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


There are no epidemiological studies examining the population prevalence of vaginismus. This may be true since such a study would probably require a stressful gynecological examination that sufferers might often prefer to avoid. As a result, there have been dramatically varying estimates regarding the prevalence of this problem. Some such as Masters and Johnson claim that it is a relatively rare condition,[3,6] while others suggest that it is one of the most common female psychosexual dysfunctions.[7–10] Although the population prevalence remains unknown, the prevalence rates in clinical settings have been reported to range between 5–17%.[11]

In a British study, Ogden and Ward examined the help-seeking behaviours of women suffering from vaginismus and found that the professional most frequently consulted was the general practitioner.[12] Unfortunately, their respondents reported that general practitioners were the least helpful health professional they consulted. Overall, there was general dissatisfaction with available help, which may reinforce many vaginismic women's pre-existing avoidance in seeking help. This is consistent with Shifren et al.'s findings in the USA that only a third of women with 'any distressing sexual problem' consult.[13] According to their sample, the barriers for receiving professional help were poor self perceived health and embarrassment in discussing sexual problems.