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Vaginismus, pregnancy, and childbirth

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Three typical questions often raised by women with vaginismus:

  1. Can I get pregnant if I have vaginismus?
  2. Can I give birth if I have vaginismus?
  3. Will vaginal birth cure my vaginismus?

These are excellent questions! Let’s review them one by one:

There is a basic perception that pregnancy can only happen with a ‘penis in vagina’ activity (vaginal intercourse) and that other sexual activities, also known as ‘outercourse’ (oral sex, manual sex, etc.), are safe. Even women without vaginismus, who prefer to refrain from intercourse, will often forgo the use of contraception because they feel that pregnancy is just not possible. Not a good idea…

The truth is that a woman can get pregnant if the male ejaculates by her genital lips during the week leading to ovulation, when the hormonal chemistry in her reproductive system is conducive to sperm survival! In other words, we have had many patients who were still virgins yet already parents… As much as they loved their children, they felt a bit of being a ‘fake’ about getting pregnant that way.

That is not to say that getting pregnant with vaginismus is a bad thing. Many women/couples that we met embraced this gift while admitting that they tried all they could to get pregnant: having the man ejaculate as mentioned above, or have the man ejaculate into a small cup and the woman self-inseminating (if she can insert the small syringe), or undergoing assisted reproduction (infertility treatment).

But what happens to the woman with vaginismus during pregnancy? Unless she can tolerate a pelvic (gynecologic) exam and a vaginal ultrasound, she will have to be managed ‘from the outside’ while also addressing her ongoing worries of internal exam/s at time of delivery and whether the baby will come out altogether…

As to the actual childbirth, physicians will typically opt to deliver the baby via a c-section with safety in mind, never having examined the woman’s vagina beforehand for possible anatomical/structural abnormalities. As mentioned above, women with vaginismus who can tolerate an internal exam (albeit under duress) may very well deliver vaginally.

But what about the pelvic floor muscles — won’t their (vaginismus) clenching block the baby’s exit, make a c-section a must??? Not at all. The physiologic process of childbirth provides ample room for baby’s exit, making the pelvic floor muscles a non-player.

Okay, so I had my baby vaginally and now my vaginismus should be cured, right? Yet, it is still here… What is going on? The answer is simple: childbirth (‘coming out of the vagina’) did not address nor cured the fear/apprehension associated with vaginal penetration (‘coming into the vagina’)…

Conclusions:

  • Use proper contraceptive measures if you do not want to get pregnant, remembering that vaginismus is not a contraception method!
  • Discuss the pregnancy/childbirth process with your OBGYN so that your vaginismus needs will be addressed.
  • Examine the pros and cons of becoming a parent while remaining a virgin, with vaginismus.
  • Seek treatment for vaginismus – there is no reason to live with it!
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  • Dr Patrick Quinn says:

    Great blog! Just want to add here that this is one of the best info you will read on the Internet. I am happy that there are people out there who share their experience with the world. Thanks for spreading such useful information for conceive. Great share I must say.

  • Lukong Bernard Shafe says:

    What are the natural cures for vaginismus.
    What advice

  • Heather says:

    Hello my name is Heather. I am 34 weeks pregnant. Never had a papsmear, anything internally. I can’t even withstand a qtip. I am very scared. I am praying my doctor does a c section. With not knowing the abnormalities inside I am very scared. I can’t do nlany dialation checks. I’m scared. Point blank. I’m screaming for help and no one cares

    • Dezi says:

      Hi, Heather.

      I am so sorry you feel that nobody cares. I hope you know that it’s okay to feel scared, and I want you to know that it can get better. Talking about female sexuality can be taboo in modern culture, but problems associated with the vagina are really just like any other medical condition. If we have blood glucose issues, we go to the doctor to help regulate it. If we break an arm, we go to a doctor to set it. If we have strep throat, we go to the doctor to cure it. The same principle should apply to sex and vaginal issues. It is perfectly reasonable to find a trusted medical OBGYN / sex therapist to address the problem. We all have different medical issues, and that’s okay. The right medical professional can help us navigate the problem. You don’t have to cope with the fear on your own. xoxo

    • Ditza Katz says:

      Dear Heather,
      It saddens us that you are left so scared and without answers because vaginismus is still an elusive condition that many doctors do not know much about.

