Vaginismus - It's treatment with Hypnotherapy
by Thomas Nicoli CHt.
After a recent successful 6 week period of sessions with a new client, I became aware of another life altering physical disorder that a large number of women suffer from directly, while their sexual partner/spouse suffers from indirectly. And because of society’s glaring eye and quick judgment creating unnecessary embarrassment, the majority of these women are left to feel “incomplete” or “inadequate”. The stories I read during my research of this subject, along with my clients personal story, moved me to write this article in hope of alerting others like her and fellow hypnotherapists to a viable avenue of therapy. The disorder I refer to is vaginismus.
(Please note: Make sure that any pain you experience during intercourse is not as a result of organic medical problems - consult your medical practitioner)
What is Vaginismus?
Vaginismus is an involuntary spasm of the entrance to the vagina making intercourse painful or even impossible. Sarrel and Sarrel (1979) expand their definition of vaginismus to include difficult or uncomfortable penetration due to involuntary vaginal contractions. With this expanded definition, about 20% of all women seen by the Sarrel's experience some degree of vaginismus.
The Cause of Vaginismus
The cause is usually of psychological origin, usually fear. Often young girls have been told by parents that sex is dirty and should be avoided or they may be reprimanded for being curious about their sexuality. Bad and painful sexual experiences may also cause vaginismus.
Frightening or painful experiences can cause some women to believe or fear that penetration might be painful or even impossible. Cultural and religious backgrounds are sometimes strict and can reinforce the 'ideal of the virgin'.
Stories about painful first intercourse reinforce fears of penetration. In some cases, vaginismus may eventuate after a history of successful and enjoyable intercourse - due to a vaginal infection, the physical after- effects of childbirth, tiredness or some other cause, which causes painful intercourse, possibly leading to a pattern of further vaginismus even though the original cause has disappeared. The anticipation of painful penetration - even though there may be no physical impediment to normal, painless intercourse - can be a common cause of vaginismus.
Treatment for Vaginismus
As vaginismus is mainly of psychological rather than physical origin, therapy tends to focus on relaxation to remove the instigating anxiety.
The basic principles of treatment of sexual dysfunction’s take into consideration the following:
- Mutual responsibility
- Attitude change
- Elimination of Performance Anxiety
- Increase in Communication
"It is a very easy problem to cure; the key is convincing the woman that there is no anatomical problem, it is simply a matter of learning to relax her vaginal muscles in order to accommodate the penis." John D. Perry, Ph.D.,
Vaginismus is very easy to treat and according to Dr. V Atputharajah, the author of 'Virgin Wives', majority of cases can be resolved within a period of six weeks.
As with any disorder that is mind related, the education of the client to this fact is of great importance. It's the natural reaction of most clients I see to think that any physical problem is just that, physical. After the client understands that the problem lies within the subconscious and that they are completely capable physically, then the acceptance of suggestion becomes possible.
The cause or trigger with each individual varies. During the initial interview, you will most likely learn what it is that is the root of the problem. If not, while under hypnosis, ask the client the necessary questions to get the information you need in order to create the proper suggestions for a successful outcome. It may be that you will become aware of the exact cause during the second visit, after the client has had a week to become more accepting of the real reason for the vaginismus. Sometimes I find that after the first hypnosis session and a following week of using the prepared tape I make for the client, they learn so much more of themselves and can’t wait to tell you what they have learned. I’m sure most of you can relate to this.
This is an actual case reference. My client, 37 years old, had been married for 10 years. She had never consummated the marriage and was reaching out for a cure, for she wanted desperately to have a family. Her disorder was not a new one. She had never even had a complete gynecological exam due to her severe case of vaginismus. So, not only is this a problem regarding a healthy and natural sex life, but it is a real health issue for the woman.
I was able to learn during her interview that with an Asian mother, sex was not talked of openly and was actually made to seem wrong. Added to this, when as a young woman, a man she was infatuated with made an aggressive sexual overture and created the trigger that compounded the cause of her vaginismus.
As with most cases, I accumulate printed material during my research and offer some of it to my clients. This is part of the education aspect of the therapy. Reading is an indirect form of self suggestion and I find it very beneficial for the outcome. This additional material also validates to them everything you have explained.
While under hypnosis these are a few of the suggestions I used.
"Any inappropriate behavior in your past was not your fault but that of the other person. Sex is as natural as breathing, for sex is the act of procreation. It is acceptable to openly give yourself to someone you love and accept, like your husband. If childbirth is possible, even simple and painless in some instances, then penetration is now obviously not only possible but completely acceptable. You are a completely natural, healthy, loving woman and willingly engage in the beautiful and natural physical act of love with your husband."
The hypnotherapy was successful and one of the most gratifying experiences thus far for me. We are always pleased to see our clients succeed in whatever their goals are and to be a part of it, no matter how small a part, but this was different. This client was now actually able to be, as she put it, “ a real wife and a mother.”
- Psychological trauma caused by guilt, anxiety, loss of self-esteem, and feelings of inadequacy, or interpersonal problems resulting from the disorder.
- Painful intercourse for sexual partner.
Though there is more information regarding vaginismus available, you will find that most of it is repetitive of what you have just read. It is always best to be as informed as possible through your own research before beginning any therapy with your client, however, as hypnotherapists, we can use this information coupled with what we can learn from our client directly, while under hypnosis, and begin a successful treatment program.
I had no expectations to be involved in any form of sexual therapy as a hypnotherapist but I will never forget this case.
Complete Guide to Pediatric Symptoms, Illness & Medications by H. Winter Griffith, M.D. © 1989 The Putnam Berkley Group, Inc.;
Dr. V Atputharajah. MBBS. M.MED(O&G), Consultant to Dept. of Reproductive Medicine, Kandang Kerbau Hospital, Singapore.
World Book Medical Encyclopedia 1998
John D. Perry, Ph.D.,
Tom Nicoli, BCH, CI
NGH Board Certified Hypnotist
NGH Certified Instructor
Author, speaker & trainer
A Better You Hypnosis, Inc.