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J Sex Med. 2018 Apr;15(4):558-567. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2018.02.007.

An Online Cross-Sectional Comparison of Women With Symptoms of Persistent Genital Arousal, Painful Persistent Genital Arousal, and Chronic Vulvar Pain.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada.
2
Wasser Pain Management Centre, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada.
3
Department of Psychology, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada. Electronic address: caroline.pukall@queensu.ca.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Persistent genital arousal disorder (PGAD) is an understudied condition characterized by unwanted physiologic genital arousal in the absence of subjective sexual arousal. Markos and Dinsmore (Int J STD AIDS 2013;24:852-858) theorized that PGAD shares a number of similarities with vulvodynia (unexplained chronic vulvar pain [CVP]), including symptom characteristics and comorbidities.

AIM:

To compare medical histories, symptom characteristics, pain characteristics, and daily functioning among women with persistent genital pain (PGA) (n = 42), painful PGA (n = 37), and CVP (n = 42) symptoms.

METHODS:

An online cross-sectional survey was conducted from October 2015 through April 2016.

OUTCOMES:

Self-report measures of symptoms, diagnosed medical conditions, pain characteristics (McGill Pain Questionnaire), catastrophizing (Pain Catastrophizing Scale), and daily functioning (Functional Status Questionnaire) were collected.

RESULTS:

All 3 groups reported similar medical diagnoses and high frequencies of other chronic pelvic pain conditions. Women in all 3 groups reported comparable ages at symptom onset and timing of symptom expression (ie, constant vs intermittent). Women in the 2 PGA groups reported significantly greater feelings of helplessness than women in the CVP group. Women in the painful PGA and CVP groups endorsed significantly more sensory terms to describe their symptoms compared with women in the PGA group, whereas women in the painful PGA group reported significantly more affective terms to describe their symptoms compared with women in the CVP group. Women in the 2 PGA groups reported that their symptoms interfered significantly with most areas of daily functioning.

CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS:

Given the similarities between PGA and CVP symptoms, women with PGA may benefit from similar assessment, treatment, and research approaches.

STRENGTHS AND LIMITATIONS:

Limitations of the present study include its sole use of self-report measures; the presence of PGA or CVP symptoms was not confirmed by clinical assessment. However, the anonymous design of the online survey could have resulted in a larger and more diverse sample.

CONCLUSION:

The results of this study provide some initial support for the conceptualization of persistent genital arousal as a subtype of genital paresthesias/discomfort. These results also further highlight the negative impact that PGA symptoms have on many domains of daily living and the need for further research on this distressing condition. Jackowich RA, Pink L, Gordon A, et al. An Online Cross-Sectional Comparison of Women With Symptoms of Persistent Genital Arousal, Painful Persistent Genital Arousal, and Chronic Vulvar Pain. J Sex Med 2018;15:558-567.

KEYWORDS:

Catastrophizing; Chronic Vulvar Pain; Genital Discomfort; Persistent Genital Arousal; Survey; Symptom Characteristics

PMID:
29609914
DOI:
10.1016/j.jsxm.2018.02.007
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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