Vaginismus is a type of sexual dysfunction in which spasm of the vaginal musculature prevents penetrative intercourse. The main diagnostic criterion is the presence of recurrent or persistent involuntary spasm of the musculature of the outer third of the vagina that interferes with sexual intercourse. In many cases associated pain or the fear of pain may contribute to its persistence. Herein we report 2 patients that presented with vaginismus that developed secondary to childhood sexual trauma, which was treated with the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) technique.
EMDR is a non-pharmacologic treatment for psychological trauma. Randomized controlled trials with posttraumatic stress disorder patients and with victims of sexual abuse have shown that EMDR is effective. The standard 8-phase EMDR protocol was used in both of the presented cases. Following 3 sessions of EMDR, the patients exhibited a substantial reduction in self-reported and clinician-rated anxiety, and a reduction in the credibility of dysfunctional beliefs concerning sexual intercourse. These findings support the notion that EMDR could be an effective treatment alternative for patients with vaginismus of traumatic etiology.