The DSM diagnostic criteria for vaginismus

Arch Sex Behav. 2010 Apr;39(2):278-91. doi: 10.1007/s10508-009-9560-0.


Vaginal spasm has been considered the defining diagnostic characteristic of vaginismus for approximately 150 years. This remarkable consensus, based primarily on expert clinical opinion, is preserved in the DSM-IV-TR. The available empirical research, however, does not support this definition nor does it support the validity of the DSM-IV-TR distinction between vaginismus and dyspareunia. The small body of research concerning other possible ways or methods of diagnosing vaginismus is critically reviewed. Based on this review, it is proposed that the diagnoses of vaginismus and dyspareunia be collapsed into a single diagnostic entity called "genito-pelvic pain/penetration disorder." This diagnostic category is defined according to the following five dimensions: percentage success of vaginal penetration; pain with vaginal penetration; fear of vaginal penetration or of genito-pelvic pain during vaginal penetration; pelvic floor muscle dysfunction; medical co-morbidity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders*
  • Dyspareunia / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Spasm / diagnosis
  • Spasm / physiopathology
  • Vagina / physiopathology
  • Vaginismus / diagnosis*
  • Vaginismus / physiopathology