Vaginismus: Causes

Content Written By: Andrew T. Goldstein, MD

Traditionally, “Vaginismus” has been felt to be the result of fear of pain or a phobia about sex. It has often attributed to difficulties with upbringing and attributed to discomfort with sexuality in general. Sexual abuse was often implicated as the cause of the vaginismus. However, it is the opinion of this author and such noted sexual medicine researchers such as Dr. Irv Binik of McGill University that there is no empiric evidence that vaginismus (as defined above) exist.

Certainly, increased tone (spasm) of the muscles that surround the entrance of the vagina (the pubococcygeus and transverse perinea muscles) does exist and is a common cause of dyspareunia (sexual pain.) (We refer to this condition at “hypertonic pelvic floor muscle dysfunction. ”) However, there is no evidence that these spasm occur only “when there is a threat” of penetration and that the muscles are relaxed at other times. Lastly, there is no evidence that hypertonic pelvic floor muscles are cause by of psychological reasons or a history of sexual abuse.

Lastly, it is very 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 physicians 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)

Find a Doctor

Enter your city, state or zipcode and find the nearest doctor in your area

diagnostic tool teaser

Share your Story

shareDo you have a personal health story that you would like to share with others? Many people, especially when newly diagnosed, find comfort in knowing that others are having a similar experience. Our story areas are a place to share experiences about living with and treating sexual health issues.

Join the Forums

joinDo you have a question, want to share medical advice, or just need to discuss your situation with someone else having a similar experience?

The forums are a resource for everyone to share and discuss their health and medical needs with others, and get answers to medical questions from the leading experts in the field of sexual medicine

Stay updated with our monthly newsletter

Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter—Get updates about advances in the field, new products and medical trials in your area. Your information will never be shared without your consent.

Leave this field empty