Vaginismus Symptoms

Vaginismus is the contraction or tightening of the pelvic floor muscles that occurs involuntarily when sexual intercourse is attempted. It can result in pain, burning, and aching. The symptoms also can occur during insertion of tampons or a speculum for a medical exam.

In particular, the symptoms of vaginismus:

  • Can occur all the time or only in certain situations
  • Can develop after a period of normal sexual function, or may occur throughout a woman's life
  • Can range from mild to severe can produce pain that may be described as searing, burning, sharp, aching, or tearing
  • Can interfere with sexual functioning even to the point at which penetration is impossible
  • Can cause a woman to feel that her vaginal opening is "too small," when this is not the case
  • Result from muscle spasm and produce real pain that is not imagined or "in your head"
  • Can arise for no apparent cause, or may result from a previous sexual trauma, anxiety, trauma during childbirth, infections, or a history of anxiety or discomfort during sex
  • Can lead to significant anxiety

Women who experience vaginismus often have a profound sense of embarrassment and may not mention the condition to their doctor. However, the condition can be treated through a variety of methods, including education, learning exercises to control the pelvic floor muscles, and vaginal dilation exercises. If a woman wishes, her partner can be involved in the treatment program as well. Success rates are high with proper treatment.

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Medically reviewed by Wayne Blocker, MD; Board Certified Obstetrics and Gynecology


MedlinePlus. Vaginismus. WebMD, Female sexual problems. Female Sexual Problems.