Leone Centre Glossary

Vaginismus in psychosexual therapy


Vaginismus is a condition that can significantly affect a person’s intimate relationships and overall well-being. Within psychosexual therapy, addressing vaginismus involves a compassionate and comprehensive approach that considers both physical and emotional aspects.

About vaginismus

Vaginismus is a condition characterised by involuntary contraction of the pelvic floor muscles surrounding the vagina, making penetration difficult or impossible. Causes can include physical factors, such as infections or hormonal changes, as well as psychological factors like anxiety, trauma, or fear.

Intimacy difficulties

Vaginismus can lead to pain and discomfort during intercourse, making intimate relationships challenging.

Emotional impact

The condition often brings about feelings of frustration, anxiety, and decreased self-esteem.

Therapeutic approaches

Psychosexual therapy aims to address both the physical and emotional aspects of vaginismus. Therapy approaches may include relaxation exercises, education about sexual health, and gradual desensitisation to reduce fear and discomfort.

Process of therapy

Therapy often begins with education and counselling to address any underlying psychological factors. Gradual exposure exercises, such as using dilators, can help patients gain control over their pelvic floor muscles. Therapists also teach relaxation and breathing practices to reduce anxiety and discomfort.

Convenience and flexibility

Therapy sessions adapted to individual needs, focusing on gradual progress and emotional support.


What causes vaginismus?
Vaginismus can be caused by a combination of physical and psychological factors, including past trauma, anxiety, infections, or hormonal changes.
How can psychosexual therapy help?
Psychosexual therapy helps by addressing both the physical and emotional aspects of vaginismus, using tools like relaxation exercises, gradual desensitisation, and education.
What are the signs of vaginismus?
Signs of vaginismus include pain during intercourse, difficulty with penetration, and involuntary muscle contractions in the pelvic area.


  1. NHS. (2022). Vaginismus.
  2. Healthline. (2022). Vaginismus.
  3. Leone Centre. (2023). Psychosexual Therapy.
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This glossary provides definitions of various counselling terms and approaches for informational purposes only, without implying endorsement or service provision