Vaginismus is more common in women in their late teens to early 30s. Anyone with a vagina can get it.

Check if you have vaginismus

The main symptom of vaginismus is your vaginal muscles tightening up on their own when you try to put something in your vagina. This can cause a burning or stinging pain.

It can happen when:

Vaginismus is an automatic reaction, which you do not have control over.

Occasionally, you can get vaginismus even if you have previously enjoyed painless penetrative sex.

Vaginismus does not necessarily affect your ability to get aroused and enjoy other types of sexual contact.

Other things that can cause vaginal pain during sex include:

Non-urgent advice: See a GP or go to a sexual health clinic if:

  • you think you have vaginismus

What happens at your appointment

If you see a GP about vaginismus, they will ask you about your symptoms and may ask to examine your vagina.

You can ask to be seen by a female doctor, and you can bring someone you trust along for support.

Before the examination, you can discuss ways to make it as comfortable as possible for you.

The examination is usually very quick. Your doctor will take a quick look to rule out other conditions, like an infection.

If your doctor thinks you have vaginismus, you may be referred to a specialist, such as a sex therapist.

Treatment for vaginismus

Treatment for vaginismus usually focuses on:

Different treatments for vaginismus
Possible treatment What treatment covers

Psychosexual therapy

A type of talking therapy that aims to help you understand and change your feelings about your body and sex

Relaxation techniques

Mindfulness, breathing and gentle touching exercises to help you learn 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 your relaxation during sex and increase your sex drive (libido)

Vaginal trainers

Tampon-shaped objects in different sizes to help you gradually get used to having something put into your vagina

Treatment is initially done under the guidance of specialised therapists. You'll then usually be expected to practise some of the exercises at home.

If you're in a relationship, you can choose to involve your partner.

Causes of vaginismus

The reasons for vaginismus are not always clear. Some things thought to cause it include:

Page last reviewed: 13 May 2024
Next review due: 13 May 2027