Sunday, 16 July 2017

Tampons and Sex. What Do They Have To Do With Each Other?

Your first menstruation is a rite of passage that can come with unexpected experiences. Some girls may experience mood changes, breast tenderness, cramping or pain. It is a time of unknowns, in terms of what is the best way to take care of yourself and what products are best to use.

It is in these early years that girls may first try using a tampon with some reservations on how to use it. Thankfully, girls now have a variety of ways to access information about the use of tampons. These include parents, friends, internet, you tubes, books, etc.

For a select group of girls, the first few attempts at using a tampon doesn’t go well. There could be one of two reasons for this. First, the young girl may get the tampon inside but is so uncomfortable she has to take it out. The second is that she tries to insert the tampon despite discomfort but, simply cannot physically get it in. This is when she may abandon the idea of using tampons.

Most young girls do not think to seek medical advice as to why tampons are a problem to use, likely due to embarrassment or not knowing this can be an early sign of pelvic floor dysfunction.

The next life event that these girls encounter a potential problem with is intercourse. In many cases these girls don’t link their discomfort with tampons to their current pain with intercourse. A majority of ladies I see, simply avoid the pain by avoided tampons and intercourse.

It is not until they get married, meet someone special or want to have children that they start to seek answers to their problem. Most often these girls start their journey by talking to their family doctors. I have noticed in the past couple years more doctors are aware of this problem and can recommend appropriate treatment but not every doctor is familiar with the following diagnoses and treatment options available.

So let’s dive into the two more common diagnoses. Just before, I wanted to explain the reason I started with tampons rather than sex is because problems with using a tampon can be a risk factor for problems with intercourse.

So let's talk diagnoses, the first possible diagnosis is called dyspareunia, which is recurrent or persistent discomfort with attempts at or during intercourse/penetration. There are 2 subcategories of dyspareunia.
a)      Primary: meaning this pain/discomfort is present at the first attempt at penetration/intercourse
b)      Secondary: pain with intercourse/penetration develops after a trauma, such as tearing from childbirth or surgery.

The second diagnosis is called vaginismus. This is a term used by Dr. Marion Sims in 1862 to describe a reflex-like contraction of the muscles around the vagina and perineum. Simply put, penetration/intercourse is not possible because the muscles around the entrance of the vagina spasm, closing the opening. Partners will often note, “It’s like hitting a wall.”

Either of these two situations can be very concerning for a young woman. Often times these women think there is something wrong with them and that somehow this is their fault. This simply is not true. There are many different reasons this can happen.

Finding a physician who is familiar with dyspareunia and vaginismus is helpful to rule out other causes for the pain/discomfort but also important in making sure you are given the right diagnosis. This article is not intended to diagnose you but to give you awareness of possibilities so that you can have a more informed discussion with your healthcare provider.

Finding a pelvic health physiotherapist is an important addition to your recovery. They will help you understand your condition and will provide treatment/resources to put you on the path of a fulfilling sex life.

Having a sex therapist/sexologist can also be very helpful on this healing journey. It is usually a multidisciplinary approach to make sure the physical and mental/emotional aspects are addressed.

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Thanks for reading,
The Pelvic Health Lady

Reference: Lamont, J. 2011. Dyspareunia and Vaginismus. Glob.libr.women’s med. www.glowm.com, accessed on July 3, 2017.

3 comments:

  1. I would have never considered any of these if I didn’t come across this. Thanks!.
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