5 exercises for vaginismus and how to do them
Dr. Maria Castellas

Dr. Maria Castellas

Feb 05Vaginismus

5 exercises for vaginismus and how to do them

What is Vaginismus?

Vaginismus is a disorder in which the muscles around the vagina tighten involuntarily, making penetration difficult or painful, such as during sexual intercourse, during a gynecological exam or when attempting to insert a tampon. This restriction is often an innate response, producing discomfort, anxiety, and aversion to sexual activity. Vaginismus may be a physical and emotional concern for individuals, therefore seeking professional help is critical for a correct diagnosis and management.

Pelvic stretches can benefit people with vaginismus by encouraging relaxation and flexibility in the pelvic floor muscles. Involuntary muscle contractions and rigidity in the pelvic floor are common features of Vaginismus, which can lead to discomfort and trouble with penetration. Pelvic stretches are designed to relieve muscular tension and increase muscle relaxation. 

 

How can exercise help manage Vaginismus?

  1. Increase Muscle Flexibility: Pelvic exercises and stretches lengthen the pelvic floor muscles gradually. Consistent stretching  enhances flexibility and as a result, lowers the sensation of tightness.
  2. Encourage Muscle Relaxation: Pelvic stretches, especially when paired with deep breathing and relaxation techniques, aid in general muscle relaxation. This is critical when dealing with the involuntary muscular spasms that characterise vaginismus.
  3. Increase Blood Flow: Stretching activities can increase blood flow to the pelvic area. Adequate blood flow can help muscles stay healthy and prevent tension.
  4. Improve Muscle Control: When performed consciously, pelvic stretches can improve awareness and control of the pelvic floor muscles. This enhanced control can help with the involuntary contractions associated with vaginismus.

Pelvic stretches are frequently used in conjunction with pelvic floor exercises, dilator therapy, and counselling for optimal healing and treatment of vaginismus. 

It is critical to emphasise that these stretches should be tackled gradually. Working with a healthcare expert, such as a pelvic floor physical therapist, can give personalised advice on stretching exercises that are suited for your individual condition.

 

Pelvic Floor Exercises for Vaginismus:

If you have vaginismus, these are 5 of our favourite pelvic floor stretches to get you started. 

 

Happy Baby Pose

Happy baby is a pelvic floor release stretch that is easily adaptable to varied levels of flexibility. Begin by resting on your back and bringing your feet towards the ceiling, keeping them wider than hip width.

Deeply inhale into the sides of your rib cage and belly. This stretch may be modified by looping a yoga belt or a bed sheet under the knees to assist and grab the legs if you can't yet reach your feet. 

In this posture, inhale and exhale for 10 breaths, feeling your pelvic floor muscles extending out and opening like a flower as you inhale and closing and rising as you exhale. If 10 belly breaths in this posture seem challenging for you, consider doing in breaks with 5 repetitions at first and then increasing to 10 belly breaths when you feel ready.  

 

Child’s Pose

Child's pose is known for its ability to stretch and release tension in the lower back, hips, and pelvic region. Here's how to do the child's pose:

Begin in a tabletop posture on your hands and knees. Wrists should be under shoulders, and knees should be under hips.

Slowly return your weight to your heels, keeping your arms outstretched in front of you.

Lower your torso to the floor and extend your arms in front of you. Your brow can rest on the mat. You can broaden your knees to generate extra room in the stretch for the pelvic region.

In this posture, inhale and exhale for 10 breaths, feeling your pelvic floor muscles extending out and contacting the floor as you inhale and closing and rising as you exhale. If 10 belly breaths in this posture seem challenging for you, starting with 5 repetitions at first and then increasing to 10 belly breaths when you feel ready.  

Child's pose can also be modified to change the stretch by placing a cushion behind the knees or in the front fold of the hips. Maintain a relaxed breathing pattern into the sides of the ribcage. Visualise yourself relaxing, dropping, or "letting go" in the pelvic floor.

 

Deep Squat

Squats work a variety of muscle groups, including those in the pelvic area, thighs and buttocks, and help with flexibility and relaxation. Holding onto the kitchen counter, a chair, or even leaning into a corner of the room might help with a deep squat stretch. Keep your feet level on the ground and slightly wider apart than your hips.

Drop your hips as low as you can and breathe into the sides of your rib cage. Consider the pelvic floor opening.

Place your feet wider than your shoulders. Toes can be turned out slightly for comfort.

Lower your body by bending your knees and hips as if you were sitting in a chair. Maintain a straight back and a raised chest. Let your hips sink towards the ground, so you don’t feel like you need to hold yourself up. Maintain a neutral pelvic tilt and prevent excessive forward tilt or tucking.

In the squat posture, inhale and exhale for 10 breaths, feeling your pelvic floor muscles extending out and contacting the floor as you inhale and closing and rising as you exhale. If 10 belly breaths in this posture seem challenging for you, start with 5 repetitions at first and then increase to 10 belly breaths when you feel ready.  

 

Cat/Camel Stretch

The Cat and Camel stretch is a yoga-inspired exercise that assists in improving spine flexibility and mobility while also engaging pelvic floor muscles. The Cat and Camel stretch is performed as follows:

Begin on your hands and knees with your back in a neutral, table top position. Wrists should be under shoulders, and knees should be under hips.

Inhale as you arch your back upward, tucking your chin to your chest in Cat Pose. Consider dragging your belly button closer to your spine and curving your back like an angry cat. Hold for a few seconds, feeling the stretch throughout your back and engaging your pelvic floor muscles.

The Camel Pose: Exhale as you take the Camel stance. Arch your back in the other direction, lowering your tummy to the floor and raising your head and tailbone.

Maintain the Stretch: For a few seconds, hold the Camel stance, experiencing a mild stretch across your belly and working your pelvic floor muscles in a new way.

Repeat: Flow between the Cat and Camel postures for 10-15 reps, moving gently and synchronising your breath with your movements.

 

Butterfly Stretch

The butterfly stretch opens up the hips and extends the inner thigh muscles, which may aid increase pelvic flexibility indirectly. It's a mild workout that may be added to a larger regimen targeted at addressing pelvic health issues.

Begin by lying on your back with your legs outstretched in front of you.

Put your feet together: Bring the soles of your feet together and bend your knees, allowing your knees to extend outward.

Keep Your Feet Firm: Hold your feet together with your hands. Depending on your flexibility, you can wrap your fingers over your toes or grasp onto your ankles.

Open your knees and relax: Allow your knees to open to face the floor. Allow gravity and your breath to assist in the stretching process rather than forcing them down.

Maintain Proper Posture: Maintain a straight back and relaxed shoulders. Sit tall and contract your abdominal muscles.

 

Conclusion:

In order to address Vaginismus, your treatment should be focused on care delivered specifically for you, along with one that addresses all elements of pain (physical, emotional, and behavioural). Ideally, this means getting a holistic treatment approach with gynecologists, physiotherapists, and mental health experts.

Specific breathing methods and relaxation exercises are an important aspect of therapy because they stimulate pelvic floor relaxation and stretching. It’s important to continue to progress your stretches and incorporate strength training when you’re ready, to allow for optimal muscle function!