Vaginal Pain on the Brain

October 6, 2019


Vaginismus isn’t only a sexual issue, it effects people that are not even sexually active.  It is a condition where your pubococcygeus  muscles (PC) tighten or involuntarily clench when it feels threatened aka expecting penetration.  This could be a tampon, a finger, a penis, a speculum, etc.  This is a psycho-sexual condition, meaning your brain is telling those muscles to clench.


Ugh! And it sure doesn’t discriminate; vulva owners of all age ranges and backgrounds can be diagnosed with this condition.  Whether you have primary or secondary vaginismus you are not alone, as 12-21% of women in North America have genito-pelvic pain of varying etiologies.


There can be many contributing factors in both primary and secondary vaginismus, some which you may have no knowledge of because they are buried in your subconscious mind.  Your subconscious mind stores and retrieves data and it works day and night to make sure that your behavior fits a pattern obeying the commands of your conscious mind.  95% of your life is determined by your subconscious mind, so it’s basically running your life.  You couldn’t possibly remember the millions of pieces of data received and stored in your subconscious brain, which is why vaginismus can seem like a very confusing and tricky monster.


Primary vaginismus can be prompted by underlying negative beliefs and messages about sex and virginity due to your upbringing, poor body image and self worth, limited understanding of your own body and genitalia, or a history of sexual trauma.


Secondary vaginismus is often situational and associated with dyspareunia (painful sex). It is most likely a conditioned response to pain brought on by a previous painful sexual experience, sexual trauma, painful childbirth, infection, surgeries, scarring, inflammation, and more.


Shame, guilt, fears, self-doubt, and a combo of these can play a part in both primary and secondary vaginismus.   


Can you remember every time you experienced any of those emotions? I would guess not. The thing is, is that you may not even know what is stored in your subconscious mind that is re-creating the painful scenario over and over again.  This is known as the pain cycle; a pain cycle that can be broken with intervention using hypnotherapy.  It is ideal to use this type of alternative treatment during a vaginal dilation practice. Hypnotherapy guides you to deeply relax your mind and body, including all of your muscles. Once relaxed, your fears and self-doubts are quieted and your subconscious mind is open and receptive to change.  Imagine your brain as a flower garden where you are pulling weeds (negative thoughts and beliefs) and planting seeds (positive thoughts and beliefs).  Not only does this approach teach you how to relax, it will also allow you to let go and release old feelings of shame, guilt, and fear and improve your self-worth and confidence.  With primary vaginismus, your mindset and beliefs around sexuality are discussed and reframed as needed.  Even if you consciously believe something different, your subconscious mind may be acting out something else. Your brain works in images and does not know the difference between past, present, and the future. If you have secondary vaginismus, I am able to guide you back to a time when penetration was pleasurable and pain free. Your brain registers this as a present experience and we also apply it to the present and the future without fear.


It is important to take a team approach when treating these conditions.  So that begs the questions, what else can you do?

  • Create an environment surrounded by positive beliefs around sex.  Your thoughts should align with this mindset.  Positive sexuality affirmations are great for establishing that environment.

  • Seek out a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist in your area.

  • Choose a vaginal dilator set and work closely with your Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist so that they can show you how to properly use the dilators and progress to your end goal.


The sexual wellness program is customized for each individual.  You can find more details here.



Health Disclaimer. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment. Please consult your medical care provider for any medical concerns or diagnoses. You are responsible for your own health.


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Natalie Hatjes, MS CHT

Sex Coach & Hypnotherapist

South Florida

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