Psychosexual aspects of vulvovaginal pain
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofBest practice and research: clinical obstetrics and gynaecology ; vol. 28, no. 7, pp. 991-999.
Vulvovaginal pain problems are major health concerns in women of childbearing age. Controlled studies have shown that vulvovaginal pain can adversely affect women and their partners’ general psychological well-being, relationship adjustment and overall quality of life. These women have significantly lower levels of sexual desire, arousal, and satisfaction, as well as a lower intercourse frequency than normal controls. They also report more anxiety and depression, in addition to more distress about their body image and genital self-image. Empirical studies indicate that specific psychological and relationship factors may increase vulvovaginal pain intensity and its psychosexual sequelae. Randomized clinical trials have shown that psychosexual interventions, namely cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), are efficacious in reducing vulvovaginal pain and improving associated psychosexual outcomes. Women reporting significant psychological, sexual and/or relationship distress should be referred for psychosexual treatment. A multimodal approach to care integrating psychosexual and medical management is thought to be optimal.