How is vaginismus managed or treated?

Vaginismus treatments focus on reducing the reflex of your muscles that causes them to tense up. Treatments also address anxieties or fears that contribute to vaginismus.

Your healthcare provider may recommend one or more of these treatments:

  • Topical therapy: Topical lidocaine or compounded creams may help with the pain associated with this condition.
  • Pelvic floor physical therapy: A physical therapist will teach you how to relax your pelvic floor muscles.
  • Vaginal dilator therapy: Vaginal dilators are tube-shaped devices that come in various sizes. Their primary purpose is to stretch the vagina. People with vaginismus use dilators to become more comfortable with, and less sensitive to, vaginal penetration. Your provider may recommend first applying a topical numbing cream to the outside of the vagina to make insertion easier.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT helps you understand how your thoughts affect your emotions and behaviors. It’s an effective treatment for anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Sex therapy: Trained sex therapists work with individuals and couples to help them find pleasure again in their sexual relationships.

What are the complications of vaginismus?

Vaginismus can affect your sex life and relationships with your partner. It can affect your mental health, leading to increased anxiety. If you’re trying to become pregnant, vaginismus may make it more challenging to conceive.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/28/2020.


  • The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. When Sex Is Painful. Accessed 10/29/2020.
  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease. Vaginismus. Accessed 10/29/2020.
  • Merck Manual. Provoked Vestibulodynia. Accessed 10/29/2020.
  • Merck Manual. Vaginismus. Accessed 10/29/2020.
  • National Health Service (UK). Vaginismus. Accessed 10/29/2020.

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