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Obstet Gynecol. 1997 Oct;90(4 Pt 1):583-9.

Biopsychosocial profile of women with dyspareunia.

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Department of Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.



To compare biopsychologic profiles of women with dyspareunia with a matched no-pain control sample, and to determine whether dyspareunia subtypes based on physical findings have different psychosocial profiles from matched controls.


One hundred and five women with dyspareunia and 105 matched no-pain control women underwent standard gynecologic examination, endovaginal ultrasound, and colposcopy. They also completed a structured interview inquiring about pain other than dyspareunia, sexual function, and history of abuse, the Brief Symptom Inventory, the Sexual Opinion Survey, and the Locke-Wallace Marital Adjustment Scale.


In comparison with women who do not experience pain with intercourse, the dyspareunia sample was found to have more physical pathology on examination, and they reported more psychologic symptomatology, more negative attitudes toward sexuality, higher levels of impairment in sexual function, and lower levels of marital adjustment. They did not report more current or past physical or sexual abuse. However, when the undifferentiated dyspareunia sample was divided into subtypes based on physical findings from the gynecologic examinations, the pattern of significant differences from controls varied according to dyspareunia subtype. Elevated psychologic symptomatology and relationship maladjustment were confined to the subtype with no discernible physical findings who reported levels of sexual function not significantly different from matched controls. The vulvar vestibulitis subtype suffered the highest levels of sexual impairment, although this subtype was not characterized by higher levels of psychologic symptoms than controls.


As an undifferentiated group, women with dyspareunia have more physical pathology, psychologic distress, sexual dysfunction, and relationship problems. However, this pattern of differences appears to vary depending on the presence and type of physical findings evident on examination. Dyspareunia is a heterogeneous disorder requiring comprehensive gynecologic and psychosocial assessment to determine differentiated treatment strategies.

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