For some women, the vaginal muscles involuntarily or persistently contract when they attempt vaginal penetration. This is called vaginismus. The contractions can prevent sexual intercourse or make it very painful. Vaginismus does not interfere with sexual arousal, but it can prevent penetration.

Pain can occur when:

  • The partner attempts penetration
  • A woman inserts a tampon
  • A woman is touched near the vaginal area

A gentle pelvic exam typically shows no cause of the contractions, and no physical abnormalities typically contribute to the condition. 

Vaginismus is classified into two types:

  1. Primary Vaginismus - When vaginal penetration has never been achieved
  2. Secondary Vaginismus - When vaginal penetration was once achieved, but is no longer possible, potentially due to factors such as gynecologic surgery, trauma, or radiation

Some women develop vaginismus after menopause. When estrogen levels drop, a lack of vaginal lubrication and elasticity makes intercourse painful, stressful, or impossible. This can lead to vaginismus in some women. 

symptoms of vaginismus

Involuntary tightening of the vaginal muscles is the primary symptom of vaginismus, but the severity of the condition varies among women. In all cases, constriction of the vagina makes penetration difficult or impossible. If you have vaginismus, you cannot control or stop the contractions of your vaginal muscles. 

If you are having pain with intercourse consult your WISH clinician today. 

*This information does not replace a provider consultation. You should schedule an appointment with your provider if you experience any of these symptoms.

*Information provided by Healthline