Vaginismus might sound like a mouthful but simply means being too tight to have sex comfortably. If your girlfriend has vaginismus, it usually means that sex is either painful or outright impossible.

We usually think that having a tight vagina is a good thing. Most women will be pleased with being tighter than usual but sometimes you need to be careful what you wish for. Women who have vaginismus struggle to have sex because their pelvic muscles tighten up involuntarily.

This usually happens just before penetration, whether of fingers, toys or a penis varies. But for the women who have the condition, it might be possible to have sex but it can be uncomfortable. When your girlfriend has this issue, it might be a bit of a tight squeeze all round.

Signs of vaginismus

The common symptoms of vaginismus tend to include:

  • difficulty inserting a tampon due to pain
  • discomfort during penetration (whether fingers, toys or penis)
  • burning or stinging sensations during sex
  • finding penetration uncomfortable even if you’ve previously enjoyed painless sex

Often the body reacts involuntarily to penetration by cramping up even if your girlfriend wants to have sex. A woman can still be aroused and wanting to have sex but experience vaginismus which makes it difficult.

Sometimes the reason a woman’s body reacts in this way is due to a fear of penetration. This can be on a conscious or subconcious level due to her physiology or past experiences. It could also be a temporary issue just because sex is new or you’re only just getting intimate together.

If any of these issues apply, it’s worth visiting a doctor to get things checked out. Especially if there’s burning/stinging sensations as these can often be symptoms of an STI or thrush.

Using lube can help with vaginismus

If your girlfriend has vaginismus, it usually helps to use more lube. Part of the discomfort when penetration occurs is due to the passage being tight. Which might also mean that your girlfriend is slightly more anxious and may not be as wet inside as normal. Simply because her muscles have clenched and her body is resisting having sex.

Using a generous amount of lube can make it smoother when you do enter her. Both for you by making it easier to slide in and for her by easing any friction or dryness. One of the reasons a woman might be afraid to have sex is because she thinks it will be painful. Especially if she thinks her vagina is too small or that you’re bigger than what she’s experienced.

When it comes to this fear, it can help to use more lube than normal to help compensate for any size challenges and make it more comfortable.


Relaxing before getting intimate is always a good idea. Nobody wants to be anxious or stressed out when they want to get frisky. If you help your girlfriend relax through foreplay, tenderness and being close before penetration it can help her physically unwind.

Rather than rushing penetration, you can try to gently pleasure her with toys or your fingers. This way you can gradually help her get used to the feeling of penetration while reducing the chances of her experiencing any pain. Knowing your way around can also help if you check out medical information on this. 

If full penetration isn’t possible, there are other ways to pleasure her using just your fingers. When you encounter tension, it’s better to back off and relax rather than try again. If you keep finding it difficult this can make both of you get more frustrated and tense.

Medical help

If your girlfriend seeks medical help, you can also help support her in the process. After an initial consultation and examination, doctors can rule out any other causes. Often some women might undergo unnecessary surgery which doesn’t actually help their sex lives.

Having any kind of difficulty in the bedroom can affect your confidence. But a condition like vaginismus doesn’t have to stop you enjoying sex altogether. Even without penetration, there are other ways to be intimate.

Doctors might suggest psychosexual talking therapy to help address possible concerns around sex which are making your girlfriend nervous. Alternatively they could suggest trying pelvic floor exercises to help maintain control over relaxing and tensing the vaginal muscles.

Another alternative is to use vaginal trainers of increasing size which help improve a woman’s tolerance of penetration. At home, you might consider using kegel balls or ‘love eggs’ to help your girlfriend explore having an object inside which she can control independently.