Vaginismus can be a deeply distressing and often misunderstood condition affecting many women. Despite the strong desire to heal and overcome vaginismus, some women may find their progress hindered. There are three main reasons why your vagina may be reluctant to heal from vaginismus and understanding these obstacles can shed light on the complexities of the condition and help you on their journey towards recovery and empowerment.
1. Your vagina continues to react in a protective response to a perceived threat.
Vaginismus can often be traced back to a deeply ingrained protective response of the body. In certain cases, traumatic experiences, such as sexual abuse, painful medical procedures, or negative sexual encounters, may create a perceived threat in the subconscious mind. But also, more subtle and subconscious belief patterns such as vaginal shame, vaginal dissociation, a lack of understanding about vaginal physiology, or fear of the uncomfortable/unknown can lead to a vaginal threat response. The vagina, being an intimate and vulnerable part of the body, may react to these past experiences by involuntarily tightening its muscles, attempting to protect you from the potential harm it perceives.
This defensive reaction can create a cycle of fear and anxiety surrounding penetration or any attempt at vaginal insertion. The subconscious fear of pain or harm reinforces the pelvic floor clenching, making it difficult for the vagina to relax and heal. To address this aspect of vaginismus healing, it’s essential to target breaking down the more subconscious patterns of thinking or responses to help your vagina see penetration as a positive and not a negative. Therapy techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness can help reframe negative perceptions and gradually ease the vagina’s protective response.
2. Neural pathways continue to reinforce pelvic floor clenching.
The brain and body are interconnected through a network of neural pathways. Over time, vaginismus can establish strong neural connections between fear, discomfort, and pelvic floor clenching. These reinforced pathways create a default response in the pelvic floor muscles, leading to involuntary contraction even during non-threatening situations.
Breaking this cycle requires diligent effort and patience. Pelvic floor physical therapy, guided by a trained specialist, can help identify and address these neural pathways. Techniques that help you reconnect with your pelvic floor, learn how to relax and control your pelvic floor muscles, and understand movement patterns throughout your body can help you shift and learn new helpful pathways. By re-establishing healthier neural connections and using neuroplasticity, the pelvic floor can gradually overcome the involuntary clenching and encourage healing.
3. A large disconnect remains between your conscious brain and your pelvic floor muscles.
In some cases, women with vaginismus may experience a disconnection between their pelvic floor muscles and their conscious control. This disconnection can manifest as an inability to relax or engage the pelvic floor muscles voluntarily. This lack of control may lead to a feeling of frustration and hopelessness, hindering the healing process.
To address this disconnect, it’s crucial to work on enhancing the mind-body connection. Mindful practices, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation, can help you gain better awareness of your pelvic floor muscles. Additionally, incorporating pelvic floor exercises, like pelvic floor drops, into a daily routine can improve conscious control and engagement. Seeking guidance from a pelvic floor therapist or vaginismus coach can also provide personalized strategies to reconnect with and regulate the pelvic floor.
Putting it all together
Vaginismus can present significant challenges on the path to healing, but understanding the reasons behind its reluctance can empower women to overcome these obstacles. The protective response of the vagina, reinforced neural pathways, and a disconnect between conscious control and the pelvic floor all play significant roles in the healing process. Through a combination of professional guidance, therapy, and mindful practices, women can gradually reclaim control over their bodies and embrace the journey towards healing and empowerment.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive approach that addresses these 3 and other barriers to your vaginismus recovery, then I encourage you to check out our Mind-Body-Sex Reset Vaginismus Program or schedule a free consultation. This unique program uses a neuroscience-informed biopsychosocial approach to help you move past vaginismus for good!