Vaginismus is the name for when the vaginal opening suddenly tightens up when you try to insert something into it e.g. a tampon, menstrual cup, or during sex . It can be painful and unsettling but the good news is that it is usually very easily resolved!
Vaginismus is the body’s automatic reaction to the fear of some or all types of vaginal penetration . Whenever penetration is attempted, the vaginal muscles tighten up on their own, the individual has no conscious control over it . An individual can develop vaginismus even if they’ve not previously had a problem with vaginal penetration .
Main symptoms: anxiety, pain.
Note: Vaginismus is not really a hormone-related symptom, but it is a condition connected to the female reproductive system, and can have an impact on health and wellbeing. It can also make it difficult to use internal menstrual management products, e.g. menstrual cups, which can have an impact on an individual’s ability to take part in sports or other social or work activities, as well as their self-esteem.
The NHS recommends that you see your GP, or go to a sexual health clinic, if;
These are all common signs of vaginismus …
You can ask to be seen by a female doctor and you can bring someone you trust along for support. Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and may ask to examine your vagina. The examination is usually very quick. Your doctor will take a quick look to rule out other conditions, like an infection.
It’s unlikely they’ll need to perform an internal examination of your vagina. If your doctor thinks you’ve got vaginismus, you may be referred to a specialist, such as a sex therapist .
Treatment usually focuses on:
|Psychosexual therapy||a type of talking therapy that aims to help an individual to understand and improve their feelings about their body|
|Relaxation techniques||mindfulness, breathing and gentle touching exercises to help to relax the vaginal muscles|
|Pelvic floor exercises||squeezing and releasing exercises to gain control of the vaginal muscles|
|Sensate focus||exercises to help with relaxation during sex|
|Vaginal trainers||smooth tampon-shaped objects in different sizes to help you gradually get used to vaginal penetration|
Treatment is initially done under the guidance of specialised therapists. You will then usually be expected to practise some the exercises at home. Treatment is usually effective and you may see progress in a matter of weeks . You can also try relaxation techniques and get to know your own body better, yourself, at home.
Page last reviewed and updated: June 2018