For some women, despite getting very aroused and full of desire for sex, they are just not able to have penetration into their vagina. For other women, attempts at sex result in pain, anxiety, and what seems to be a closing off of their vagina. Some find that they can have some types of penetration (finger, tampon, etc.), but are unable to have penetration from their partner or have an ObGyn speculum exam. The inability to allow penetration in all of these cases is called vaginismus.
The actual definition of vaginismus from the Diagnositc & Statistical Manual IV-TR is “involuntary contraction of the musculature of the outer third of the vagina interfering with intercourse, causing distress and interpersonal difficulty.” Because of considerable confusion and criticism, this definition is in the process of being revised. The current definition does not address the fact that there may be anatomical abnormalities preventing penetration, or that there have been varying degrees of muscle contraction found.
Since they are often experienced together, vaginismus is often lumped together with dyspareunia (sexual pain) but actually only refers to the specific contraction or spasm that prevents penetration. Since attempts at penetration with vaginismus usually results in pain, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to separate the two in most cases. But technically they are two different issues and one can exist without the other.
The causes of vaginismus can be physical (infections, abnormalities with the hymen, vaginal atrophy, endometriosis, increased tone of pelvic floor muscles, vaginal lesions, vestibular pain) or psychological (fear of pregnancy, anxiety about sexual anatomy, fear of pain or bleeding, misunderstanding of the sex act, etc.). Every woman having difficulty with penetration should have a complete exam by a gynecologist to rule out and/or treat any physical causes. What is almost universal in women with vaginismus is the creation of a vicious cycle that goes from difficulty with penetration with or without pain, to negative thoughts about it, to increased anxiety or fear, to avoidance and hypervigilance, to guarding and muscle contraction. This cycle continues to reinforce itself and becomes increasingly distressing for the individual and the couple.
Because this vicious negative cycle complicates treatment and reinforces fear, the sooner that a woman receives treatment for vaginismus, the better. Treatment addresses both the physical and psychological contributors to difficulty with penetration. First, proper education about anatomy and the act of sex helps eliminate misunderstandings and gives a woman a greater sense of control. Working with a sex therapist to address the anxieties of penetration serve to help break the negative cycle. Although women who have experienced sexual abuse in their past do not have a significantly higher rate of vaginismus, these women should work carefully and progressively with a therapist.
Dilators are almost always used as part of the treatment for vaginismus. Progressively wider and larger dilators are used by a woman at home to provide physical stretching of the entrance of the vagina. In using dilators, women also become increasingly comfortable with the sensation of penetration. This helps decrease anxiety, reassuring a woman that she can experience penetration under her control and without pain. Therapists work not only with the individual, but also with the couple so that the partner can gain understanding of the condition and be helpful once penetration is to be attempted.
If you have a holistic view of health, you can see how vaginismus is one way that a woman’s body communicates to her that something related to her sexuality needs attention, either physically, psychologically or both. Therapy that addresses specific fears and anxieties related to vaginismus is the most successful. If your body is not letting you have sex due to vaginismus, don’t delay in seeking treatment. There are many online sources as well, one of the most comprehensive being Vaginismus.com
If you have it, then your body is NOT designed for sex.
It is God’s way of telling a woman that she is DESTINED to become a nun or celibate.
So if you have it, go on and BECOME A NUN.
Or be CELIBATE.
That’s because it is God’s way of controlling the global population. God created women with such sexual dysfunction to keep them away from sex and thus preventing conception. Unfortunately, most women don’t realize it and would still go through days and weeks of therapy which is just time consuming.
Trying to remedy your condition is against God’s will.
God does NOT want you to have sex.
If you’re a woman, don’t get married & don’t have sex if your VAGINA wont let you.
God had CLOSED the gates of your virginity.
FACE IT! You have a NUN’S VAGINA.
It is time to give up on men and become a NUN.
VAGINISMUS may be the answer to overpopulation.
God truly works in strange ways.
@Maypaki Wow! You even used CAPITAL LETTERS. I think that you have completely missed the point of this blog, my work, sexual dysfunction, and God’s plan for us.
