In a previous blog post I wrote about the impact having vaginismus can have on an individual. Lately my work with clients has highlighted how partners of someone experiencing vaginismus can also be impacted, as well as their role in the treatment.
As a partner, it may seem confusing as to what vaginismus is and what the causes are. This makes sense, as there are various psychological and physiological factors that can contribute to it, and treatment can require multiple professionals to target various symptoms. A big theme that comes up for women with vaginismus is feeling pressured to resolve it, and like they’re on their own in the process. As a partner, you can help support your partner by educating yourself on vaginismus, and showing that you’re there with them. This can entail patience, approaching conversations with non-judgment and being supportive of boundaries.
Your feelings also matter. It is common for partners of someone with vaginismus to feel rejected or inadequate. This is especially common if you’ve experienced penetrative sex previously. It is important to keep in mind that vaginismus is not a reflection of your partner’s feelings towards you. You may also experience your own anxiety or dysfunction with sex. Individual therapy with an experienced sex therapist can help you better understand the complexities of vaginismus, and process the feelings and challenges that may be coming up for you as a partner. Couples sex therapy can also help facilitate more open communication and understanding of each other’s feelings, and help you feel more connected in the path forward.
Sarah Dale, MSc., RP, RSW, RMFT