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

Biological Factors

Organic Pathology

A number of organic pathologies (e.g., hymeneal and congenital abnormalities, infections, vestibulodynia, trauma associated with genital surgery or radiotherapy, vaginal atrophy, pelvic congestion, endometriosis, vaginal lesions and tumors, scars in the vagina from injury, childbirth or surgery, and irritation caused by douches, spermicides or latex in condoms) resulting in painful/difficult/impossible vaginal penetration have been suggested as etiological factors.[5,8,16,68,71] There have been no controlled studies evaluating this possibility.

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Pelvic floor muscle dysfunction (e.g., hypertonicity and reduced muscle control) has been suggested as a predisposing factor in the development of vaginismus.[39,45] Barnes et al.'s uncontrolled study (n = 5) argued that vaginismic women had difficulty evaluating vaginal muscle tone and as a result experienced problems distinguishing between a relaxed state and a spasm.[72] It remains unclear, however, whether pelvic floor dysfunction is a predisposing factor or the defining symptom. To date, no controlled longitudinal studies have investigated the role of pelvic floor muscle dysfunction in the etiology of vaginismus.