First, it is very closed-minded to state that women with vaginismus should do nothing about their condition (which is very often only a result of anxiety) and become nuns. Vaginismus is one of the most easily treated sexual dysfunctions, allowing women to have satisfying sexual relationships regardless of whether they have children or not. It does not mean that a woman’s body is not built for sex. It also has no relationship to religious calling. Women do not decide (nor should they) to become nuns because they have vaginismus, but instead because they feel a personal and specific calling to dedicate their lives to performing this very important work. The two are mutually exclusive.
It seems to me that your position is a very arrogant one that you believe to know what God’s plan is and interpret vaginismus as a specific design for celibacy and solution to overpopulation. Perhaps, vaginismus in a woman’s life is like the numerous other challenges that we face in our lives without understanding why they are happening. They may be a lesson to be learned or obstacle to be overcome, giving us a better understanding of ourselves, and strengthening our connection with our maker. I think that you should go back to your religion and your priest and have a very serious conversation about the role of change and growth in life.
Um… by your reasons Maypaki, no one should go to a doctor for any type of treatment ever. Have you ever had a cold, flu? Broken a bone? Did you go to a doctor for it? If you did you were obviously going against GODS WILL. Plus what would the male version of this be then? GOD needs someone to be priests too, so what happens to men where they cannot physically have sex?
A woman with Primary Vaginismus don’t deserve to be touched by any man.
God’s birth control comes in two forms:
2.) Having a Thick Hymen
There are two types of Vaginismus:
1. Primary vaginismus – oops, she has a nun’s vagina. Violating a nun’s vagina is immoral.
2. Secondary vaginismus – happens usually after giving birth or menopause. It means God doesn’t want you to make MORE kids. A natural birth control.
Vaginismus is the most unique of all forms of medical disorders. It can NOT kill a person. It does not damage or impair her other physical activities such as walking, talking, running, thinking, remembering, sleeping, etc. It is not a cancer, virus or infection. A woman can still live a normal life while remaining a virgin. Sex is NOT a necessity.
Sex is just a CHOICE.
FYI: Cancer, Colds, Flu and Fever are often preventable.
However, Vaginismus may INDIRECTLY kill a woman because of her frustration due to lack of sex, leading her to commit SUICIDE. If she does not let her condition ruin her happiness, then things will be just fine. She can just find her happiness elsewhere (her clitoris).
Women with Primary Vaginismus can still enjoy intercourse but ONLY IN THEIR DREAMS. In reality, they just can’t because it is too damn painful for them. They masturbate by just rubbing their clitoris but they always avoid vaginal insertion. Because they’re scared of their own fingers (or anything).
FYI: Sex is a desire, a craving and a WANT. It is not a chore to please another. It is an expression of mutual affection.
I am a man who believes in WOMEN’S RIGHTS. If a woman has a right to say NO to sex, then so does her VAGINA. She should respect her VAGINAL RIGHTS. They are:
1.) Vagina’s right to refuse sex.
2.) Vagina’s right to self-pleasure
3.) Vagina’s right to self-lubricate.
If a woman has Primary Vaginismus, it means her VAGINA is refusing sex. It’s God’s form of BIRTH CONTROL. Vaginismus is God’s way of saying that a women are NOT baby factories.
Most humans are genetically designed to learn how to masturbate. Masturbation teaches them to be sexually self-aware. But some, particularly women, have limited or no masturbation skills and end up having Vaginismus or Thick Hymen. Because God forbids them to learn about sex to control the population. Some women do not own their bodies because God owns them.
One probable cause of Primary Vaginismus (other than sexual abuse)is a woman’s ignorance of her own sexuality.
There are some girls who didn’t know they had a clitoris until they become teenagers. There are those who masturbate later in life (age 15-26), but orgasm much LATER. Hence they are DUMB about their own bodies. But other girls are DUMBER than that.
It is therefore reasonable to say that if a woman is DUMB about her own sex organ, then God can intervene and manipulate her vagina for the purpose of birth control.
She can still be impregnated even if it violates God’s will. We’re free to obey or disobey. It’s called FREE WILL. She may be tempted by her imaginary and deceitful “BIOLOGICAL CLOCK”, like a snake in the Garden of Eden. Instead of infertility, God inflicts PAIN to test her obedience.
