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Pain During Sex - Vaginismus

Vaginismus is a source of intense sexual pain for some women, to the point that some are unable to have intercourse at all.

Vaginismus happens when a woman’s pelvic muscles have spasms at the start of penetration. This puts pressure on the vagina, almost closing the opening. Sometimes intercourse can happen, but it’s painful because the pressure is so tight. In many cases, intercourse is impossible.

For a woman with vaginismus, these spasms are involuntary. She cannot control them. And vaginismus can happen with other types of penetration, like pelvic exams or tampon use.

Vaginismus is not common, affecting less than 2% of American women, according to New York University’s Langone Medical Center.

However, for those women, vaginismus causes serious pain and emotional distress. It can cause problems in their relationships as well.

Vaginismus can have a variety of causes, including past sexual abuse or trauma, fear of sex, or problems with a relationship. The woman may want to have intercourse, but something in her subconscious may cause her pelvic muscles to contract.

Vaginismus is often treated with counseling and/or sex therapy. With a therapist, the woman (with her partner, if appropriate) can work through past issues and learn more about her sexual anatomy. She might be given plastic vaginal dilators to work with at home. These can help her learn to relax her pelvic muscles and become comfortable with penetration at her own pace.