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Vaginismus is where the muscles around the vagina tighten (contract) involuntarily. This spasm can be strong enough to make penetrative sex painful or even impossible.

Vaginismus is a common condition. The causes can vary but are usually psychological. One of the main causes is fear or anticipation of pain. When painful penetration has happened , it may be expected next time. This fear may be enough to cause some degree of vaginismus. This then confirms the expectation of pain. The degree of vaginismus (muscle tightening) may then increase, and a vicious circle is established.

It may also be caused by other past experiences such as the trauma of rape or sexual abuse. A difficult childbirth or surgery can also cause a link with vaginal pain.

Attitudes towards sex can also lead to vaginismus. If you have been brought up to believe sex to be "wicked" or "dirty" you may find yourself unwillingly resisting even in what might be socially acceptable circumstances such as marriage.

Some cases of vaginismus may be due to physical causes such as an injury, inflammation or vaginal dryness. Vaginismus may also be related to difficult or painful sexual intercourse (known as dyspareunia).

Treatment depends on the cause of the problem. If there is an obvious physical cause such as injury or infection this can be treated with medication.

Counselling or therapy may be required. Sandyford staff will be able to offer you the best advice and information.