Vaginismus is a condition that affects 2 in every 1000 women in their lifetime. Yet many people – even many of those who suffer from it – are unaware of what vaginismus is. That’s why Sh! Womenstore, a sex toy shop with a focus on sex education and outreach, has launched Vaginismus Awareness Day.
On the 15th September, they will dedicate the day to spreading the word about vaginismus and sharing resources for people who want to find out more.
What is vaginismus?
Vaginismus is a condition that makes penetration of the vagina painful. A few months ago we interviewed vaginismus expert Sarah Berry to find out more. Here’s what she said:
“Vaginismus occurs when a woman’s body tries to protect her from being penetrated – not just by a penis, but by anything including fingers, sex toys, tampons, medical instruments and more.”
She explained that there are two types of vaginismus. Primary vaginismus – where someone has always found penetration difficult or painful, and secondary vaginismus – which comes on later in life. The latter can often be the result of a traumatic event such as abuse or a difficult medical procedure, but it could also be brought on by a life event such as the menopause.
How do I know if I have vaginismus?
Vaginismus is often characterised by a burning or stinging sensation at the entrance to the vagina, or the involuntary tightening of vaginal muscles on penetration. Unfortunately, because vaginismus is still not widely understood, many people continue with painful penetrative sex assuming that’s just ‘how they are’ or ‘how sex feels’, and not everyone is able to get help with it.
There are things you can do if you have vaginismus – firstly talking to your GP or a sexual health expert. There’s plenty of advice over on the vaginismus awareness website. On top of this, if penetrative sex is painful for you, there might be other things you want to try such as using sex toys which don’t involve penetration – bullet or wand vibrators, for instance, or couples sex toys like the PULSE II DUO, which you can use in a number of positions to have amazing sex without penetration. There are also tools like dilation kits which include insertable dilators of gradually increasing sizes, which you can use to get accustomed to narrow, small objects, before working your way up at your own pace.
Why Vaginismus Awareness Day?
Sh! Womenstore decided to launch Vaginismus Awareness Day – on September 15th – to tackle this exact problem. Along with hosting an event at their store in Hoxton, they’re distributing resources online via the Vaginismus Awareness website, to spread the word about the condition and offer links and support for those affected. We love the idea of having a day to raise awareness – often being unable to talk about sexual issues makes those issues much worse, and can make sex incredibly difficult for people who suffer from conditions like vaginismus. As part of our campaign for #SexNotStigma, we want to encourage people to talk more about sex and masturbation, in the hope that in the future these problems can be tackled without shame or fear.