The Differences Between Vulvodynia & Vaginismus

When women experience vaginal pain & discuss it with their GPs, many of them find that their doctors have little knowledge of vulvodynia or vaginismus, despite the fact that these conditions are extremely common. – This is due to their limited training in this field

“Research shows that 1 out of 5 women have painful sex, & as many as 1 in 4 experience some kind of chronic pelvic pain. If you’re lucky enough to have a doctor who brings up vaginal pain, they may use confusing terminology that they don’t have time to explain during a packed, 15-minute visit” [1]. To that end, booking an online or in-person appointment with a Vulva Pain Specialist, is the best way forward. – They will provide you with an accurate diagnosis, & devise a Holistic Personalised Treatment Plan to get you back on track as soon as possible

Understanding the Lingo

If you are an individual/woman with vaginal anatomy, it is very important to be familiar with the basic vocabulary which encompasses the fundamentals of vaginal pain. – Not only will it help you explain your condition to a Vulva Pain Doctor in a clear and accurate way; it will also help you understand what your Vulva Consultant explains to you about your condition (both verbally and in writing).

Putting a Spotlight on the Terminology

Vaginismus & dyspareunia are both considered genito-pelvic pain & penetration disorders


In the past, the term vaginismus solely referred to the involuntary contractions of the outer third of the pelvic floor muscles, when a sex toy, tampon, penis, etc., was being put into in the vagina. But these days, the word vaginismus, also encompasses describing the anxiety and pain that accompanies such penetration.


‘Dynia’ means ‘pain,’ therefore, the term vulvodynia, refers to pain that derives from the vulva tissues.

Of note: Vulvodynia can be further classified into clitorodynia and vestibulodynia (terms which specifically describe the areas where the root of the pain is coming from).


[1]. Origin (2018). “Vaginismus, Vulvodynia, Dyspareunia… What’s the Difference?”