I am suffering from vaginismus and can’t seem to use tampons. What is it and will I ever be able to use tampons?

Vaginismus is a feeling of pain around the vaginal opening. This occurs because the muscles at the opening to the vagina tighten when something is going to be placed inside the vagina such as a tampon, a “speculum” (a medical device used during a pelvic exam) or with vaginal intercourse. Both adolescents and adult women can have vaginismus. The reaction is similar to blinking your eye when you first learn to insert contact lenses. Women who have had an unpleasant experience such as pain while trying to insert a tampon or discomfort with a pelvic exam or an assault, may be more apt to have vaginismus. Vaginal discomfort can also be caused from other conditions such as a yeast infection or a small opening in the hymen. That’s why it’s important to talk to your health care provider (HCP).

Treatment often includes more than one approach. For example, if symptoms are connected with an unpleasant or distressing experience, treatment may include talking with a counselor. Your HCP may suggest “pelvic floor” physical therapy and/or the use of vaginal dilators. Pelvic floor physical therapy is usually done by a physical therapist who has special training in women’s health. Sometimes young and adult women are taught how to use various size vaginal dilators that help to stretch the vaginal tissue. With time and treatment, it is likely that you will be able to use tampons.