Are there varying degrees of symptoms with vaginismus?

Are there varying degrees of symptoms with vaginismus?


Vaginismus Symptoms Range

Vaginismus manifests itself in varying symptoms and degrees of intensity in different women. Fortunately, the treatment method is almost the same regardless of the intensity or specific variation. The symptoms range depending upon type, causes, and complications present. It broadly affects women from all stages of life in that it can be triggered in both younger and older women; in those with no sexual experience (primary vaginismus) and those with years of experience (secondary vaginismus).

It can also be triggered by other pain conditions, surgery, or giving birth, and can pose confusing complications to other pelvic pain problems (see What is dyspareunia? What is the connection between dyspareunia and vaginismus?).

Depending on the intensity, vaginismus symptoms range from tightness causing minor discomfort to total closure of the vagina with impossible penetration. The extensiveness of vaginismus varies from woman to woman.


Examples of Symptom Variations

  • Some experience tightness causing minor burning sensations or stinging during intercourse.
  • Some are able to insert a tampon or complete a gynecological exam, yet find intercourse impossible.
  • Some are able to partially insert a penis, but the process is painful and difficult.
  • Some are able to fully insert a penis, but tightness and discomfort interrupt the normal progression from arousal through to orgasm and bring pain instead. Intercourse is aborted.
  • There may be total closure of the vagina making penetration impossible.
  • Some women experience spasms in other body muscle groups (legs, lower back, etc.) or halted breathing during attempts at intercourse.
  • There may be avoidance of sex or even anything sexual due to pain and failure.
  • Minor discomfort or burning with tightness is experienced with vaginal entry or thrusting but may diminish.
  • More significant burning and tightness is experienced with vaginal entry or thrusting and tends to persist.
  • Involuntary tightness of the vaginal muscles makes entry and movement difficult and painful.
  • Partner is unable to penetrate due to tightly closed vaginal opening. If entry is forced significant pain results.
  • Ongoing sexual discomfort or pain following childbirth, yeast/urinary infections, STDs, IC, hysterectomy, cancer, surgeries, rape, menopause, or other medical issue.
  • Sexual pain of unknown origin or with no apparent cause.



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