Does vaginismus exist? A critical review of the literature

J Nerv Ment Dis. 1999 May;187(5):261-74. doi: 10.1097/00005053-199905000-00001.


The basic strategies and methods for assessing and treating vaginismus were proposed by the early 20th century and have not essentially changed. Etiological theories have changed over time but are not supported by controlled empirical studies. This critical review of the literature disputes the widely held belief that vaginismus is an easily diagnosed and easily treated sexual dysfunction. We propose a reconceptualization of vaginismus as either an aversion/phobia of vaginal penetration or a genital pain disorder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Coitus / psychology
  • Dyspareunia / diagnosis
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Phobic Disorders / classification
  • Phobic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Psychotherapy
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / diagnosis*
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / etiology
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / therapy
  • Somatoform Disorders / classification
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis
  • Treatment Outcome