Vaginismus: Things You Should Know

By Modupeoluwa Adekanye 

20 February 2020.

Vaginismus is a condition involving a muscle spasm in the pelvic floor muscles for women. It can make it painful, difficult, or impossible to have sexual intercourse, undergo a gynaecological exam, and to insert a tampon.

Without treatment, it can lead to frustration and distress, and it may get worse. However, treatment is possible. This condition can stem from psychological issues, emotional factor or medical factors.

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There are different types of Vaginismus and the symptoms differ. Pains differ from and can range from mild to severe.

In vaginismus, vaginal muscles tighten involuntarily despite women’s desire for sexual intercourse. Vaginismus usually begins when women first attempt to have sexual intercourse. However, it sometimes develops later, for example, when women attempt intercourse while they are emotionally distressed.

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The different types of Vaginismus include:


Primary vaginismus

For this condition, the pain has always been present. It will be difficult to use a tampon and to undergo a gynaecological exam. It is often experienced by women during their first attempt at intercourse. The male partner is unable to insert his penis into the vagina. He may describe a sensation like “hitting a wall” at the vaginal opening.

There may be pain, generalized muscle spasms, and the woman may temporarily stop breathing.


Secondary vaginismus

This occurs when the pain starts after sexual intercourse. It has not always been present. It can occur at any stage of life, and it may not have happened before. It usually stems from a specific event, such as an infection, menopause, a traumatic event, development of a medical condition, relationship issues, surgery, or childbirth.


Even after any underlying medical condition is corrected, pain can continue if the body has become conditioned to respond in this way.


Situational vaginismus

This occurs when pain is only experienced during certain situations. An example of this is being able to have normal sexual intercourse but experiences pain when inserting a tampon.

Furthermore, vaginismus can be caused by emotional factors and physical factors which include: fear of pregnancy, an abusive sexual relationship, feeling of vulnerability, emotional and mental trauma from a past abuse, harassment, or rape, infections like yeast infection or UTI, underlying disease or condition such as lichen sclerosis or cancer, childbirth, menopause, previous pelvic surgery and so on.

There are treatments for this condition and it includes sexual counselling and education, emotional therapy, pelvic floor exercises, dilation and insertion training and much more.

Always discuss with your doctor to know what treatment works for you.

The medical information provided in this article is provided as an information resource only. This information does not create any patient-physician relationship and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

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