An overview of common gynaecological conditions
Click below to learn more about each gynaecological condition.
The muscle spasm usually occurs in response to the vulva or vagina being touch, such as when inserting a tampon or attempting sexual intercourse.
Vaginismus is thought to be primarily a psychological problem. It can cause distress and have a significant impact on relationships. The condition is fairly common in women who are in their late teens to 30s.
Some women can develop vaginismus after going through the menopause. A fall in the hormone oestrogen can result in a lack of vaginal lubrication. This can make sexual intercourse painful, which can result in vaginismus.
Bladder infections, urinary tract infections (UTIs) and yeast infections can worsen vaginismus pain.
The condition is not brought on by women who don’t want to have sexual intercourse, but only when it is attempted does the vagina tighten to prevent penetration.
Primary vaginismus is classified as when a woman feels pain every time something enters their vagina. This is mostly associated with women who have never experienced vaginal penetration. This is sometimes called lifelong vaginismus.
Secondary vaginismus is when vaginal penetration has been achieved in the past but has now become difficult or is no longer possible. This is sometimes called acquired vaginismus.
This involuntary tightening of the vaginal muscles is the primary symptom of the condition. If you have vaginismus, you can’t control or stop the contractions. In all cases, constriction of the vagina makes penetration difficult or impossible.
Vaginismus can have additional symptoms. These include:
Sometimes you may be diagnosed with dyspareunia, which is a medical term used to describe painful sexual intercourse. Although dyspareunia is often a symptom of vaginismus, it can be caused by physical problems in the pelvic area, such as ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammation or vaginal dryness.
An accurate diagnosis of your problem will determine which treatments you are offered.
It is normal for women with vaginismus to feel nervous during a pelvic examination, so the doctor may apply a numbing cream to the outside of the vagina to make the process more comfortable for you. If a doctor suspects vaginismus, they will perform the examination as gently as possible.
During the physical examination, the doctor will look to rule out any physical disorders, while confirming the presence of muscle spasms. If there is no physical reason for the vaginal muscles to contract then your doctor won’t find another cause for the symptoms.
Vaginismus can be treated. With a suitable treatment programme, the symptoms can be fully overcome, resulting in no pain or discomfort.
A vaginismus cure does not involve drugs or surgery. An effective treatment programme will often combine counselling, education and exercises, including:
Most women, who have followed a treatment programme, go on to have a normal sex life.
They will be able to diagnose the cause of your pain and talk with you about the best treatment options for your specific situation.
An appointment with an experienced Consultant at your nearest BMI hospital can be helpful. They will assess and diagnose the cause of your symptoms and then discuss any suitable treatment options for your specific situation. To schedule your visit, book a specialist appointment online today.
We partnered with pioneering research charity Wellbeing of Women to produce our Women's Health Matters 2021 report. Wellbeing of Women help improve pregnancy care, IVF outcomes and the risk of childbirth complications for women through their ground-breaking research.
Women's Health Matters 2021 provides a comprehensive analysis of ten of the most common gynaecological conditions misdiagnosed or misunderstood for years at a time. Infertility, debilitating chronic pain, the onset of associated conditions and severe depression are common effects of living with a gynaecological condition without access to the right care. Yet despite this, education and awareness around women’s health is lacking.
Millions of women in the UK continue to suffer in silence while waiting for a diagnosis, unsure of how best to manage their pain or seek help. The aim of this Women's Health Matters is to tackle taboos in women's health by sharing the hard-hitting stories of other women living with these conditions, as well as: