Vaginismus Symptoms - Common Signs & Symptoms of Vaginismus

Vaginismus symptoms

According to a recent article by Yitzchak Binik published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) (American Psychiatric Association, 2009) the diagnostic criterion for vaginismus is recurrent or persistent involuntary spasm of the musculature of the outer third of the vagina that interferes with sexual intercourse. The disturbance causes marked personal distress or interpersonal difficulty and the disturbance is not better accounted for by another disorder and is not due exclusively to the direct physiological effects of a general medical condition. Vaginismus may be characterized as lifelong/acquired or generalized/situational and may be due to psychological factors or a combination of other factors.

The spasms of the muscles close the vagina (National Institutes of Health, 2010). Such vaginal spasms make it difficult or nearly impossible to insert anything including a finger, tampon, yeast or estrogen cream applicator, and it prevents the penis from entering the vagina. Women who have vaginismus find it exceptionally difficult to have a gynecological pelvic examination. With vaginal spasms, there is often avoidant behavior or a phobic avoidance associated with the involuntary pelvic muscle contraction. Women may express a deep sense of anxiety, fear and anticipation of pain.

Structural and physical abnormalities must be addressed and ruled out. Physical obstructions to the opening and penetration should be evaluated and medical gynecological conditions like intact or firm hymen, or a septated vagina must be ruled out. Chronic infections like yeast lichen planus, and vulvar and vaginal atrophy from diminished estrogen or prolonged chronic pain or fibrosis or thickening at an episiotomy may make penetration excruciating painful and avoidant behavior may follow.



Read more about symptoms affecting the vulva and vagina that may be causing discomfort or pain.

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Read more about vulvar and vaginal disorders that affect women and their quality of life.

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