August 17, 2005

Biofeedback may treat vaginal spasm disorder

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Electrical biofeedback, coupled
with sexual cognitive-behavioral therapy, is effective in
treating vaginismus -- a distressing condition marked by
involuntary recurrent or persistent spasm of the muscles of the
vagina that interferes with vaginal penetration, causing
personal distress.

The findings come from a small study conducted in Korea
involving a group of women with the condition who were unable
to engage in sexual intercourse, but were able to do so after

Social, cultural, personal, psychological, and physical
causes are all relative contributors to vaginismus, study
investigators explain in the medical journal Urology. It is
unclear just how many women suffer from the disorder. One
survey of 49 gynecologists in Holland found that vaginismus
accounted for roughly 4 percent of all sexual problems or
concerns seen during a 1-week period.

Several uncontrolled studies have reported encouraging
results with various treatments for vaginismus, but little
evidence is available from controlled trials of any method.

Dr. Jue Tae Seo and colleagues from Sungkyunkwan University
School of Medicine, Seoul, evaluated the efficacy and
feasibility of functional electrical stimulation-biofeedback
with sexual cognitive-behavioral therapy for treating
vaginismus in 12 women.

All women participated in 12 sessions of biofeedback aimed
at learning pelvic floor muscle relaxation. Then, with their
husbands, they had 8 sessions of sexual cognitive-behavioral
therapy with progressive introduction of fingers or dilators
into the vagina. They refrained from attempting intercourse
until the treatment was completed.

All 12 couples completed the program, after which the women
were able to tolerate vaginal insertion of larger sized probes
and were able to achieve satisfactory vaginal intercourse, the
authors report.

"All 12 couples reported consummation of their marriage at
the end of the program," the investigators write, "and detailed
questioning suggested that full penetration and ejaculation had

Electrical stimulation-biofeedback plus
cognitive-behavioral therapy "is an effective aid for patients
with vaginismus to learn muscle control; therefore, it may
increase the success rate of treatment of vaginismus," the
researchers conclude.

SOURCE: Urology July 2005.