Is Vaginismus Curable? The Short Answer is Yes.
For anyone who has been facing vaginismus for some time, the idea that there is a cure for this condition may seem too good to be true. However, with the right strategies, accountability, and approach you can heal from vaginismus once and for all.
The problem with conventional treatments
I had vaginismus for 8 long years. I struggled with dilators, consistently failing out of pelvic floor therapy (yeah, embarrassing since I’m an occupational therapist), did endless pelvic floor exercises and relaxation, went to sex psychotherapy and counseling, and did all the breathing. I was an expert at all of the vaginismus treatments, or so I thought.
It was after my 4th time of “graduating” from pelvic floor therapy after my therapist “couldn’t do anything else for me” that I broke down. It had been 8 long years. I was exhausted, our marriage was hurting, intimacy was a chore… I was at a loss for what to do. I assumed that vaginismus really couldn’t be cured and if it could, I was the hopeless case.
After taking a step back, I realized perhaps I didn’t fail at all the vaginismus treatments, maybe they failed me.
The Cure: A Mind-Body Neuromodulation Approach
I have a history of working with clients with chronic pain and chronic conditions, specifically complex regional pain syndrome. I decided to apply the same mind-body neuromodulation approaches that I was using with my clients, to my vaginismus routine. I’m not going to say that I was cured overnight, but within a matter of weeks, I felt more connected and in control of my pelvis and sex was no longer painful! I, like many others who apply a mind-body neuromodulation approach to their recovery, was cured of vaginismus!
Now, for some, traditional pelvic floor therapy can be promising. But I’ve found that many women need a more comprehensive approach to curing their vaginismus. And here’s the reason: vaginismus isn’t just a muscle problem. It’s an over-firing of your nervous system as a result of a miscommunication between the brain and pelvic floor. Many definitions of vaginismus state that it’s an involuntary muscle spasm of the vaginal wall muscles. The problem is that conventional treatments focus on the ‘muscle spasm’ part of this definition, when they should really be focusing on the ‘involuntary’ part. This involuntary part is rooted in our nervous system.
That’s where the healing comes in- a mind-body neuromodulation approach.
A mind-body approach uses the evidence-based research of the biopsychosocial model for addressing chronic conditions that stem from an overactive nervous system. This approach targets vaginismus for what it really is- a miscommunication between the vagina (bio-), the mind (psycho-), and your partner/the penetrating activity (social) and the connecting link between these is your nervous system. Once you regulate and harmonize your nervous system so that it can send and receive the proper signals from your pelvic floor, brain, and body, you’ll be able to heal from vaginismus once and for all.
Cured means no more maintenance work
Now, I believe you truly can be cured of vaginismus. That means it’s in the past, the dilators go in a drawer forever, and you never experience that wall again. However, many women come to me asking about maintenance vaginal dilating or maintenance pelvic floor therapy. To be cured of vaginismus means vaginismus no longer has a hold on you- so no more maintenance dilating or therapy or fear that it’ll come back.
Maintenance dilating and therapy often are needed when you’ve not fully rewritten these pathways and your brain still has the option to decide penetration is going to be painful or impossible. This can happen from added stress, periods of nervous system dysregulation, faulty belief patterns, or continued pelvic floor dissociation. Our brains love returning to the familiar and easy, and if you haven’t rewritten your penetration neural pathways, your brain will likely default to these when the going gets tough. Once your nervous system has been rewired and neuroplasticity happens, your body has rewritten how it perceives and responds to penetration. And girl, you are cured!
So how do you apply a mind-body neuromodulation approach?
Well, it starts with knowing your own body and what it is trying to communicate to you. Things like interoception, body scans, and mindfulness can help you gain awareness of your body’s unique communication style.
Once you’ve learned what your body is trying to communicate and how it’s communicating, you can use neuromodulation strategies to help regulate and meet it’s needs. There are tons of different neuromodulation strategies that can help up-regulate (stimulate) or down-regulate (relax) your nervous system based on what your body is communicating. Each strategy has a different effect on each person, so it takes some trial and error, reflection, and practice to learn what works best for you!
Another key strategy is to keep your penetration/insertion time positive. Negative experiences can further fuel pain-pathways that perpetuate the vaginismus response. Rewiring the brain to see penetration/insertion as pleasurable, pleasant, and positive is key for neuroplasticity!
As you learn and grow in neuroplasticity and neuromodulation strategies, your body and nervous system start to create a harmony of interaction and communication that ultimate lead to better functioning and regulation- both in the bedroom and out of it!
A comprehensive approach
Because so many conventional approaches to vaginismus leave a person and a nervous system confused and needing more, I developed a comprehensive mind-body neuromodulation based program to help get you past vaginismus once and for all. I teach the wide range of neuromodulation strategies to give you a thorough toolbox to help listen to and regulate your unique system. This program is highly specialized to include the nuances of nervous system harmonization, neuroplasticity, vaginal re-education, and mind-body work so that your system can be rewritten top to bottom and inside and out! Check out my Mind-Body-Sex Reset program to learn more about this comprehensive approach and schedule a free consult to see if this would be a good fit for you!