Secondary Vaginismus

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    I’ve been dealing with secondary vaginismus for roughly 7+ years. I started actively seeking treatment last year. I am in a committed relationship where intercourse went from uncomfortable to excruciating and we are no longer able to have sex. I was once able to have a normal sex life, so this has become increasingly frustrating. The first time I learned what Vaginismus was, I was undergoing a pap smear and the doctor couldn’t even use a pediatric speculum to complete the exam. I later went to a women’s clinic (thinking they would know about sexual pain disorders) asking to start PT and the doctor I saw told me that vaginismus was incurable and that I was improperly diagnosed. She did agree that PT may help so I started that. I think its also worth noting that I’ve received a clean bill of health (no STDs or infections). My physical therapist did a lot of trigger point muscle release exercises and I never made much progress, so she started focusing more on my posture which did absolutely nothing. I got fed up and stopped going. I’ve read a few books about Vaginismus and purchased a dilation kit. I can insert all of the dilators, but haven’t managed to transition to intercourse as it is still excruciating.
    I am wondering if I need a different dilation kit? A better dilation schedule? I called Maze and was told that my insurance would not cover the vaginismus procedure, but I am still wondering how much it costs. Would a good dilation kit be a worthy investment? I see the glass ones referenced are 170$, and I think includes bigger sizes than the ones I have currently. Has anyone overcome secondary vaginismus with dilation alone? I find this whole process overwhelming and lonely, but I’m trying to stop hiding and tackle this problem head on. Any advice or information on this is welcomed and appreciated!


    Are the dilators that you are using not painful with insertion?

    Is your current partner larger than the largest dilator you own?

    If your partner is larger than the dilators you own, and you can comfortably insert all the dilators with no pain, but intercourse is still excruciating, then I think you need to dilate larger than your partner. So getting a bigger set of dilators would be a good idea. I find that penis penetration is not pain free, until you can insert something even larger than your partner.

    This is assuming the pain is secondary to the vaginal entrance still being too tense for the penis to enter.

    There are other factors that can cause pain with intercourse, like hormonal imbalances from birth control pills or menopause, vulvar skin conditions, like lichen sclerosis or lichen planus, or hypersensitive nerves at the vaginal entrance. If any of these are a factor, more dilation might not be the answer, but that needs to be evaluated by a clinician who can differentiate those issues.


    Hi sistergoldenhair. I am so sorry for what you are going through with secondary vaginismus and want you to know that I am here for you 100%. I am very, very happy that you have found this Forum as you have our full support. While experiencing vaginismus myself, my husband and I were the only ones who knew in addition to the various clinicians we visited. I didn’t share it with anyone else, including family and friends and found it too difficult to explain. This was very hard to experience at the time and it’s so nice, again, to have a place to talk to other women who either currently have it or have had it. Like Melissa said, a different dilation kit with a larger sized dilator than your partner could be really helpful. I used the pure romance silicone dilators and the blue one was larger than my husband. I dilated with this for an hour prior to transitioning and it helped me so much. I also used a ton of lube. As time went on, one thing that also really helped us prior to intercourse was using a vibrator. This helped so much with relaxation and, again, was a little larger than my husband which helped immensely. I found an excellent series of posts from a forum member who overcame secondary vaginismus using dilators. I hope this helps. Sending you support and hugs today!!!!

