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Vaginismus-causes, symptoms and treatment

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Vaginismus is a condition where the vagina's muscles squeeze or spasm. This may happen when something is entering it including a tampon or a penis. It may make sexual intercourse painful and difficult and the partner may not be able to penetrate because of this condition. This is a condition that involves a muscle spasm in the pelvic floor muscle. It can make sexual intercourse painful, difficult or impossible.

Without treatment, it can result in frustration and distress and may cause other psychological issues. There are different forms of vaginismus and symptoms may vary a lot. The pain experienced can range from mild to severe and it can cause different sensations. Vaginismus may also result from emotional factors, medical factors or both. Treatments are available and they are effective in treating this problem.


If you as a woman finds sex painful, that can be a first sign of vaginismus. The pain appears only with penetration and most of the time it goes away after withdrawal but it may not be always. Different women have described the pain as it tearing sensation.

If you have vaginismus, you may also feel discomfort while inserting a tampon or during internal pelvic examination by a doctor.

The following are the most common symptoms:

  • painful intercourse along with tightness and pain
  • penetration being difficult or impossible
  • pain during tampon insertion
  • long-term sexual pain with or without a known cause
  • pain during a gynecological examination
  • Generalized muscle spasm or breaking cessation during attempted intercourse.


There may be different causes of vaginismus. It can be caused by physical stressors, emotional stressors or both. In some women, it can also be anticipatory and as a result of that it happens because the person expects it to happen.

Emotional triggers include

  • fear, for example, of pain or pregnancy
  • anxiety, about performance or because of guilt
  • relationship problems, for example, having an abusive partner or feelings of vulnerability
  • traumatic life events, including rape or a history of abuse
  • childhood experiences, such as the portrayal of sex while growing up or exposure to sexual images

Physical triggers may include

  • infection, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI) or yeast infection
  • health conditions, such as cancer or lichen sclerosis
  • childbirth
  • menopause
  • pelvic surgery
  • inadequate foreplay
  • insufficient vaginal lubrication
  • medication side effects

Treatment options

For diagnosis of vaginismus, the doctor will look at the medical history and will also carry out a pelvic examination of the patient. Treatment of this problem may involve different specialists if the need arises. It is important to rule out any possible underlying causes like an infection.

Different treatment options may include the following:

Pelvic floor control exercises-these exercises include muscle contraction and relaxation activities or Kegel exercises. The main focus is to improve control of the pelvic floor muscles.

Education and counselling-educating the patient suffering from this problem about the sexual anatomy and sexual response cycle will help hard to understand the pain and also the processes are body is going through. Counselling can be really crucial to help the patient understand why this is happening and how to be more acceptable and how to manage her mind and body.

Emotional exercises-these exercises are necessary to make the patient identify, express and resolve any emotional factors which are causing this problem.


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