What is Vaginismus?
Vaginismus occurs when the pelvic floor muscle group involuntarily tighten, making vaginal penetration painful and/or impossible. Vaginismus not only affects a woman’s ability to have sexual intercourse and to have a family but also makes gynaecological and pelvic examinations or even using tampons difficult or impossible. While most medical definitions concentrate on the physical spasming of the vaginal muscles when intercourse is attempted, this tends to exclude other factors at play. Therefore, rather than being a sexual dysfunction, as it is often described, it may be a healthy response by the body to protect from harm. For example, the spasming of the muscles may be a way of protecting the woman from harm because of actual experiences such as painful examinations or painful sex, or from anticipated harm because the woman has heard messages that sex will be painful or associates shame with sexual behaviour. These messages can come from a variety of sources such as the family, peer group or orthodox religious messages.