Vaginismus Symptoms

Common vaginismus symptoms

There are a number of vaginismus symptoms that help diagnose vaginismus. The most common vaginismus symptoms are extremely painful sex or intercourse being completely impossible. “Why can’t I have sex?” or “Why is sex so painful?” are common questions asked by women who have vaginismus. The next logical question for these women is, “Do I have vaginismus?”

Vaginismus symptoms include the feeling that intercourse is like “hitting a wall” suggestive of spasm at the entry to the vagina. This vaginismus symptom is important because it helps distinguish vaginismus from dyspareunia (intercourse possible, but painful), vulvodynia (pain involving the vulva) and vestibulodynia (pain in the vestibule just outside the vagina and inside the labia). Understanding the symptoms can help lead you down the road for the correct treatment for vaginismus.

Vaginismus Symptoms

Unconsummated marriages

Unconsummated marriage is a common vaginismus symptom relating to the inability to achieve intercourse. Not only is this physically painful, it’s an emotional symptom of vaginismus, as well. Often it is the honeymoon that turns into a disaster when, try as they may, intercourse is impossible. Many women struggle for years with this condition unable to get a diagnosis or treatment.

GYN exams are impossible

Though a GYN exam with speculum may be uncomfortable for some women, an important vaginismus symptom is the inability to tolerate a GYN exam at all. The severe pain and embarrassment associated with not being able to have a GYN exam creates secondary problems of severe anxiety when a GYN exam is planned. Women without vaginismus can become mildly anxious before an exam – but that anxiety can be multiplied tenfold when an exam will ultimately be impossible. Women with vaginismus often call to delay the exam or sometimes simply do not show up. One patient wrote in her questionnaire, “I would rather die than have a GYN exam.” Attempted examination may result in sweating, palpitations, hyperventilation, trembling and a desire to run away; these vaginismus symptoms are suggestive of severe grade 5 vaginismus.

Early vaginismus symptoms

Early vaginismus symptoms include difficulty using tampons and tampons getting stuck once inserted. A tampon that gets stuck is another important vaginismus symptom. With difficulty, the tampon can be inserted, though in more severe vaginismus cases, this is impossible because of pain. Once inserted, the tampon swells as it absorbs the blood and becomes large enough that it can no longer be pulled through the spastic muscle resulting in a tampon which becomes “stuck.” A number of my patients required general anesthesia to remove the tampon.

Burning vaginismus symptom

In association with extreme pain with attempted intercourse, the woman often reports burning as a common vaginismus symptom. The burning occurs after forceful penetration. Any time any muscle in the body is stretched beyond its normal capabilities, one can expect a burning or searing discomfort. The entry muscle being in spasm is forcefully stretched with attempted intercourse or finger penetration and results in the vaginismus symptom of “burning” which may last for hours and in some for days.

Spasm vaginismus symptom

Some women can feel their vagina going into spasm during foreplay and even with kissing, and this too is an important symptom of vaginismus. This vaginismus symptom is less frequent, but important to note when present, and in these cases helps with the diagnosis of vaginismus.

Secondary vaginismus symptoms

Women who are sexually active may develop secondary vaginismus later in life. The vaginismus symptoms are the same as in primary vaginismus with intercourse being extremely painful of impossible, inability to use tampons and difficulty with painful GYN exams. These women are also noted to have spasm of the entry muscle and are treated much the same way as women with primary vaginismus.

Variable vaginismus symptoms

Vaginismus symptoms vary from the ability to use tampons and tolerate GYN exams but not intercourse, whereas others are unable to tolerate any form of penetration. These various vaginismus symptoms often predict the severity of vaginismus. Just as no two women are exactly alike, each woman may experience vaginismus symptoms in her own unique way. It is incumbent upon your vaginismus treatment provider to understand your symptoms and determine the best course of treatment action.

Summary of vaginismus symptoms

Inability to tolerate vaginal penetration with tampons, fingers, GYN exams and intercourse, the feeling that attempted intercourse is like “hitting a wall” and burning following attempted penetration are important vaginismus symptoms that are helpful in diagnosing vaginismus.