Vaginismus, sometimes anglicized vaginism is the German name for a condition which affects a woman’s ability to engage in any form of vaginal penetration, including sexual intercourse, insertion of tampons, and the penetration involved in gynecological examinations. This is the result of a reflex of the pubococcygeus muscle, which is sometimes referred to as the “PC muscle”. The reflex causes the muscles in the vagina to tense suddenly, which makes any kind of vaginal penetration—including sexual intercourse—painful or impossible.
A woman suffering from vaginismus does not consciously control the spasm. The vaginismic reflex can be compared to the response of the eye shutting when an object comes towards it. The severity of vaginismus and the pain during penetration, including sexual penetration, varies from woman to woman.