Last updated:

November 4, 2022


 min read

Vaginismus: Everything you need to know

Vaginismus is characterized by vaginal pain or a burning sensation during any type of insertion or penetration, making penetrative sex or gynaecological examinations extremely difficult and painful. Read on to learn more about its causes, symptoms, and possible treatment options.

Reviewed by
Written by
Paridhi Gupta

What Is Vaginismus?

Vaginismus is a sexual condition in which the muscles of the vagina spasm or squeeze involuntarily, making any sort of insertion or penetration painful. Since the vagina itself is a wall of muscles, this type of spasming makes it difficult to use tampons, menstrual cups, or have penetrative sex. 

Choosing to have or not to have penetrative sex is completely up to you, but vaginismus often makes it impossible. This can really strain your sex life, and even pose a difficulty in pelvic check-ups. It’s important to keep in mind that the pain and discomfort experienced in vaginismus are due to the involuntary movements of the vaginal walls, and not due to other factors such as lack of adequate arousal or lubrication.

Unlike various other sexual problems, vaginismus is very often psychological in nature. It can be caused due to a number of factors, such as past sexual trauma, body image issues, anxiety, or an intense fear of vaginal penetration. The pain you experience can range from mildly uncomfortable to intense, making it necessary to seek timely vaginismus treatment. 

How To Know If You Have Vaginismus

Symptoms of vaginismus usually involve:

  • Difficulty in vaginal penetration
  • Painful sex
  • Experiencing pain in vagina while inserting fingers, tampons, or menstrual cups.
  • Fear of penetrative sex

What Causes Vaginismus?

It is difficult to point out a single cause. However, sexual anxiety and fear seem to play a big role. It is difficult to say whether the pain is due to anxiety, or the anxiety is a result of painful experiences. Past sexual trauma is often a major indicator of vaginismus. This is why therapy is very often suggested as a part of vaginismus treatment in order to understand the root cause.

For some people with vaginas, it may even be situational. They may experience symptoms of vaginismus in one setting but not in the other. For instance, there may be pain and discomfort with penetrative sex but not while inserting menstrual products or during pelvic examinations. Sometimes, the symptoms may show up around one partner but not the other.

Types of Vaginismus

  1. Primary Vaginismus

Also known as life-long vaginismus, a diagnosis of primary vaginismus is given when insertion or penetration has never been possible, and has led to pain and difficulty every time. It can be diagnosed quite early if the insertion of tampons or even a finger proves to be painful.

  1. Secondary Vaginismus

Since vaginismus is most commonly due to psychological reasons and not physical, it can often occur later in life due to traumatic sexual experiences or any event that may have led to a fear of sex or body image issues. In this case of secondary or acquired vaginismus, women who had no history of vaginismus may find themselves unable to have penetrative sex, or experience pain during any vaginal insertion.

Is Vaginismus Curable?

Vaginismus can definitely be improved over a period of time. This is done through a combination of psychotherapy, medications, and pelvic floor exercises such as Kegels. 

Sex therapy that is focused on reducing the fear surrounding penetration can be a great idea when combined with relaxation techniques such as mindfulness and meditation. This can help you overcome past patterns that may be causing the experience of pain during insertion, and also learn how to be more present in the moment and really focus on relaxing your muscles.

Dilators are often suggested by doctors to gradually help in relaxing the vaginal muscles. Dilators can help you in getting used to the sensation of penetration at your own pace until you feel fully comfortable and there’s no pain during insertion.

It’s also a good idea to make things as comfortable for yourself as possible, such as by liberally using lubricants and not rushing into penetration.

Need Help?

If you think you may be experiencing any of the symptoms of vaginismus, we understand that looking for help can be scary. There is always judgment surrounding the female body, and not being able to comfortably have penetrative sex, especially if you’re trying to conceive, or relax while inserting tampons or menstrual cups into the vagina can cause a lot of frustration and stress. 

We’re here to make things easy for you. You can find judgement-free vaginismus treatment online through Rocket Health consultations. Our team of experienced gynaecologists and therapists is here to help you every step of the way.