HSP and its Connection to Vaginismus

“HSPs are that 15 to 20 percent of the human population born with a nervous system genetically designed to be more sensitive to subtleties, more prone to deep reflection on inner experience, and therefore inevitably more easily overwhelmed by outer events.”

The Highly Sensitive Person in Love by Elaine N. Aron

I had made a post last year about HSP (Highly Sensitive Person). If you don’t know what HSP is, then click the link to find out more before you continue reading.

When writing my book, the women I spoke to all had the same type of personality traits as me. These traits included, but were not limited to, constantly feeling overstimulated, being super aware of small changes and essentially being more tuned-in into their emotions.

I began to notice a trend. Even in forums, through email conversations and meeting women in person that all suffered from vaginismus, I noticed that we all had very similar characteristics. Things affected us more deeply, pain was felt deeper and it was harder to let go of things that other people could easily let go of.

Does being an HSP and having vaginismus correlate?

Individuals with HSP have a highly sensitive nervous system and feel emotional and physical pain differently than others. Touch and other forms of intimacy feel ten times more powerful to us. Most of these individuals have a hard time with any form of intimacy, including hugging, because it feels like the other person is invading your personal space. This physical over-stimulation can cause some individuals to feel anxious or even trapped. Their bodies may then equate this feeling to danger.

My sister and I grew up in the same environment. We both went to Catholic school where they told us that sex was bad and dirty, we both lived in a household where emotions weren’t expressed, and we never saw our parents hug or kiss. However, these things did not affect her later on in life, but I took them in very deeply as I was growing up and they greatly impacted my future. It was like I soaked up everything around me, and those words and images rooted inside of me to my very core.

Intimacy seems foreign to me, sex was difficult for me to understand because I was always told it was wrong, and I never expressed my emotions so they just sat inside of me and festered until it would all become too much to handle.

So, how does this relate to vaginismus?

“HSPs often reported that their genitals can be touched in ways that are too painful or intense, even when sexually aroused.”

The Highly Sensitive Person in Love by Elaine N. Aron

Women who suffer from vaginismus suffer from physical or non-physical triggers. A physical trigger would be an accident or sexual abuse and a non-physical trigger would be being brought up in a strict religious home and even emotional abuse.

If you are an HSP, the influence of these triggers on your personal self would be amplified. You would have these things happen to you and hold onto them, making it difficult to let go. You would hold onto these events that occurred in your life and have a hard time putting them behind you. Even if you don’t think about them anymore, or even if you feel like they don’t affect you, for some reason these phantoms still haunt you.

Living in an environment where you are unable to express yourself or having no idea why you are feeling a certain way, being told that natural actions are immoral, and/or being taken advantage of is a dangerous concoction for those who are highly sensitive. Taking things in deeply, holding onto them tighter than others and having a highly sensitive nervous system is a recipe for disaster. It would make sense that if a highly sensitive person was brought up in the perfect conditions that could lead them to find sex wrong, painful or untrustworthy that they would contract vaginismus.

The psychological pain that you are unknowingly holding onto from your past would ultimately cause you to feel physical pain with sex. Because of your highly sensitive nerve endings, the pain would be ten times worse to you than others, sending signals to your brain that something isn’t right and that your body must protect you. It builds up an invisible wall around your vagina, making penetration nearly impossible. If penetration does occur, the pain is excruciating.

Because your body mentally and physically holds onto things tighter than others, the cycle of pain would be harder for you to overcome.

So what can you do if you are an HSP and have vaginismus?

The best thing that you can do is to attend therapy sessions to understand the root cause of your triggers and to go to physical therapy to help your body understand that sex is not bad and that it does not need to shut down to protect you from it.

Even though I have mostly figured out the root cause of my triggers, I’m still trying to understand how it’s still affecting me and how I can work to fix that. It’s a process, and can sometimes be a long one because we HSP’s tend to hold onto things more strongly than others, but you’ll get there.

Learning more about your HSP nature is important, but so is not giving up.

If you are interesting in learning more about the Highly Sensitive Person, check out these two books:

The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive when the World Overwhelms You by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D. and The Highly Sensitive Person in Love: Understanding and Managing Relationships When the World Overwhelms You by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D.