Dyspareunia vs Vaginismus: Here’s How They Are Different

It can be very frustrating to hear your friends talk about how wonderful sex is  and they cant wait to hook up with the next guy when sex is very painful for you.

Its not that you hate sex.  You just don’t see the big deal and only do it to keep your man happy and at home. Besides, he also assume it because he has an anaconda.

You are not alone. There is a actually a medical term for pain during sex: Dyspareunia and Vaginismus.

A lot of women experience pain during intercourse and if they aren’t aware of what’s happening with their body, it can be quite frightening.  If you are one of those women, it’s important for you to know the difference between vaginismus and dyspareunia as awareness is one step towards getting the right treatment for you.

Dyspareunia refers to the pain women experiences during sexual intercours. It can either be superficial or deep.

Here are their differences:

Superficial dyspareunia is primarily felt around the vaginal opening. Women with this condition constantly experience itching, pain, stinging and burning feeling. In some cases, it’s triggered by activities not related to sex, such as running or walking.

This type of dyspareunia is commonly caused by urethral problems, sexual trauma or inadequate lubrication. The application of topical irritants or the presence of vaginal infection can also cause superficial dyspareunia.

Deep dyspareunia, on the other hand, is generally triggered by pelvic thrusting during sexual intercourse. It can be caused by a wide range of pelvic problems, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, urinary tract infections, and local surgery.

Vaginismus, meanwhile, is one of the most common causes of dyspareunia in women.

It refers to the pain that happens after the muscles in the lower third of your vagina, pelvic floor muscles and perineal area involuntarily contracts. It can happen after a painful first intercourse, sexual abuse, rape, fear of getting pregnant, relationship problems or as a result of a frightening medical procedure during childhood.

There are two types of vaginismus.

  • Primary vaginismus happens in women with no history of vaginal penetration.
  • Secondary vaginismus happens after a successful vaginal penetration in the pass.

Women diagnosed with either type can show minor to severe symptoms. In the latter category, a woman may completely avoid intimacy or going through gynecological examinations. Severe vaginismus can also make it hard for a woman to insert tampons.

Seeing Your Doctor

Experiencing pain during sexual intercourse is not a subject everyone feels comfortable talking about, even to doctors and healthcare professionals. If you are delaying your appointment because you are feeling embarrassed about discussing your symptoms, preparing can help.

Before you actually go and see your doctor, it can help if you can write down all your sexual problems. Take note of when they started and what conditions trigger them. You may also want to list down all other conditions you’ve been treated for before.

If you are currently taking any medications, supplements or vitamins, let your doctor know. Include their dosages and frequency, too.

Diagnosing Dyspareunia

The first step in diagnosing dyspareunia is performing a pelvic exam. In this procedure, your doctor will use a cotton-tipped swab around the vaginal area to check where it actually hurts. Then, with a speculum, he will perform an examination of your vagina and cervix.

For some women, this part of the assessment is too painful to complete. If that’s the case, tell your doctor so he can adjust as necessary. He may use a smaller speculum to make the procedure less painful or he can delay the assessment until you’re no longer feeling pain.

After that, your doctor will palpate your ovaries and uterus with one hand placed over your abdomen and his fingers inside your vagina.

If he suspects an infection, he’ll take a sample of your cervix or vagina and send it to the lab for further tests. He may also require you to submit a sample of your urine for testing.

Imaging studies may be necessary to complete the diagnosis. An X-ray, CT scan, and pelvic sonogram are common examples.

Treatment Options

Dyspareunia is a treatable condition and the right treatment option for you will depend on the cause of your pain.

If it’s vaginismus, your treatment options will generally include counseling, education, and exercises.

With education, you will generally be taught about your anatomy and how your organs work during intercourse or when you are aroused. You’ll learn a great deal about the muscles in your pelvic area as well. These pieces of information are critical for you to understand how your body and how it’s responding to sexual arousal.

You may also need to undergo counseling with your partner. Your counselor will teach you about the most effective relaxation techniques you can use so you can experience a more comfortable intercourse.

In addition to sex therapy and counseling, you may also be advised to use lubrication,  vaginal dilators and perform Kegel exercises to increase intimacy and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.

If your dyspareunia isn’t related to vaginismus and it’s caused by an infection, you’ll be given medications to treat the cause of the problem. If it’s insufficient lubrication, you’ll be given medicines for that, too.

To promote comfort, there are a few things you and your partner can do to minimize pain during any sexual activity.

For one, it’s best to try out different positions. If you experience severe pain when there’s deep thrusting, you can change positions. Being on top sometimes help since it will enable you to regulate penetration to what’s comfortable to you.

Don’t forget to communicate. Be open to your partner and talk about what feels good and what triggers your pain. If you suddenly feel uncomfortable, it can help if you can tell your partner to go slower.

Foreplay matters, too. It stimulates natural lubrication so you’ll feel less pain.

Avoiding sex because of pain can affect your self esteem and  relationship with your partner. Therefore, you should seek guidance from your doctor. A Gynecologist is best suited to help you come up with a treatment plan that is right for you.

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