The term “vaginismus” refers to vaginal pain primarily brought on by the muscles in the outer third of the vagina contracting unintentionally throughout or in preparation for penetration. As a result of the pain, penetration is either challenging and unpleasant (i.e., named dyspareunia) or impossible (i.e., named vaginismus) because the vaginal muscles are so tightly contracted that trying to enter feels like “hitting a wall.” It should come as no surprise that the illness frequently results in sexual problems and emotional suffering.

Given that there are several varieties of vaginismus, it can be helpful to identify the specifics of what you have been feeling to better understand your own experience:

  1. Lifelong 

Some people have pain from the first vaginal penetration attempt, and it can last a lifetime, especially if it is not treated in therapy or with a doctor.

  1. Acquired 

Others experience it after some time has passed. After a period of normal functioning, the woman develops vaginismus, sometimes suddenly. Examples of this include pain that develops after engaging in sexual activity while feeling troubled emotionally or after a medical issue has resulted in painful sex.

  1. General

 There is another distinction that is occasionally made in the medical community when it emerges as a common response whenever any vaginal penetration is attempted (including the attempted use of tampons).

  1. Situational 

 In this type of vaginismus, the symptoms only appear in certain circumstances, such as during sexual contact with a certain partner, during a gynaecological checkup, or specifically during sexual intercourse only, whereas other penetrations are not problematic.

There are several ways you may find to help with your vaginismus, here we have listed 5 important ones to start with:

  1. Get a good understanding of what vaginismus is. 

If you have or suspect vaginismus, it is important to get a good understanding of what the condition is and how it can impact your life. There are many resources available online that sometimes be misleading. Therefore, to get the right information, consult the healthcare provider that can help you learn more about vaginismus.

  1. Reduce tension in your body

 One of the most crucial steps in preventing the vaginismus response is reducing tension in the body. Different relaxation-promoting exercises could help with the symptoms including but not limited to practicing breathwork and mindfulness. Since many different techniques can be used, you may need to try a few to find the ones that work best for you.

  1. Join a support group. 

Population-based studies show that the prevalence of sexual pain in women ranged from 4.2-42%. Therefore, it is important to see that you are not alone. There are many online and in-person support groups available for those who experience vaginismus. These groups can be a great resource for information as well as support.

  1. Research vaginal dilators.

 A vaginal dilator is a medical device designed to help stretch the vaginal muscles, vaginal opening, and the connective tissue surrounding the vagina. The use of vaginal dilators is often recommended for those affected by vaginismus, to help expand the vaginal opening and muscles, making sexual intercourse, insertion of a tampon, and pelvic exams less painful. However, you may wish to consult with your healthcare provider, a gynecologist, or a pelvic floor specialist before using these devices.

  1. Seek out psychosexual counseling or sex therapy.

 If you are struggling with the emotional impact of vaginismus, seeing a professional who specialises in the area could be very helpful. They can help you deal with the anxiety and other emotions that may be associated with the condition.

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.

Seray Soyman is working as a Trainee Psychosexologist within the Willingness team, providing psychosexual education and sexual support sessions, as well as delivering training and workshops. She has a master’s degree in Clinical Psychosexology from the Sapienza University of Rome. Seray’s research interests are sexual communication, sex-positive behaviour, LGBTQIA+ studies, and sexual health.


Crowley, T., Goldmeier, D., & Hiller, J. (2009). Diagnosing and managing vaginismus. Bmj, 338, 225-229.
Stachel-Williamson, M. (2013). Stop Painful Sex: Healing from Vaginismus. A Step-by-Step Guide.