When couples fight about trivial things, it is possible that sometimes there are far worse and bigger issues which are buried deep at the subconscious level. We often hear people say that now we live in a ‘liberated society’, where most forms of sexual practices and relationships are seen as acceptable. And yet, any psychosexual difficulty might still easily get brushed away under the carpet.
In a country such as ours, a problem related to any sexual disorder becomes cause for ample mismanagement of the issue. Needless to say that the reasons are many, ranging from both men and women not wanting to let anyone know that they are suffering from an issue, trying to put veils on it, to sheer embarrassment of taking up an issue that has no grounds in a physical problem to seek medical help. Men folk of course, have ego issues and feel that their manhood might be in question. As these people lead unsatisfactory sex lives, this creates its stress, not only for the individual but for their relationship as well, which in turn leads to a million other problems. And while women and men both hide away in secrecy, they live lives devoid of normal sex- they live, often in fear and pain, losing self worth when they can very easily put themselves out of their misery as well as enjoy a healthy happy sexual life.
It is pertinent for any man or woman going through a difficult time to know that they are not alone- not in their psychosexual issue nor in the fact that so many others are also uncomfortable in seeking help. Even when people contact their doctor if they think they may have psychosexual dysfunction, it is not always possible for them to get the right kind of help unless they are guided in the correct direction to seek out a therapist who knows about these disorders.
Psychosexual dysfunction is not life threatening, but the damage it causes on your relationship and self-esteem, requires that any such person be treated with utmost respect, gentleness, reassurance and encouragement. One Psychosexual disorder that a woman shared with us for this column is called Vaginismus. Belonging to the lower class, working as a house maid, it was not easy for this woman to be suffering from an ailment which she could not even understand. Even more difficult was the task to talk about it and seek help for it. But as we have already established, that could be the dilemma of any woman belonging to any class. Now a little about what the problem: Vaginismus is an unconscious spasm or tightening of the muscles around the vagina which stops penetration. When a woman has Vaginismus, her vagina’s muscles squeeze or spasm when something is entering her, like a tampon or a penis. It can range from being mildly uncomfortable to being extremely painful.
Painful sex is often the first sign that a woman has Vaginismus. The pain happens only with penetration. It usually goes away after withdrawal, but not in all cases and not always. Women over the world have described the pain as a tearing sensation or a feeling like the man is ‘hitting a wall’. Many women who have Vaginismus also feel discomfort during a doctor’s internal pelvic exam.
Causes: Doctors do not know exactly why Vaginismus happens. It is usually linked to anxiety and fear of having sex, hence being catagorised under the head of psychosexual issues. But it is unclear whether the anxiety comes first or the pain comes first. Some women have the issue in all situations and with any object. Some feel the pain with sexual intercourse only and not with tampons or during medical exams. Others have it only in certain circumstances, like with one partner and not with others, as narrated by women in many countries.
It would be wise for you to know at this point that if you feel you suffer from this problem, you can be wrong as well. Other medical problems like infections can also cause painful intercourse. So it is important to see a doctor to determine the underlying cause of pain during sex.
Treatment: Women with Vaginismus can do exercises in the privacy of their own home, to learn to control and relax the muscles. The approach is called ‘progressive desensitization’. The idea is to get comfortable with insertion. Squeeze the same muscles you use to stop the flow of urine when urinating, hold for two seconds, relax. Do about 20 at a time. You can do them as many times a day as you want.
After a few days, insert one finger, up to about the first knuckle joint, inside, while doing the exercises. It is a good idea to clip your fingernails first and use a lubricating jelly. Or do the exercises in a bathtub, where water is a natural lubricant. Start with one finger and work your way up to three. You will feel the vagina’s muscles contracting around your finger and you can always take your finger out if you are not comfortable. For women whose Vaginismus is related to fear or anxiety, therapy helps.
Remember you are not left alone in the world to fend for yourself, so reach out for help and help a friend who might be in need and fears to speak out. If your partner suffers from any psychosexual problem, remember to treat him or her with the utmost kindness and respect the other person enough to use discretion, if you want to solve the issue.