Efficacy of functional electrical stimulation-biofeedback with sexual cognitive-behavioral therapy as treatment of vaginismus

Urology. 2005 Jul;66(1):77-81. doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2005.01.025.


Objectives: To report 12 cases of vaginismus that were successfully treated with functional electrical stimulation (FES)-biofeedback with sexual cognitive-behavioral therapy (SCBT) to determine the efficacy of FES-biofeedback with SCBT as a standard therapy for vaginismus. Vaginismus is an involuntary spasm of the musculature of the outer third of the vagina that leads to impossible vaginal penetration, causing personal distress. Various therapeutic approaches, both physiologic and psychological, have been considered.

Methods: Twelve women with vaginismus referred from a checkup outpatient clinic participated in this study. The patients enrolled in this study had vaginismus according to the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The patients were assessed before and after treatment with gynecologic examinations and structured interviews pertaining to sexual function and psychological adjustment. After the diagnosis of vaginismus, we conducted weekly pelvic floor muscle relaxation using FES-biofeedback. Once the patients became tolerable to vaginal manipulation, the eight-stage SCBT (eight-stage gradual desensitization described by Kaplan using vaginal self-dilation with fingers and vaginal probe insertion) was added for 8 weeks.

Results: After 8 weeks of treatment, all 12 couples had completed the program, had become tolerable to vaginal insertion of larger size probes, and could achieve satisfactory vaginal intercourse.

Conclusions: FES-biofeedback with SCBT is an effective aid for patients with vaginismus to learn muscle control. Therefore, it may increase the success rate of treatment of vaginismus.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biofeedback, Psychology*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Vaginismus / therapy*