Writing by Rebecca May // photograph by Jonathan Borba
According to a recent study, one in 10 women finds sex painful and a leading cause is a condition known as vaginismus.
The NHS defines it as the body’s automatic reaction to the fear of some or all types of vaginal penetration and inability to allow penetration.
The vaginal muscles involuntarily tighten up just before sex and the woman has absolutely no control over it.
Celebrities such as Tanya Reynolds from Netflix Show, Sex Education, are tackling taboos and opening up conversation around these issues, she even admitted in a recent interview that she didn’t even realise what vaginismus was before the show but since it was featured, many young women have opened up to her about experiencing it.
A leading Vagina Therapist Jana Sheena at City Hypnosis is only too aware of this common but little-discussed problem.
She reveals she has treated hundreds of patients using hypnosis techniques to help tackle this “chronic pain condition”, which she says is a “huge strain and worry to women, both emotionally and physically”.
“Those with undiagnosed vaginismus can feel upset, embarrassed or abnormal, feelings which can prevent them from speaking to their GP. It can also impact upon self-esteem and can lead to anxiety and depression. There is still stigma attached to any intimate issues and much more awareness is needed”
Symptoms and what it feels like for sufferers
Jana Sheena says “Someone with the condition will experience muscle spasms which can range from mildly uncomfortable to very painful”
“The effects on women’s personal dating life and relationships are great as it can impact the sufferers confidence, family planning and critically, their ability to enjoy sex.”
It is claimed that many sufferers with this condition have never been able to use a tampon or insert a finger inside their vagina.
Mindfulness techniques and dilators to “stretch out the vagina”
The NHS suggests therapy and focus exercises, relaxation techniques, mindfulness and breathing exercises to help treat vaginismus.
Therapist Jana Sheena says “The underlying cause is completely psychological, which is why as a therapy, hypnosis is very effective”.
“The mind and the body are interlinked when it comes to sex and vaginismus. The underlying causes of the condition are varied but common factors include an irrational fear or anxiety about pain, past trauma, becoming pregnant or sexually transmitted infections”.
She also stresses that, “generalised anxiety or other anxiety disorders can cause vaginismus”.
Jana reveals that “some clients of mine have turned to vaginal dilators as a way of stretching the vagina but these women all still need to address their anxiety or fear for which hypnotherapy, sometimes in combination with Cognitive Behaviour Therapy can be life changing”.
Addressing negative thoughts
“Hypnotherapy and breathing techniques, which are integral part of the hypnotherapy practice, help to relax muscles as well as reduce anxiety/fear by addressing the negative thoughts and associated feelings. Positive hypnotic suggestions begin to rewrite those unhelpful negative patterns regarding intimacy. I usually suggest between 4 to 5 sessions for this particular issue”.
“The client learns to reprogram their cognition’s regarding the anxiety/fear and as a result the muscles controlled by our nervous system become gradually relaxed and ready for the penetration to be comfortable and pleasurable”
For more information about Jana Sheena visit her website.