“It's like hitting a wall,” say our patients with vaginismus. This is a condition in which the involuntary muscles of the vagina go into vaginal spasm.
That tightness prevents or limits penetration, when penetration is desired. The symptoms of a tight vagina can be so severe that even a vaginal exam is impossible.
Causes can be physical or psychological, or both. The condition can be difficult to unravel, and requires patience and skilled care.
Vaginal spasms and a resulting tight vagina may be happening as a protective measure for women who experience significant pelvic pain or disease—either now or in the past.
The spasms may be a protective measure brought about by trauma. Women with vaginismus may be survivors of rape or abuse.
And because vaginismus is common among women who force themselves to have sex when sex is painful, seek medical advice as soon as you begin to experience pain with sex. Sex should never hurt.
Vaginismus treatment is a matter of patiently retraining the body and the mind to accept vaginal penetration. It requires the right combination of physical and cognitive therapies. Use of vaginal dilators or a Kegel exercise tool can be beneficial for treating the physical part.
We strongly encourage any woman with vaginismus, along with her sex partner, to find and work with a trusted gynecologist or menopause practitioner to help design her care plan.
Learn about the actions you could take, listed at right, to address this condition or see other conditions that could affect you.