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How physical therapy can help to treat vaginismus

Vaginismus Physical Therapy
3 minutes, 21 seconds

Vaginismus is a medical condition characterized by involuntary muscle contractions within the vagina. These occur when the threat of penetration is present. Many people experience it during intercourse; others, when they’re undergoing a pelvic examination, and even when they’re attempting to insert a tampon. It is a condition that can be painful to experience and may prompt some people to seek out treatment for it. It’s thought that around 1% to 7% of the world’s population experience this condition, but it may be vastly underreported.

What are some of the possible causes of this condition?

  • Surgical procedures.
  • Trauma during childbirth.
  • An anxiety-related disorder. 
  • Sexual trauma or fears related to sex.

What are the most common treatment options for people with this condition?

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy — Since much of this condition is believed to be rooted in psychological processes, one option for treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy. This technique encourages thought processes to be challenged with the goal of experiencing a new behavioral outcome.
  • Kegels — Some people opt to use Kegels as a treatment method for vaginismus. This method is used to strengthen the vaginal muscles and to help manage involuntary muscle spasms. Kegels are a type of pelvic floor exercise that is often used to help strengthen the urinary tract, the bowels and the pelvic organs. 
  • Vaginal dilators — For those who deal with vaginismus during intercourse, vaginal dilators may be considered. These vaginal dilators, also called inserts, are made of plastic or silicone and inserted into the vaginal canal to stretch the vaginal tissue. Those who use vaginal dilators will typically start with a small insert and gradually work their way up to larger inserts as their tissue stretches.
  • Physical therapy — Physical therapy is another treatment option for those who have vaginismus. A physical therapist can factor in your unique circumstances and create a personalized treatment plan for your condition while keeping your comfort a priority. They’ll prescribe pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the control of your pelvic muscles and to relax your pelvic muscles so releasing from a contraction can be more easily managed.

What are some ways that physical therapists can help you treat vaginismus?

  • Breathing exercises — Learning proper breathing techniques, although they won’t cure your vaginismus, can help make the treatment of your vaginismus more effective during physical therapy. Not to mention, it can help relieve stress for some people, which can help with the management of vaginismus.
  • Stretches — Stretching the muscles that support the vagina can be helpful during the treatment of vaginismus during physical therapy, for reasons similar to the breathing exercises.
  • Pelvic floor exercises — Most people could benefit from pelvic floor exercises. The pelvic floor muscles affect so much of your body that they really deserve a lot of attention and focus during a physical therapy session. Your therapist may encourage you to perform a series of targeted pelvic floor exercises to learn how to strengthen those muscles, how to relax them, and how to eventually support your pelvic floor with your surrounding muscles.
  • Electrical signaling — Electric signaling is a form of technology that allows a patient to see how their vaginal muscles contract and relax during a physical therapy session. Using electric signaling technology can help bring a patient’s attention to their muscle activity and help them gradually become more conscious of their contractions.

Why is physical therapy an effective treatment option for vaginismus?

Physical therapy can be an effective treatment option for some people with vaginismus because it is minimally invasive and relies on the guidance of a trained professional with your best interest in mind. A physical therapist will create a customized treatment plan that is designed around your unique situation and the feedback you provide them with. They’re committed to helping you manage your vaginismus symptoms so that you can have an improved quality of life.

Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch physical therapy for vaginismus

At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we’re proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need. 

Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that’s close to you and that can help you address your vaginismus. 

Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform. 

Come find help for your injury or chronic condition today!


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