      Indeed, vaginismus calls for a C-section, and you do have the right to request it from your doctor!

      And, once you give birth and recover, it would be a good to have your vaginismus treated and cured so that you can move on with life without such despair.

  • Anthony says:

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  • Fazi says:

    Hi whoever u r I don’t agree with u. For example wat u do if u fail an exam, do u not try to study more next time n sit for the same exam again or u say well it’s god’s wish to let me fail? I married a widow a month ago, with vaginismus n she is afraid I will leave her. As I am a believer in one n only god the creator of the universe n all creatures, I don’t intend to leave her. I can’t penetrate her but I ejaculate near the vagina… Hope she gets pregnant n she loves kids.. Good luck to all n cheers… Peace

  • Julia says:

    Thank you so much for your work on this topic – vaginismus! I was so relieved when I finally found out, what was wrong with me. And I was cured, in a first step by using dilators (I could use tampons and have intercourse but only after I had used dilators shortly before, no spontaneous sex), secondly and finally through the vaginal birth of our child. For me it is therefore definitely a cure and I would like to encourage women to try to have a normal birth if they still feel uncomfortable when having sex.

  • Hashmi Dawakhana says:

    Excellent write-up. I absolutely love this site. Continue the good work! VERY NICE…Thanks.

  • sister says:

    If I had pains during my periods and during sex, it might be I have Vaginismus

    • Ditza Katz says:

      It may be vaginismus but it may be something else. The situation needs to be evaluated for accurate cause.

  • womentc says:

    Thank you. Please email our office for any such inquiries: doctors@womentc.com

  • Preggers and Lovin It! says:

    I have primary vaginismus, but it is mostly cured as far as intercourse goes. I’m now 9 weeks pregnant, and my husband and I got there in the usual way, rather than by artificial insemination or the other ways described in this article.

    It took me nearly 2 years to be able to have successful insertions of his penis, and another half a year before we were able to truly enjoy sex with no pain (I usually have just a little pain at the very start but it goes away quickly, and then if I’m tired or stressed I’ll start hurting towards the end).

    So don’t give up, ladies! It’s possible to be cured, and it’s possible to get pregnant! I’m a little apprehensive about any pelvic exams or vaginal ultrasounds that may be on the horizon, but I’m looking for a midwife/dr who will be understanding about my history of vaginismus, and I know everything will work out. =)

    As for Maypaki and his/her religious views, well. I realize that was posted a few years ago, but I want to give my own insight so that his/her words won’t discourage any devout Christian (or other religion) women out there. I have very strong beliefs in the Christian faith, and I can promise you God does not give us vaginismus because he wants us not to have children. In fact, before I even knew I had this condition, when I was still just a young teenage woman, I received a message from our Heavenly Father that told me many things about myself, including that I would be blessed with motherhood and have children. At the time I just took this as good news about my future, but when I discovered I had vaginismus and as I struggled through the steps of overcoming, that message from my youth was always in my mind as a promise that He did not intend for me to be barren or celibate. And I know that He doesn’t intend that for any of you either. It may take time, and it will definitely be a struggle, but if you don’t give up you will be stronger from your experiences.

    Hang in there and good luck!

    • Jenna says:

      Hi, are you LDS? Just searching for some advice from someone I can understand. I’ve been married about 7 months and struggling with vaginismus.

      • Dezi says:

        Hi, Jenna.

