How Botox Is Used to Treat Vaginismus
Vaginismus is a condition that causes the vaginal muscles to contract or spasm involuntarily when something enters the vagina. If you find it uncomfortable or painful to insert a tampon, undergo a pelvic exam or have vaginal intercourse, you may have vaginismus.
There are two types of vaginismus. Primary vaginismus is when a woman has never been able to insert anything into her vagina without feeling pain or discomfort. Secondary vaginismus is when the onset of pain and discomfort happens later in life, even though it had never been a problem before.
Unfortunately, vaginismus is a chronic condition and there is no quick fix. Vaginismus is typically treated with physical exercises and therapies, but emerging science has opened new doors to alternative treatments.
How Botox can help
Botulinum toxin, or Botox as it is universally known, is used to treat numerous conditions, from reducing the appearance of fine lines to treating migraines and easing chronic pain. However, when injected into the pelvic floor muscles, Botox can relax the area and alleviate the pain and spasms associated with vaginismus. Botox is often used in combination with other treatments, such as therapy and dilators, to get the patient comfortable with the idea of vaginal penetration during intercourse.
If you decide to try Botox, several injections will be made over the course of two to four months, but the effects will last longer. The Botox should relax your pelvic floor muscles, allowing you to get more comfortable with vaginal penetration. The injections are used in conjunction with other therapies to retrain your muscles.
Botox comes with possible side effects that include blurred vision, urinary incontinence, muscle stiffness, pain and itching. The benefits include pain relief in the pelvic floor muscles within a few days or weeks.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that using Botox for the treatment of vaginismus may be covered by insurance. Make sure you check your coverage before you consent to treatment.
Other treatments for vaginismus
Botox typically isn’t the first treatment for vaginismus. Other treatments take a more natural approach to reducing the automatic reflex of the muscles. Before making any decisions, you should speak with your gynecologist or other healthcare professional about all options, which might include any of the following:
- Vaginal dilators to help you gradually get comfortable with insertions and penetration
- Topical creams to help numb the area and reduce pain
- Physical therapy to strengthen pelvic muscles
- Sex therapy to address any psychological factors that might be contributing to the problem, or resulting from it
- Group therapy to help you feel less alone and ease your stress as you work your way through treatment
You and your doctor can choose any combination of these treatment options until you find something that works for you. Your journey to recovery may take anywhere from a few weeks to a year or more, but you do not have to live with vaginismus forever.