Impact of male partner responses on sexual function in women with vulvodynia and their partners: a dyadic daily experience study
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofHealth psychology ; vol. 33, no. 8, pp. 823-831.
Objective: There is a paucity of research investigating the role of interpersonal variables in vulvodynia—a prevalent, chronic, vulvo-vaginal pain condition that negatively affects many aspects of women’s sexual health, emotional well-being and intimate relationships. Cross-sectional studies have shown that male partner responses to painful intercourse are associated with pain and sexual satisfaction in women with vulvodynia. Partner responses can be solicitous (attention and sympathy), negative (hostility and frustration), and facilitative (encouragement of adaptive coping). No research has assessed the influence of daily partner responses in this population. Further, there is limited knowledge regarding the impact of partner responses on sexual function, which is a key measure of impairment in vulvodynia. Methods: Using daily diaries, 66 women (M age = 27.91, SD = 5.94) diagnosed with vulvodynia and their cohabiting male partners (M age = 30.00, SD = 8.33) reported on male partner responses and sexual function on days when sexual intercourse occurred (M = 6.54, SD = 4.99). Drawing on the Actor-Partner Interdependence model (APIM), a multivariate multilevel modeling approach was adopted. Results: A woman’s sexual functioning improved on days when she perceived greater facilitative and lower solicitous and negative male partner responses, and when her male partner reported lower solicitous responses. A man’s sexual functioning was poorer on days when he reported greater solicitous and negative responses. Conclusions: Findings suggest that facilitative male partner responses may improve sexual functioning whereas solicitous and negative responses may be detrimental. Partner responses should be targeted in psychological interventions aimed to improve the sexual functioning of affected couples.