        I know you posted this months ago but I’m LDS, too. I’ve been married for four years and have struggled with pain during sex the entire time. I think I can understand where you might be coming from spiritually and culturally. I am pregnant now and had my cervix checked yesterday and I’m still having trouble with (what I think is) vaginismus. I haven’t been formally diagnosed, but I wish I had gone to a doctor or sex therapist as soon as I was having problems at the beginning of my marriage (now I have to wait until after giving birth). I used to feel ashamed because something was wrong with me as a woman, but now I realize sexual pain is just like any other medical condition. If there is a problem, we should seek treatment from a medical expert so we can get better. Like Jeffrey R. Holland said, we should “seek the advice of reputable people with certified training, professional skills, and good values. Be honest with them about your history and your struggles. Prayerfully and responsibly consider the counsel they give and the solutions they prescribe. If you had appendicitis, God would expect you to seek a priesthood blessing and get the best medical care available. So too with [other] disorders.” Anyway, if you want to talk about it, I’m all ears!

        For anyone else who might be interested, this is an incredible speech that broadly addresses mental, emotional and physical challenges (not specifically vaginismus) and how to navigate them spiritually and physically. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/like-a-broken-vessel?lang=eng

      • Ditza Katz says:

        email our office for more information about vaginismus, and LDS: doctors@womentc.com

    • Cinthia says:

      Thank u so much for ur comment I have vaginismus :/ I been struggling spiritually about it !! I got married a year and 1/2 ago and me and my husband have been struggling with it !! As a Christian women I have to believe what God has stored for us in a future i have prayed about it many times but I know God is bigger then this , keep me in prayer !! And thank you so much .. -cinthia

  • jahder lerato says:

    I’ve always thought that I would always remain a virgin no matter how many times I have sex or maybe I wasn’t destined to have sex or that I might be a lesbian since sex with men hurt… Now I know about vaginismus and I’m glad! But to be honest. I’m scared!

  • i can be a better me says:

    your a nut. there your veiws, stop imposing them on anyone else. i suffer from primary vaganismus and have endrometriousis and other conditions and to treat the others i had to have the vaginismus treated otherwise i would have been in alot of trouble, being unable to walk or talk or eat throwing up and having to go into hospital on a drip when i had my period. i went in for treatment and it was the best thing i have ever done not only do I LOVE SEX i am also pregnant. if you want people to be nuns, go do it yourself and get the cock out of your **** . girls there is help you dont need to listen to psychopaths be the best you can be. i bet this lady also says people with cancer should die. Uniformed…

  • sarah says:

    I have this problem and I am 33 weeks pregant with A lil boy it is possible to over come or find ways around this problem all it takes is a lot of communition and love between a couple .

  • Jay says:

    maypaki is a trouble maker, hes on every single site that talks about vaginismus. Including youtube. He’s just upset because he’s asian and has a worm for a penis 🙂 Vaginismus is curable. You can buy dilators. There is hope ladies.

  • Amanda @ TreatVaginismus.com says:

    Maypaki, I don’t understand your worldview. You can get married and have a happy sexual life with vaginismus. You can also treat your vaginismus with dilators and therapy.

    As for the blog post, I love that it answers some of the big questions about vaginismus and pregnancy. There are many misconceptions out there about vaginismus, and you have helped to correctly and clearly clarify some big ones.

  • mike matthews says:

    I liked this post, it was very informative. I was especially interested in the extent of the problem. I hadn’t realised the intensity of it.

  • ej says:

    maypaki

    you have got to be joking! There are different “stages” of Vaginismus, as Liz above said “Now I know why sex is painful to me” – so intercourse is still possible, ergo: the woman can still get pregnant! a woman can get pregnant without any intercourse at all, and still be a virgin. and what about women who do not believe in god? and what about women who get married and love their husbands, and follow god’s law by entering marriage as a virgin and only find out after they got married that they suffer from vaginismus…should they get divorced????

    you see the world in black and white only. try to look for shades of grey! there is not just right and wrong. it always depends on the person’s point of view. and just because a woman has vaginismus does not mean that she is made for the life of a nun…:-)

  • Liz says:

    I have suffered with this all my life, now i know wy sex is painful to me.