Vaginismus is caused by an involuntary, unconscious tightening of the pelvic floor muscles that surround the vagina. This can cause painful sex (dyspareunia) or even prevent penetration by your partner.

Vaginismus very commonly experienced by women of all ages. Although its root cause is often psychological, the pain and distress it causes are very real. Once painful sex is experienced you anticipate it being painful the next time.  Unconsciously, you tighten the muscles around the vagina, to prevent the pain happening again- and so the vicious cycle starts.

Some episodes are triggered by a simple thrush infection or lack of lubrication. Sometimes it can be as a result of hormonal changes. Trauma as a result of childbirth, abusive relationships or sexual abuse can trigger vaginismus. Negative attitudes towards sex whilst growing up can also be a cause.

During our first consultation we will talk about your symptoms and identify what may have triggered them. We also identify if you have bladder and bowel symptoms too.

With consent a gentle genital examination, using an index finger and plenty of lubrication, is required to assess areas of discomfort and ascertain what your pelvic floor muscles are doing. I understand that this can be a difficult and stressful examination for some women and therefore I ensure that it is carried out at every individuals pace. If you don’t feel comfortable having an examination done at your first consultation, that is quite alright. The examination is significantly less intrusive than having a smear taken or having sex, but none the less is an important part of the journey toward recovery.

The mind-body connection is very well documented in modern medicine. Well known phrases such as ‘a pain in the neck’ and ‘sick to my stomach’ illustrate this. Emotional factors can make symptoms of vaginismus worse and part of the treatment process is to explore these.

Using self-examination with fingers or trainers (small, smooth tube-shaped devices of varying sizes) can be helpful in retraining both your vaginal muscles and your mind in treating vaginismus.

Lubricant is a very useful and important tool in reducing the amount of friction experienced. Vaginal moisturisers and oestrogen pessaries can help manage vaginal dryness which is a common cause of vaginismus in menopause.

In a small number of cases, the pelvic floor muscles require more intensive treatment and I will consider working alongside a Women’s’ Health Physiotherapist.

With a combination of counselling and other treatments I can help make sex pain free.

The number of consultations for vaginismus can vary quite considerably from woman to woman and is very dependant on the individuals’ commitment to working towards pain-free sex.

If you are unsure if I can help with a problem you are experiencing, please e-mail me at, which is an encrypted e-mail, to discuss further.