Vaginismus is often a response to past sexual trauma or other painful events. In some women, the cause is not clear.

Risk Factors

Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:

  • History of sexual trauma
  • History of painful events, such as infection, surgery, or childbirth
  • Fear or lack of interest in sex
  • Painful first intercourse
  • Relationship problems



The main problem is not being able to have sex without pain. Some women may also have pain during pelvic exams or when inserting a tampon.


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical and pelvic exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.



The cause will need to be treated. The goal is to ease spasms. Choices are:

  • Learning about sex organs and how they work
  • Mental health counseling to learn how to challenge negative thoughts
  • Vaginal dilation exercises that use a woman's fingers or plastic dilators to stretch the vagina
  • Kegel exercises to improve control over the vaginal muscles


There are no known guidelines to prevent this health problem.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.