Vaginismus: A Review of the Literature on the Classification/Diagnosis, Etiology and Treatment

Marie-Andrée Lahaie; Stéphanie C Boyer; Rhonda Amsel; Samir Khalifé; Yitzchak M Binik


Women's Health. 2010;6(5):705-719. 

In This Article


Although most research concerning vaginismus presents significant methodological limitations, certain conclusions can be made from the few well-controlled studies. First, vaginal muscle spasm is not a valid or reliable diagnostic criterion for vaginismus. Second, vulvar pain is an important characteristic of most women suffering from vaginismus and should be always evaluated. Third, although vaginismus and dyspareunia are presently considered two mutually exclusive disorders, they share many characteristics and are very difficult to differentiate using our current clinical tools. Fourth, fear and avoidance of vaginal penetration situations have been mentioned to be an integral part of vaginismus; interestingly, there are no controlled published studies examining its role. Finally, the present conceptualization of vaginismus as an easily treatable sexual dysfunction has not been supported by empirical research. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to conduct research when inherent problems exist with the definition of vaginismus.