.
Fear of penetration
A fear surrounding penetration – whether from a partner, tampon, sex toy or otherwise – can occur due to previous pain or trauma experienced.
Vaginismus bleeding can occur as the vaginal walls get damaged from spasms. Reach out to a doctor immediately if you experience bleeding.
Symptoms that go beyond the physical
Vaginismus goes beyond the physical symptoms as well. Those with the condition also experience emotional and mental health impacts like shame, relationship and sex issues, anxiety and depression.
Exploring treatment options and how to relieve symptoms is the best first step towards living with vaginismus.
What are the treatment options for vaginismus?
Thankfully, vaginismus is not a life-long sentence. Although painful and distressing, many effective treatment options can help you learn how to get over vaginismus and manage it. Below, we explore several of these remedies.
Seeking medical treatment for vaginismus can be confronting, but it can also definitely help. Treatments such as pelvic floor therapy, massage, vaginal trainers, dilators and vaginismus exercises have been proven to help relieve vaginismus symptoms in some people.
Psychological issues may be at the root of vaginismus, and counselling may be an effective form of treatment. A trained mental health professional can work with you to help you feel more comfortable with your body and discuss previous issues and trauma.
Sometimes, a little self-love is all we need. Relaxation techniques like breathwork and meditation can help relax your body and relieve the tight-vagina sensation. Exploring your genital area gently and at your own pace can also help you feel a little comfier.
Importantly, reaching out to a health professional you feel safe with is a great place to start. They can assess your symptoms and work with you to help you manage the condition.
Choosing vaginismus-friendly period care
Newsflash: traditional period products weren’t designed with every person in mind. And for those dealing with vaginismus, even the thought of attempting to insert a tampon is anxiety-inducing.
On the other hand, Modibodi’s period underwear is a safe, comfortable alternative to other forms of period care.
Our period undies are body-friendly in more ways than one. They have soft, stretchy materials, are easy to slip on and provide leak-proof, undetectable protection. They’re also available in a range of absorbencies, from super light to heavy-overnight, so you can be supported no matter your flow. This little bit of comfort can make a world of difference when you’re dealing with a condition like vaginismus.