People who experience any of the pain disorders often believe that they have to live with the problem. As a result, they do not seek help. However, medical evaluations and counseling can help isolate possible causes and solutions. Women who are experiencing vaginismus should consult with a physician and bring their partner as well. A physical examination will check for any physical problems that may be contributing to the pain.
After the diagnosis is confirmed, one of the most effective treatments is the use of dilators. After a physician instructs a woman to use these dilators, they can be used at home and inserted by the woman or her partner. The size of the dilators is slowly increased, and they can even be left in place overnight if necessary. These dilators help to open and relax the vaginal muscles. If these procedures are successful, penile or digital penetration can be attempted. In some cases, however, it may be necessary to use a dilator on a regular basis just prior to penetration. It is estimated that between 75% and 100% of women who use this technique are able to experience sexual intercourse by the end of treatment (Heiman, 2002).
It is also helpful for couples to become educated about vaginismus and sexuality to reduce their anxiety or tension. If a history of sexual abuse or rape exists, it is important to work through the trauma prior to beginning work with the dilators, or treatment for vaginismus may be unsuccessful.