Hymen Reconstruction Surgery is WRONG. But God allowed it to happen.
Female Circumcision is WRONG. But God allowed it to happen.
…well….the same thing can be said about trying to cure Vaginismus.
We are free to do what is right and what is wrong.
I disagree with you on almost all accounts. Your use of the word “deserve” when you say that a woman does not deserve to be touched if she has vaginismus is either contextually incorrect, or a gross devaluation of women. “God’s birth control” as you call it, is by the timing of ovulation lasting so little time within a monthly cycle. For a man who purports to be for women’s rights, you have an extremely short-sighted and rigid view of vaginismus and you are completely ignoring both the fact that many women with vaginismus would like to change the situation as well as the fact that it is very treatable. Both of those ignore a woman’s right to correct the situation. Again, you are very arrogant to purport to know what God wants and what God’s plan is. If a woman is born with six fingers on one hand, I do not say that she is destined to become a typist or a pianist. We are here to promote knowledge and factual information about sex and sexuality and combat ignorance like yours.
I have this but I never had it until about a year ago. It can’t be so I can’t have a baby because I had to have a hysterectomy 7 years ago.bit can’t be because I don’t know how to masterbate mbecause I do. I am in my 50 s with one grown child,so why would God all of a sudden decide I need to be a nun. I’m not even religious ,I don’t go to church and I don’t deserve to be in this pain. You sir are crazy.
God probably has nothing to do with it. If a woman has her ovaries removed during a hysterectomy, she will eventually develop considerable pain with attempts to penetrate because of the lack of estrogen. That is not the same thing as vaginismus. Perhaps you could ask your gynecologist to examine you and determine what’s happening?
Myself (26) and my fiancee (24) both have oral herpes which I passed on to her due to having a cold sore which I didn’t even know caused it. We were diagnosed with it last May when we both had an outbreak each. We didn’t know what was happening, we thought she had UTI and I’d torn the skin on my penis, so we left it for nearly two weeks. She was in excruciating pain and after we went to the sexual health clinic they told us what it was. They said she had one of the worst outbreaks they’d ever seen and it may never heal properly.
We’ve been able to have sex since then, she said it was painful back then, but she powered through it for my sake, despite me saying we’ll stop if it hurts. She had a second outbreak in early December last year, but we had sex on Christmas Eve and just before the new year, I’m not sure if it hurt her then because during the time at Christmas she wanted to do it again, but we couldn’t because I didn’t have any more condoms.
Now it’s even worse, I can’t even use my pinky to touch it without her being in pain. And she won’t do anything to help me out because it turns her on and makes her want it. It’s really frustrating for both of us. The problem is when she says she we can try and then changes her mind, when I’m already worked up at that point and she won’t do anything to help me out. She says she feels guilty because I can’t have it, but I just feel like if that was true, she’d help me in other ways. I don’t want to push her into doing stuff, but I don’t want the problem to destroy us. I love her to pieces, but because we had a really big argument about it she thinks that I’m only with her for sex.
She’s read horror stories of girls having really bad cases of herpes and now they’ve got really bad tissue scarring on the inside of their vaginas. I believe her when she says it hurts, but is it possible she’s got vaginismus? I’ve been doing some reading up on it and I don’t really know what to make of it. I’d like her to go to the doctors so we can rule it out, but I’m scared that if she does go and the doctor does touch her to inspect her, she’s gonna start screaming in pain. I don’t want her to be in pain, but I don’t want to feel like I’m being punished for it. She already said she blames me for it and that she resents me.
I’m struggling to wrap my head around it all.
I should mention that she was sexually abused by a past boyfriend and I wonder if that abuse coupled with the pain of the herpes has caused her to get vaginismus. I don’t think it’s psychological, I believe her when she says she’s in pain, but I wonder if her brain is telling her vagina that it will hurt, which causes it to actually hurt.
Can you help me out at all here, do you have any advice for me?