    Post 2: “On day 14 (yesterday), I was able to get the #6 dilator in! My normal dilation routine has been to start with the #4 for about 20 minutes, and then move up to the #5 for the rest of the period. Just to give all of this some context, I use the glass dilators and insert them while sitting on the toilet, like I’m putting in a tampon. I’ve found a lot of success that way. I do all my dilation at once in the evenings usually, just because it works better with my work schedule. I’ve been doing really well with it, and it only takes me maybe 30 seconds to a minute to get each of those sizes in. It’s been easier and easier to walk with them in and take care of dinner and other chores. Yesterday morning, I had the house to myself, and I decided to try putting in the #5 first. I felt confident that I could do it without having to use the #4 first. Took a little more work to get the #5 in than usual, but not bad – only a minute maybe to insert. I left that in for about 40 minutes before trying the #6. The #6 took a lot more work to get in. I did lots of kegel exercises and tried the pushing out technique. It hurt a little bit trying to get it in, but I never let the pain get past a tolerable level. If it got to be too much, I backed off and did some more kegels. Doing it this way really only took 5-10 minutes, though I wouldn’t have been at all surprised if it had taken 30 minutes. Going from the #5 to the #6 was a huge step mentally and physically for me. Once it finally slid in, I was pretty happily surprised. I took a couple of Aleve for the little bit of soreness I was feeling and planned to just lie in bed reading for the rest of the time. As soon as I lied down on the bed though, I had a small panic attack because it actually hurt being in that position with the #6 in. That was a surprise. I fought to keep my panic from rising and overwhelming me and honestly, just barely succeeded in doing so. I just kept telling myself that it’s ok, this pain is temporary, and as soon as I get up, it’ll go away, because it didn’t really hurt when I was standing just now. Lesson learned though – missionary position will NOT be a good idea when my boyfriend and I transition to intercourse. I managed to calm myself down and stand back up where it was more comfortable. Then I just sat in bed reading for almost 2 hours. It wasn’t the most comfortable thing, but it was tolerable once I finally positioned myself just right, and the book was a decent distraction.”


    Post 3: “My boyfriend and I actually had enjoyable pain free sex last night!
    We hadn’t even planned on trying last night, but the stars aligned and we were both in the mood and even had some free time together. I decided that I was ready, if a little nervous, to try just tip only (though I figured it would probably just go right in). As I thought, it went completely in with ease. I had already dilated with the #4 for maybe 20 minutes, #5 for a little over an hour, and the #6 for 20 minutes. We started with me on top, and that was a little bit sore, but not by much. I think it might have been because my legs are a little more tense having to hold myself up in that position. We just stayed still like that as I became more comfortable with it. After a little while of just being like that, I decided I wanted to try missionary position with a pillow under my butt. In order to do that, he had to pull out completely, but I knew it would go back in again easily, so I wasn’t worried. Surprisingly, that was completely pain free! I did notice some discomfort with the wrinkles of the condom, but it didn’t hurt. I know that Dr. Pacik recommends no thrusting the first time, but after having him in comfortably for a little while, I decided that I wanted my boyfriend to try some very gentle thrusting. I’m really good at communicating when he needs to stop or adjust, and he’s extremely good at doing so when I ask him to, so I think that made a huge difference in what we were able to do last night. I trust him completely. If my boyfriend wasn’t as receptive to my physical and verbal cues to ease up or stop, then we would have just left it at that with no thrusting at all for the first attempt. Long story short, by the end, he was able to thrust pretty quickly (enough for him to climax), and it actually felt pretty good to me! Today is my birthday in the eyes of the law, but technically since I was born on the other side of the world, yesterday was my birthday. So hooray, serendipity! That was quite a lovely birthday present :)”


    Thank you for all of the feedback! I’ve ordered the pure romance set of dilators and will see how I do with those. This forum is wonderful.


    That is so awesome that you got the Pure Romance dilators. These were the ones that I used while dilating as the glass ones weren’t created it. I really, really liked many things about them. The silicone material that they are made of was soft and made them more comfortable to insert. I also felt like I could liberally apply lubricant to them and it didn’t dry up. I also really, really liked the handles as it made it easier to insert, remove and reinsert at my comfort level. Please keep us updated as to how you find them and I will be happy to provide any dilating tips that I can think. Sending you big hugs today! :):):):)

    Dr. Pacik

    This is a valuable series of posts whether you are struggling with secondary or primary vaginismus. I agree that dilation is key to successful intercourse, once you overcome the fear and anxiety associated with penetration. It has been my experience that most women dilate incorrectly and this slows their progress. It is a mistake to go directly to the larger dilators. I recommend starting with a small dilator or better a finger to start the physiologic process of natural vaginal dilation which is a normal response to anticipated intercourse. This in association with getting wet makes intercourse easier. It is best to spend a few minutes dilating to the larger sizes, one size at a time to prepare the vagina for penile penetration. The number 7 and 8 glass dilators can be purchased individually at
    Once you have achieved an easier time with penetration you can move more quickly through the steps. Spooning is a comfortable position when first attempting intercourse because both partners are in a relaxed position.
    Congratulations on your success!!

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