Chantelle Otten

Case Studies


Painful sex after childbirth | Vaginismus

Have you had a traumatic birth? Jacinta did. After giving birth to twins, she experienced extreme pain, which developed a psychological component of pain anticipation. It was apparent that Jacinta was suffering from a condition called Vaginismus, which is quite common for women, yet very difficult to diagnose. Vaginismus comes as a surprise.

There are feelings of unexplained tightness, discomfort, pain, and entry problems, which occur unexpectedly during intercourse attempts. For some women, the condition occurs from the first time they have sex, for others it can occur later in life after having had years of pain-free intercourse. Can be triggered by pelvic pain, lack of lubrication or arousal, or medical conditions, traumatic events, relationship issues, surgery, life-changes (e.g. menopause), or for no apparent reason. In Jacinta’s case, it was triggered by a traumatic childbirth.

The pain occurs when the muscles around the vagina (PC muscles) tighten involuntarily. Since this occurs unintentionally, it can be very confusing, but important to note that it is not the woman’s fault. This can be compared to automatically blinking when an object is coming toward our eye — it just happens. The spasms cause burning or pain upon penetration or movement and may even completely block entry. Some describe it as ‘razor blade’ sensations.

For Jacinta, the severity of her vaginismus made penetration no longer possible. She had started to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist and was recommended to seek sexual therapy for the psychosocial aspects.


Chantelle helped Jacinta and her husband understand the phobias and physical responses to intimacy, touch and sexual stimuli. During counselling sessions Chantelle was able to teach Jacinta some relaxation skills, in addition to developing meaning around her fears, with a list of what she found to be the most distressing.

Jacinta was scared that she would not be able to relax in the bedroom; she shied away from intimate touches from her husband, and was concerned that if they had sexual activity she would relapse. She also had a lot of grief around her childbirth that needed to be explored. Slowly, in combination with couples counselling, Jacinta and her husband we able to start having intimate touch again, without the fear that she would have to have penetration.

After experiencing success with intimate touch and sexual activities, Jacinta was able to slowly transition from her vaginal dilators to the gradual introduction of the penis. Both herself and her husband also had the opportunity to bond over this experience.


Jacinta and her husband have a successful and fun sex life and are more capable of communicating their feelings and needs inside and out of the bedroom. Jacinta is considering having more children when her twins grow up, and she touches base to inform progress and how she is going. Her vaginismus is now gone.


I came to see Chantelle because, I developed vaginismus after giving birth to my twins. I was experiencing trouble having sex with my husband for over a year and a half. This was having a big impact on our marriage as well. I found the experience very helpful; I did a couple of sessions by myself, and some with hubby.

I would highly recommend Chantelle because of her kind, warm and friendly personality. Chantelle is very easy to talk to.  Chantelle helped me be able to have sex with my husband again and I’m so grateful for everything she did for my marriage and myself.