Vaginismus, sometimes anglicized vaginism, is the German name for a condition that affects a woman's ability to engage in any form of vaginal penetration, including sexual intercourse, insertion of tampons and/or menstrual cups, 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, as well as the pain during penetration (including sexual penetration), varies from woman to woman.
Spasm may be due to muscles around the pelvis being tight from the frequent tension. This also limits blood flow through the whole vaginal area. This makes the mucous membranes sensitive and prone to tearing. This is painful to different degrees and means that some women experience pain in their daily lives and can in some cases mean that they are unable to ride a bicycle or even wear jeans. Local anaesthesia in the form of gels or creams may help control the problem