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Adv Psychosom Med. 2011;31:83-104. doi: 10.1159/000328810. Epub 2011 Oct 10.

Management of female sexual pain disorders.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ont., Canada.


Our understanding of the sexual pain disorders vaginismus and dyspareunia has been fundamentally altered over the past two decades due to increased attention and empirically sound research in this domain. This increased knowledge base has included a shift from a dualistic view of the etiology of painful and/or difficult vaginal penetration being due to either psychological or physiological causes, to a multifactorial perspective. The present chapter reviews current classification and prevalence rates, including ongoing definitional debates. Research regarding the etiology, assessment and management of sexual pain disorders is discussed from a biopsychosocial perspective. Cyclical theories of the development and maintenance of sexual pain disorders, which highlight the complex interplay among physiological, psychological and social factors, are described. Medical/surgical treatment options, pelvic floor rehabilitation and psychological approaches are reviewed, as well as future directions in treatment research.

Copyright © 2011 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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