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‘Getting Stuck’ – Is it witchcraft or a medical condition?

News of couples “getting stuck” while having sex are very common in Kenya with the latest incident being reported on Friday at Baraka Hotel in Kitale town.

It's not the most romantic ending a couple can imagine but stories of getting stuck during sex have been with us for centuries.

In almost every of these cases, there are narratives of how either the husband or wife to any of the victims is said to have sought the services of a witchdoctor to “lock” their spouses.

But the big question is, are these cases as a result of witchcraft or is there a medical condition that results to couples getting stuck during sex?

Medics classify this rare phenomenon into two categories; either “Penis Captivus” (captive penis) or “Vaginismus” where a woman’s ‘P-Unit’ contracts involuntarily.

Penis captivus.

Penis captivus is the medical term for when the penis is essentially held captive by the vagina during sexual intercourse. It gets stuck, neither partner can separate the bond.

When the muscles in the vagina clamp down on the penis much more firmly than usual, it makes it impossible for the penis to withdraw from the vagina. Here, the muscles of the woman's pelvic floor contract rhythmically at orgasm, completely locking the penis and forcing it to get stuck and further engorged.

In this case scenario, those rhythmic contractions the woman experiences during an orgasm aren’t spasms — these usually characterise vaginismus, which can cause vaginal spasms so strong and painful that the vagina closes.

Penis captivus occurs more frequently in animals than it does in humans. Many dog-owners will have seen their pets getting stuck during copulation, which breeders refer to as a “tie”. However, there are distinct anatomical reasons for this. A dog's penis has a compartment which fills with blood after intercourse has begun, effectively locking the male in place.

For the unlucky man who finds himself ensnared in the ‘honey pot,’ trying to pull out is akin to an attempt to free your hand from a crocodile’s mouth!


Vaginismus is a sexual dysfunction in women, characterised by painful, involuntary tightening or contractions of muscles that surround the vaginal entrance.

Though the actual cause is unknown, doctors say that some of the attributing factors include previous sexual trauma, anxiety or trauma during childbirth, as well as infections. Previous sexual abuses, thinking the vagina is too small are other probable causes of vaginismus.

Depending on the onset of the uncomfortable feeling, medics describe it as either primary or secondary.

Primary vaginismus relates to a woman who has always had painful sex, whereas secondary vaginismus is usually caused by a medical condition, traumatic event, childbirth, surgery, or life-changing phases like menopause.

Some of the suggested ways to treat it include using lubrication.

Vulnerable women can also perform exercises that dilate the vagina known as Kegels, which involves squeezing and releasing your pelvic floor muscles to help in gaining control over muscles that cause the vagina to close involuntarily. The Kegels are done by tightening the muscles of the pelvic floor – the same muscles you would contract if you were on the toilet urinating and wanted to stop the flow of urine.

If the cause is from an infection, appropriate drugs can be prescribed. Surgery is another option for some cases, but this can only be explored after a comprehensive medical examination and discussion with your doctor.

If the cause of the involuntary contractions is psychological, counselling is available, and so is sex therapy, to tackle fear or anxiety related to sex. It is advisable to visit your doctor for professional opinion about painful sex.

That notwithstanding, should you ever find this actually happening, then both you and need to relax and take the focus off of intercourse and anything sexy. This allows blood to leave the penis, so that the man can withdraw more easily and her pelvic floor muscles will also relax, as not to clench the shaft. 

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