Secondary Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Share this article on:

Does Vaginismus Exist?: A Critical Review of the Literature


The Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease: May 1999 - Volume 187 - Issue 5 - p 261-274

The basic strategies and methods for assessing and treating vaginismus were proposed by the early 20th century and have not essentially changed. Etiological theories have changed over time but are not supported by controlled empirical studies. This critical review of the literature disputes the widely held belief that vaginismus is an easily diagnosed and easily treated sexual dysfunction. We propose a reconceptualization of vaginismus as either an aversion/phobia of vaginal penetration or a genital pain disorder.

1Department of Psychology, McGill University, 1205 Dr. Penfield Ave., Montréal, Québec, H3A 1B1, Canada. Send reprint requests to Dr. Binik.

2Sex and Couple Therapy Service, Department of Psychology, Royal Victoria Hospital, Montréal, Québec, Canada.

3Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Jewish General Hospital; Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada.

This work was supported in part by a grant from Health Canada, The Medical Research Council of Canada, and Pfizer Canada Inc. to Yitzchak M. Binik, and a Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada Fellowship to Elke D. Reissing.

This article stands in partial fulfillment of Ms. Reissing's Ph.D. requirements.

We thank Sophie Bergeron, Karen Berkley, Ken Mah, Bill Maurice, Marta Meana, and the reference librarians of the McGill Health Sciences and Osler Libraries for their help.

© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.