Sometimes, when things get a little difficult to manoeuvre, we feel like we’ve hit a wall. And sometimes, this happens when you are putting in your tampon or menstrual cup.
Here at Asan, we’re all about making things less difficult (it is in the name), so we’re debunking myths about a problem that is in fact experienced by millions of people around the world -- vaginismus.
Why does it feel like insertable products refuse to enter my body?
Because your body might be refusing them! Vaginismus is the body's automatic reaction to the fear of some or all types of vaginal penetration. Whenever you try, your vaginal muscles and pelvic floor spasm and seize up on their own, causing discomfort or pain.
It is important to remember that you have no control over this response. The reasons a person experiences vaginismus are varied and not always clear, but they are mostly psychological. This means that it can be treated.
How can you treat vaginismus?
Check-in with your OB-GYN, or get pelvic floor therapy, which can assist with muscle relaxation. Other relaxation techniques include mindfulness and breathing exercises to help you learn to relax the vaginal muscles; attending therapy to investigate any past trauma that may be causing the area to spasm; and performing Kegel exercises.
Kegel exercises progressively desensitise the vagina to insertion. Do Kegel exercises by squeezing the same muscles you use to stop the flow when you’re peeing. Start by, squeezing the muscles; then hold them for 2 to 10 seconds; then relax. Do about 20 Kegels at a time.
After a few days, try inserting one, two, then three fingers, up to about the first knuckle joint, inside your vagina while doing the exercises.You'll feel your vagina's muscles clenching around your finger. Make sure to clip your fingernails first and use a lubricant, or do the exercises in a bathtub, where water is a natural lubricant. If you gradually get your muscles used to the pressure, you will be able to get inserts into your vagina.
Can you use a menstrual cup if you have vaginismus?
For people with vaginismus, inserting anything is a very intimidating experience. We understand that the transition to a menstrual cup can seem daunting. And as much as we love to promote the Asan cup, your period is an abundantly personal experience and it is important to do what is right for you.
However, the great news is that we do know of many Asan cup users who have had successful treatment for vaginismus, and now happily use our cup. Through a combination of exercises, mindfulness and therapy, vaginismus can be overcome. Just like learning to insert and remove a menstrual cup can take time and practice, overcoming vaginismus gets easier with repeated attempts.
For users who have had issues with insertion in the past, we advise starting with our light/medium flow cup, as it is slightly smaller and less firm -- which makes it easiest to insert.