Vaginismus is an uncontrollable and painful spasm of the muscles that surround the vagina. It happens when something is about to be put into the vagina, like a tampon, penis, or medical device.
|Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.|
Vaginismus is often a response to past sexual trauma or other painful events. In some women, the cause is not clear.
Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
- History of sexual trauma
- History of painful events, such as infection, surgery, or childbirth
- Fear or lack of interest in sex
- Painful first intercourse
- Relationship problems
The main problem is not being able to have sex without pain. Some women may also have pain during pelvic exams or when inserting a tampon.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical and pelvic exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.
The cause will need to be treated. The goal is to ease spasms. Choices are:
- Learning about sex organs and how they work
- Mental health counseling to learn how to challenge negative thoughts
- Vaginal dilation exercises that use a woman's fingers or plastic dilators to stretch the vagina
- Kegel exercises to improve control over the vaginal muscles
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists http://www.acog.org
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org
Sex Information and Education Council of Canada http://www.sieccan.org
Sexuality and U—The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada http://www.sexualityandu.ca
Crowley T, Goldmeier D, et al. Diagnosing and managing vaginismus. BMJ. 2009 Jun 18;338:b2284, commentary can be found in BMJ 2009 Aug 11;339:b3267.
Female sexual dysfunction. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/female-sexual-dysfunction. Accessed February 23, 2021.
Vaginismus. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15723-vaginismus. Accessed February 23, 2021.
Vaginismus. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gynecology-and-obstetrics/sexual-dysfunction-in-women/vaginismus?query=Vaginismus. Accessed February 23, 2021.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG
- Review Date: 12/2020
- Update Date: 02/23/2021