What is Vaginismus?

Vaginismus is persistent or recurrent difficulties of the woman to allow vaginal entry of the penis, finger, or any object (tampon, etc), despite her expressed wish to do so. It is characterized by the involuntary contraction of the muscles around the vaginal opening. Sexual intercourse becomes extremely painful or even impossible due to the muscular contraction even though women with vaginismus do become emotionally/mentally and physically aroused.


What causes vaginismus?

Increased tone (spasm) of the muscles that surround the entrance of the vagina does exist and is a common cause of dyspareunia (sexual pain.) As with many sexual dysfunction concerns, some women develop vaginismus as the result of a variety of physiological and psychological factors and some women are unable to identify any cause at all. It is likely that the majority of women who are diagnosed with vaginismus do not have a spasm of these muscles but have vestibulodynia (vulvar vestibulitis syndrome) As most providers are not trained in the diagnosis and causes of vestibulodynia, it is very likely that they are attributing pain upon penetration to vaginismus instead of the other causes of vestibulodynia (too many nerve ending, hormonal causes, etc.)


Common Psychological Causes of Vaginismus:

  • Fear of pain
  • Fear of getting pregnant
  • Past sexual abuse, rape, incest or sexual trauma
  • Fear of rejection by partner
  • Body image issues
  • Relationship issues
  • Stress or anxiety issues
  • Depression
  • Guilt about sex and/or sexual pleasure
  • Religious or cultural beliefs about sex and/or sexual pleasure

Common Physiological Causes of Vaginismus:

  • Side effect of prescription medication or drugs
  • Inadequate foreplay
  • Inadequate lubrication due to lowered estrogen-levels
  • Injuries to the pelvis or pelvic area
  • Sexual assault including rape, incest or sexual trauma
  • Child-birth
  • Illnesses including cancer, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease and more


At the SHOW Center your provider will delve into the root cause of the FOD, which can be a combination of bio-psych-social issues. The SHOW Center will help you with a treatment pathway that may be multifocal and personally tailored to your unique needs. A specialist, in sexual pain disorders, should evaluate any women with pain upon penetration so that they are not incorrectly labeled as having vaginismus.