Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 278–291

The DSM Diagnostic Criteria for Vaginismus

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10508-009-9560-0

Cite this article as:
Binik, Y.M. Arch Sex Behav (2010) 39: 278. doi:10.1007/s10508-009-9560-0


Vaginal spasm has been considered the defining diagnostic characteristic of vaginismus for approximately 150 years. This remarkable consensus, based primarily on expert clinical opinion, is preserved in the DSM-IV-TR. The available empirical research, however, does not support this definition nor does it support the validity of the DSM-IV-TR distinction between vaginismus and dyspareunia. The small body of research concerning other possible ways or methods of diagnosing vaginismus is critically reviewed. Based on this review, it is proposed that the diagnoses of vaginismus and dyspareunia be collapsed into a single diagnostic entity called “genito-pelvic pain/penetration disorder.” This diagnostic category is defined according to the following five dimensions: percentage success of vaginal penetration; pain with vaginal penetration; fear of vaginal penetration or of genito-pelvic pain during vaginal penetration; pelvic floor muscle dysfunction; medical co-morbidity.


DSM-VVaginismusDyspareuniaSexual painMuscle spasm

Copyright information

© American Psychiatric Association 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Sex and Couple Therapy ServiceMcGill University Health CenterMontrealCanada