It sounds like the immune system is not able to put this virus into the latent stage. Because of this, the focus needs to be on supporting the immune system and pushing the virus back into its dormant stage. Antiviral, like Valtrex, may be important for both of you. Adequate levels of selenium (200mcg twice a day) as well as adequate levels of Vitamin A (depends on your genetics, but at least 15,000 IU daily) along with Vit D and Vit K-MK7 which are vital for the immune system. Everyone should have their Vitamin D levels checked by blood tests and have a goal of 60-80 ng/mL. Lysine is an important amino acid that helps control viral outbreaks. Typically, a person may take Lysine 500mg twice a day as an ongoing supplement.
Controlling it is first and foremost because once there is a good amount of pain, the brain will learn to avoid sexual contact because it has associated it with pain.
(Maypaki is a troll. Do not feed trolls. I caught the word “God” glancing down the page and didn’t even read those comments. Focus on positive, not trying to reason with people who don’t get it, that’s a waste of energy.)
Your post was very informative and helpful. I hope it comes up high on the search engines when people type in “vaginismus”
This is like the female version of erectile dysfunction, right? In that it can be caused by physical or mental issues, or a combination of both.
There is always hope and ways to work around challenges. So many people suffer needlessly due to shame, so it’s good to speak openly about these things. Overcoming shame is key to solving the problem.
He is a troll.
Reading upon this after having ohysical and emotional issues from having just to tying to Dtd with my boyfriend and reading that dickheads comment did not help me in such an emotional state.. What a load of shit once I read it again.. Can I say I’ve been able to have great sex many times though have this ongoing problem and fears with many forms of penetration.. But screw you maypaki and your God since if it enforces all those terrible things you said!
Like ‘The Beautiful Kind’ above, I glanced at the word “God” and barely read the views of Maypaki. Clearly a troll who feels threatened by any advice which is sexually liberating to women.
I wonder if Maypaki would argue that men who have erectile dysfunction should live a life of celibacy? At least then, I suppose, his bigotry would be applied equally to both sexes. I suspect though, that he starts from the unfathomable position of hating women and then forms his ideology around that hatred.
Madeleine your article is informative and helps tackle ignorance/fears around these kinds of issues. I applaud you.
I don’t know whose God that is, but it is not mine. If this was really God’s plan for celibacy, there would not be any available treatment. Unless God is fallible.
OMG, we’re revisiting the Problem of Evil, in the vagina. I never would have imagined it would happen, but there it is!
Maypaki’s response just made me burst out in tears, you have no idea what you are talking about, and I believe that one day i will overcome vaginismus, and i WILL have sex with my boyfriend of 2 years 🙂
P.S. I DO DESERVE IT!
@Mychelle – Don’t pay attention to comments like his. I left it up to demonstrate how erroneous people can be about sex and sexual issues. This is precisely why I post this information – so that people can get real, honest, and helpful information. Don’t be discouraged. Vaginismus is one of the easiest sexual difficulties to treat. Are you working with a therapist? I wish you the best.
i recently found out that i have Vaginismus. i always have pain during trips to the gyno, or trying to have intercorse. i dread going to my gyno, but last week when i went she informed me that i have Vaginismun and i will be starting treatment for it, and hopefully get through it. i do need advise on how to tell my significant other about it, i am hesitant to tell him that i dont want to have intercourse until i finish treatment. HELP!!!!!
You should not feel pressured into having intercourse – EVER. What I would suggest for anyone getting treatment for vaginismus is to make sure that you are treating both the physical aspects and the emotional aspects at the same time. While you are working with your gynecologist and probably doing dilator therapy, please be sure to be working with a sex therapist as well to address the emotional/anxiety aspects of it. This way, you will be much more comfortable all the way around when you do decide that it is time to have intercourse. I wish you the best.
hey i ve been married for almost a year now…and havent had sex with my husband till now…v have tried it a couple of times but failed miserably…either he list his erection or i was scared about tge penetration…we gave talked about this and thought that we would get over it eventually….but its been a year and no sex till now….i dont understand wat the problem is….am i having vaginismus? i am worried.pls help me
I can’t tell you exactly what’s going on, but vaginismus may be a possibility. You should see your gynecologist and get checked out.