Vaginismus and why it often threatens to break marriages

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By Dr. M A Khokar , Sexology

Vaginismus is the rather painful contraction of the vaginal muscles that occur on coming in contact with pressure or physical contact that occurs mostly during intercourse.


  1. Vaginismus may be primary (wherein the woman cannot indulge in sexual intercourse because of the debilitating pain that follows) or secondary (wherein penetration was possible previously).
  2. There is no exact cause of Vaginismus recorded by physicians but it is often linked to prior painful sexual experience, the trauma of childbirth, consequences of rape, yeast infections in the vagina or other psychological factors.
  3. Mostly, the pain often seems to exist, without any direct physical cause.


Once diagnosed, the individual is advised to use a vaginal dilator under supervision. The individual is advised intensive therapy along with prescribed physical exercises.

Impact on Marital Relations-

This disrupts the regular sexual functioning of the individual causing her to abstain from sexual intercourse constantly to avoid the pain. Sexual dysfunction may result in severe marital conflicts. Vaginismus becomes an important cause of dispute in certain marital relationships resulting in the continuous degradation of marital satisfaction on the part of both the partners. Since there is no true physical cause, it is rather difficult to diagnose and most people end up disbelieving their partners especially in the case of secondary Vaginismus where penetration was possible before.

Role of Therapy-

To avoid strains in marital relationships, the couple is advised to go and take refuge in therapy.

  1. Mostly, Adlerian therapeutic techniques, wherein individuals are made to comprehend the thoughts and emotions which influence their lifestyles and adopt a more productive and positive way of life, are used to begin with for couples dealing with issues regarding Vaginismus.
  2. Sexual counselling is often used.
  3. The partners are encouraged to talk to each other regarding the issue and the woman is motivated to open up about her fears regarding sexual intercourse and where the fears originated from.