Vaginismus is a female sexual problem that many women deal with and suffer from, although they may not even realize it has a name. Vaginismus is the involuntary tightening of the pelvic floor muscles and subsequent muscle spasms. This can make any form of vaginal penetration difficult and painful, causing sexual intercourse to be frustrating, and in some cases, impossible.
Vaginismus, causes, and factors
Women with primary vaginismus have symptoms starting at a young age. They often notice a problem when trying to use a tampon or receive a pelvic exam. Secondary vaginismus can develop at any point in a woman’s life, even if she has had years of normal sexual function beforehand.
Vaginismus can be caused by both physical and psychological factors. Some of the most common causes of vaginismus include:
- Medical conditions such as UTIs, STDs, pelvic inflammatory disease, or others
- Fear of or anxiety about sexual intercourse
- Pelvic surgery or other trauma to the pelvic area
- Side effects from certain medications, causing pelvic pain
- Normal or difficult vaginal deliveries during childbirth
- Vaginal dryness
- Past trauma, such as rape, sexual or physical abuse, or assault
- Hormonal fluctuations
- Anxiety and depression
- Relationship problems
In addition to physical or psychological steps taken to resolve vaginismus, further treatment often is still needed to relieve the symptoms to the point where sex and intimacy are enjoyable.
For some women, none of the usual causes are at play, and there is no clear reason for their vaginismus symptoms. However, treatment is still usually an option.