Vaginismus or not?

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    First I would like to thank you for providing these forums, they have given me some good food for thought tonight. Anyway, here is my story: 31 year old female, still a virgin (just hasn’t happened due to school/work, no previous attempts at intercourse). I had my first pelvic exam around age 23 and don’t remember much of it. I had the next at age 25 and remember immediately tensing up and crawling up the table when she used the speculum. They were eventually able to collect my pap smear. She did a bimanual exam, but I do not remember if it was uncomfortable.

    Fast forward to yesterday, when I went for my next pap smear (I had put it off because of the previous experience). I felt like I was fairly relaxed. When she inserted the speculum, it felt fine until she was a couple of centimeters in, then there was intense pressure. I tensed up and she waited a moment and it didn’t go away, but didn’t get worse. She again advanced the speculum and more pressure came. We repeated this a couple more times, even noting pressure deeper when she could see my cervix. She eventually did get a pap smear collected. She also did a bimanual exam, with which I felt none of that pressure, nor any discomfort or pain.

    I guess because of how differently the two parts of the exam went yesterday, I am confused as to whether I have vaginismus. I was able to use tampons in the past (I now take OCPs, so I don’t have a period), although I do remember struggling at first and that it was quite painful the first couple of times I used them. I also decided to see if I reacted similarly to a finger last night. I felt the same sort of burning both a couple of centimeters in and at the top posterior vagina, but was able to get one finger all the way in. I attempted to use two fingers, but that was met with a lot of pain right at the opening, so I stopped.

    I guess I just wanted to see your opinion about whether this is vaginismus. It does give me some anxiety about whether I will be able to have sex in the future, so I would just like some thoughts. Thank you!


    Hello and welcome to the forum! I am one of the clinicians at Maze Women’s Health. Based on what you describe, it is possible that something is going on. What did your doctor say about the experience? It is difficult to compare a pelvic exam to a sexual experience, that is to say, some women may have uncomfortable pelvic exams but can have pain-free intercourse. But it does seem reasonable at this point to be evaluated for vaginismus.


    Welcome mk8765! Glad you are here.

    Know that vaginismus isn’t a black-and-white diagnosis and we see a lot of grey in terms of how often symptoms arise and the extent of the discomfort.


    Welcome mk8765! Glad you are here.

    Know that vaginismus isn’t a black-and-white diagnosis and we see a lot of grey in terms of how often symptoms arise and the extent of the discomfort.



    As someone who has and went through treatment (dilators at Maze women’s health) for vaginismus, I think it’s worth it to get checked out – at the least, so that you’re less stressed about it and more relaxed/confident for future pelvic exams/sexual experiences.

    I also think it is a very good sign that you were able to use tampons previously and are able to insert a finger by yourself/take a pelvic exam, albeit not easily. It’s very possible that you don’t have vaginismus or don’t have a bad case (like Rachel said, it’s not black-and-white), but that the use of dilators to get you/your muscles used to the feeling of something larger inside you could be incredibly beneficial.

    If you bought dilators on your own, you may find that getting in the smallest sized dilators (with lube) doesn’t give you much discomfort. You may find that some of the larger ones give you pain or discomfort. This makes sense – you and your muscles aren’t used to something that size inside you! Just like I, after never picking up free weights in my life, probably can’t pick up 50- or 60-lb weights 🙂

    But using dilators, whether by yourself or if are able to go to Maze or a similar clinic, could stretch your muscles to get them used to larger and larger dilators to make future pelvic exams and/or sexual experiences a piece of cake. Or give you the confidence or relief that you do NOT have to worry about having vaginismus or pain during exams/sex.

    I hope this makes sense – definitely let me know if you have any questions or concerns 🙂 good luck!

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