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Vaginismus and an impossible smear

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Vaginismus and an impossible smear

Hi all, im 35 and suffer from Vaginismus. I have tried seeing a Phsycologist when i was in my 20's and still could never overcome this issue. When i was 31 I was having issues with random spotting etc and the only way I could have a smear test was under General. This was due to the fact that I was having symptoms and there was no other way I could find out what the issues were. Fortunately my smear came back clear. Fast forward 4 years and I have just been to see the nurse for my routine smear test. I explained my situation but after 3 attempts the pain was too unbearable and she said she would refer me to colposcopy. I'm not 100% sure what will happen now but I was wondering if anyone else has ever suffered from this and how they overcome it? I tried to relax as best as I could but as soon as she tries to take the swab the pain is just too much and i end up getting more stressed and anxious over it. 

I have accepted that I will never have penetrative sex because of this issue and reading up that puts me in a low risk cateogry for cervical cancer. I have no symptoms to suggest anything is untoward, I know I have to combat this issue but should I be overly concerned that I cant seem to have a smear test? I asked if I could have the HPV vaccine but that was a NO. Any help on this issue would be greatly appreciated

Thank you 


Hi Ruth,

I to have vaganismis!

When i was growing up I felt so Alien. Whenever i would have a boyfriend the relatonship would not last because I couldnt relax when attempting to have penetrative sex. It seemed like i was the only one who struggled with this. I looked into it and there it was. Vaganimis. 

There are a few things i find help me. Have you looked into Vaginal dialators? If not here are the ones i have used and a bit more detail of what they do - https://www.stressnomore.co.uk/femmax-dilators-81061.html?gclid=Cj0KCQiA962BBhCzARIsAIpWEL2t1WeeHykSvjr9C8M388Rod3efS47V9VxRSqd-Z3Y3MxUBqjM1GawaAvKQEALw_wcB

After using these a for a few months I found I could have sex, it did sting a little at first but after a little while i felt my body addapt and relax. Today i still struggle but its alot better than it was 10 years ago, these things do just take time.

It took me 2 years to finally have a succesfull smear test, it helps to have a friendly nurse. I also have to have a muscle relaxent 1 hours beofre (prescribed by my Dr) and use the smallest spectrum with lubrication.

At the end of the day, Vaganimis is normal and so many women have it. I just takes a few trials and errors to understand and sometime overcome it.


I hope this help! xx



Jazza's picture

Hi Ruth

Any sexual contact including non-penetrative, and no matter how long ago it was, means there is a risk for cervical cancer so only those who have literally never had any sexual contact may consider they can safely not have smear tests and even then it's probably  prudent to take medical advice.

I started to find smear tests very painful when I reached the menopause and sadly stopped going for them - see my back story.  I agree with brett that dilators may be helpful although I personally get on better with a vibrator plus lubricant; I got mine from Jo Divine :https://www.jodivine.com/    The website may look a bit risque but the products are good quality and if you look around the website there is some good information relating to sexual health and well being.

Something else you might want want to consider is asking for a referral to a women's health physiotherapist (WHP) or a psycho-sexual therapist.  I've seen both and I found the WHP particularly helpful with the problems I had using dilators which I had to do after my cancer treatment.

Having said all that you might well have a good experience at the colposcopy clinic.  They have more equipment then the nurse at your GP surgery and may well be able to find a solution for you.

Another option is hpv self testing - you can buy kits on-line; try googling on 'hpv self testing UK' (if you are in the UK).  If you test negative for HPV then you don't need a smear test but if you test positive you will need a smear test.  I've never done hpv self testing - insert disclaimer.  There is a recent write up on this website about hpv self sampling which you might want to have a look at: https://www.jostrust.org.uk/about-us/news-and-blog/blog/what-hpv-self-sampling



  • Feb 04:  (age 47y) Smear test normal
  • Stopped going for smears!
  • Summer 16: persistent watery yellow vaginal discharge
  • Dec 16: PMB
  • Jan 17: Hysteroscopy under GA for ?fibroids - abnormal cervix observed -multiple biopsies taken, 1B1 (1B2 on new FIGO) squamous cell cc diagnosed - confirmed by MRI/PET scans
  • Feb 17: pelvic lymphadenectomy - nodes negative, Da Vinci radical hysterectomy- close anterior margin/LVSI/PNI, restaged to 2A1 (2A1 on new FIGO)
  • Apr/May 17: 6 chemo, 25 external radio, 2 brachy
  • May 20:  NED.  Side effects notably hypotonic bladder since hysterectomy - ongoing ISC, unilateral lymphoedema lower abdo/groin/leg/ankle/foot

Thank you so much you have both been very helpful