We noted in "I Have Vagi-nis-huh?!," that vaginismus, vaginal tightness and spasming, is often caused by past trauma and negative feelings associated with penetration. In this blog, we're going to look at the limbic system—or the internal alarm that's been alerting the body of "danger."
The limbic system is a group of structures in your brain that deal with emotion, motivation, and memory. In our book, we liken that system to an internal alarm that, once triggered, makes intercourse (or inserting a tampon or a doctor's speculum) painful if not awkward and completely unachievable.
Here's how it works in the vaginismus-state:
The vaginal muscle group (sometimes called the "PC Muscles" or "Pelvic Floor Muscles") contracts, once triggered, tightly closing the entrance to the vagina.
Imagine an emergency gate swooping shut in the middle of a museum heist the second someone stumbles by a motion sensor. But, on the opposite side of that "gate," the vaginal muscle group is not in contraction at other times. It's in its more natural state.
As you can imagine, in that natural/normal state, the vaginal opening would adequately accommodate a penis, and certainly a speculum, finger, or tampon.
So let's discuss why your body is signaling an internal alarm to sound.
Whatever negative or positive thoughts we have about a subject, our bodies seize those messages and react accordingly. For instance, when something is perceived as harmful, our bodies tense up. The same thing is happening here; it's just a specific part of your body.
It typically looks something like this: A negative message is received—the limbic system reacts—an internal alarm sounds—the body answers. Although your desires might be saying one thing, your muscles could respond much differently.
It's like skiing for the first time. During your first attempt, you might be scared of getting hurt or injured. You might think to yourself, "I'm going to fall. That's going to hurt!"
That's your internal alarm sounding throughout your body, causing you to tense up in anticipation of the event. If the fear remains, you'll tense up in subsequent attempts as well.
The problem persists indefinitely until the negative messaging changes. Then, once you're able to relax and spend time improving, you'll become a pro on the "slopes." You'll be more comfortable, less tense, and will suddenly be able to move with the motions with greater ease.
Many women wonder why their internal alarm is overreacting but not their friend's or other women's. There's no real answer to that question. Everyone and every body reacts to individual life experiences differently.
The truth is, it's hard to pinpoint precisely why this happens to some women (and teens) and not others.
But, we're here for you, no matter how long you've had vaginismus. And we want to remind you that this is treatable. Our program teaches women how to learn muscle control and how to silence the alarm.
Once and for all.