PSYCHOTHERAPY FOR VAGINISMUS
What keeps on coming up is the need to address the psychological aspect of vagnismus, and not just the physical. I know what you thinking, it’s just going to be a lot of talking and how is that going to help?
First step is to book with the right professional. It needs to be with a sex therapist or a psychologist that has a strong focus in sexual therapy. The psychological fear response of having sex can be so strong that it can make penetration absolutely impossible. The fear needs to be unpacked for you to understand what is driving the fear and then overcome it.
It could be anything, the fear of losing control, a negative sexual experience, anticipating pain due to conditioning. Also, religious beliefs, sexual abuse, a medical trauma, relationship issues and the list goes on.
The therapy will also give you more insight into yourself and break the belief that Vaginismus is “all in your head”. It helps you to discover a deep connection with your pelvis and teaches you that penetration is ok.
Team Beauty Warriors strongly suggests that you include your partner in these sessions when you are comfortable. The impact of you withdrawing in intimacy often leaves your partner feeling like they have done something wrong. This can lead to more relationship issues.
BOTOX FOR YOUR BITS
This is an option to help overregulated muscle contractions. Botulinum toxin was first used as a purely medical treatment for migraines, teeth grinding, neck spams, overactive bladder etc. It would make sense to use it in the treatment of Vaginismus. The vaginal muscles are in a constant state of tightness and varying degrees of spasm.
The right dosage of botulinum toxin would assist in relaxing the muscle and deregulating the stress response to the area. This makes penetration easier, reducing the fear and helping with the pain cycle. This can be done by an aesthetic medical practitioner, a doctor who specialises in woman’s sexual health or a fertility doctor.
Other medical interventions which could be incorporated are anti-anxiety and muscle relaxant medication.
Warning – We never recommend vaginal botulinum toxin done in isolation. Vaginismus needs a multi-disciplinary approach for effective treatment and results.
CLINICAL HYPNOTHERAPY AS AN OPTION
“Hypnotherapy is an altered state of consciousness similar to relaxation, meditation, and prayer. Once in these altered states, access is provided to deeper levels of the psyche,” explains Dr Elmari Mulder Craig. Dr Mulder Craig is a European-Certified Sexologist and Relationship Expert, Clinical Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapist. She is also a part of the My Sexual Health team.
She is one of South Africa’s best-known sexologists. A globally recognized authority in the fields of sexuality and relationships and has 25 years’ experience in private practice. Dr Mulder Craig goes on to say, “Trauma can also induce powerful biochemical responses in the brain. The brain becomes habituated to these same biochemical responses. The body-mind is set to maintain a state of vigilance to protect from further assault.”
This would certainly be the case for woman you suffer from Vaginismus. The cellular memory of a sexual abuse or trauma related to the pelvic floor region unconsciously reacts in a protective state. The muscles go into an involuntary spam just thinking about penetration.
Dr Mulder Craig explains, “For many childhood sexual abuse survivors, sexuality has become associated with a very negative and humiliating experience. The body and sexual pleasure, is seen as dirty and disgusting.”
“Sexual activity can trigger flashbacks in which one experiences the emergence of old traumatic memories. It can also evoke feelings of pain, fear, betrayal, guilt, shame, revulsion, and helplessness. Aversion to sexuality may cause some to completely shut down.”
WHAT IS HYPNOTHERAPY?
In the therapeutic process of deep healing and release of past traumas, the three most important elements are:
- The Energetic Somatic release of the painful emotions which in turn releases the shock and body armouring. This is embedded in the body’s musculature and nervous system.
- Containment of the process and the client’s energy. The hypnotic trance is induced, managed and terminated all in an orderly way. The therapist titrate the emotions through the extinguishing process and to help the client create a safe resource state. With anchors that they can always return to and use as a refuge when they feel overwhelmed. Ego strengthening is begun before the therapeutic part of the session, and continued throughout the corrective experiences of empowerment.
- The Corrective Experience. Whether there is an abreaction or not the adult part comes in to express for the child. Being in a hypnotherapy state creates a safe space to release childhood trauma. This is what the child could not express at the time of the trauma thus overcoming early inhibitions. The child’s experience is legitimized in. The client learns to attribute the abusive behaviour to the abuser, not accepting blame themselves. This in turn helps to discriminate between self-identity and introjected qualities taken on from others. They reconnect memories and emotions to events, giving meaning to past events that were traumatic. Neural integration is being achieved.
HOW DOES HYPNOTHERAPY WORK?
“When we reach our clients in their physical and emotional experience, as well as their cognitive and mental understanding shifts can take place.” Dr Mulder Craig stresses “Talking alone is not sufficient to heal trauma. The memories are carried deep in the unconscious embedded in the body. Recording ‘fears set down at a young age’ in the amygdala, the one part of the brain that never forgets. That’s why therapy is seldom successfully done in one or two sessions.”
She adds, “The beauty of hypnotherapy is that we can follow the bridge that takes us through the life of a person. It helps us get right to the sources of dysfunctional patterns and anxiety. Hypnotherapy treats the complete mind, body and emotions as one complete package, and we can do that all at the same time.”
Team Beauty Warriors had to give clinical hypnotherapy a bash. We would definitely say that is works. It leaves you feeling extremely liberated once you have off loaded. However we must admit that you need to be open to it. Like any therapy it is something that you can doubt or resist. Or else it simply won’t work. Promise you are not going to cluck like a chicken or do hands stands and not remember. You are fully aware of what is going on around you; you are just in a very relaxed state.
OTHER RECOMMENDED MODALITIES
It is all about getting your pelvis in a state of relaxation. Getting to know what works for you and then find the combination that yields best results. So the other treatments that you may want to investigate are:
- Pilates to strength your core. Ensure that you breath to relax the pelvic floor muscles in the exercise
- Stretch therapy
- Trauma release therapy
- Connective tissue massage
- Cranial sacral therapy
Our parting words – Become aware of the emotional stresses in your life. Listen to how your body reacts and which stresses trigger pelvic floor pain. Use the above therapies to help regulate your negative responses to these stresses. Massage, extended foreplay can help relaxation before sex. Your position during sexual activity is important; explore what works for you to enjoy free pain sex.