an expert rundown of definition, symptoms, and treatment options

Vaginismus is the involuntary tensing or contracting of muscles around the vagina.

Vaginismus is a common yet widely under-recognised condition. It affects up to 20% of women, girls, and people assigned female at birth.

Symptoms of Vaginismus

- Discomfort or pain during vaginal penetration
- Discomfort, pain, or inability to have penetrative sex, insert a tampon, or have a pelvic exam.

Living Vaginismus has significant physical and emotional impacts, greatly affecting a person's quality of life.

Common (and harmful)
misconceptions around Vaginismus

"Vaginismus has no cure"


People with vaginismus can significantly improve their symptoms and be cured with the right treatments.

"Vaginismus is niche/not very common"


Vaginismus is VERY common
and is still shockingly underdiagnosed.

Treatment options

Treatments for this condition vary from person to person and typically lifestyle changes, pelvic floor physiotherapy, gradual desensitization and psychological support.

A multidisciplinary approach that includes both physical and mental aspects of living with this condition (biopsychosocial approach) is the most effective as it targets all areas of your health .

Pelvic floor Physiotherapy and Psychology

Physiotherapy is the gold standard approach for Vaginismus as it helps reduce pain, improve pelvic function and relax the pelvic floor, while psychological treatments can help to manage the emotional and psychological impact of the condition.

Femspace offer professionally guided self-help pelvic floor physiotherapy, psychological support and sex and relationship therapy.

In conclusion

Vaginismus is a complex and often misunderstood condition, but recognising and treating it is crucial for those who may be struggling with its symptoms. Adults with Vaginismus can benefit from a comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis, followed by a tailored treatment plan that may include medication, therapy, and lifestyle modifications.

With the right support, people with Vaginismus can reduce their symptoms/be symptom-free, and lead fulfilling lives.

Hannah Barned

Reviewed by Dr Claudia Chisari