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Pain catastrophizing, fear of pain, and depression and their association with female sexual pain

Burri, Andrea, Hilpert, Peter and Williams, Frances (2019) Pain catastrophizing, fear of pain, and depression and their association with female sexual pain Journal of Sexual Medicine.

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Background. Painful sexual intercourse or dyspareunia is a common complaint among women, affecting 12% - 21% of premenopausal women. Recent studies have started focusing on the role of fear avoidance and pain catastrophizing (PC) in genital pain and have consistently highlighted the importance of psych-affective factors in sexual pain.

Aim. To establish the importance of PC, fear of pain, and depression for the development and maintenance of female sexual pain. Methods. A longitudinal study conducted in the UK assessing sexual pain at two different time points in 2009 and 2013 in a convenience sample of N = 979 British women.

Outcomes. Well validated questionnaires including the Pain Catastrophizing Scale, the Pain Anxiety Symptom Scale, and the Female Sexual Function Index (recent and lifelong version) were applied. Results. Multilevel modeling showed a strong increase of short lived sexual pain over the four years (π01 = -0.33, p ˂ .001). According to the moderation analyses, only depression influenced the change in short lived pain over the four years (π11 = 0.46, p = .016). Similarly, only depression turned out to be independently associated with sexual pain when entered into the multiple regression model, with women reporting higher depression levels also reporting more sexual pain (p ˂ 0.05).

Clinical Translation. Clinicians should be aware that the mechanisms influencing short lived sexual pain and changes in sexual pain seem to be different from the more enduring psychological factors that lead to the development and maintenance of “chronic” sexual pain.

Strengths & Limitations. A very generic and unidimensional definition of sexual pain was used without information on pain frequency or intensity and no information on the possible underlying (medical or psychological or both) causes was available. However, this represents the first study to use repeated measure to assess how pain changes over a 4-year period and to explore the role of potential psychoaffective risk factors.

Conclusion. Among the variables studied, symptoms of depression seem to be the only independent predictor of lifelong sexual pain, over-riding potential influences of pain catastrophizing or fear of pain.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Psychology
Authors :
Burri, Andrea
Williams, Frances
Date : 4 December 2019
DOI : 10.1016/j.jsxm.2019.10.017
Copyright Disclaimer : © 2019 International Society for Sexual Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc.
Uncontrolled Keywords : Pain catastrophizing; Sexual pain; Fear of pain; Depression; Longitudinal
Related URLs :
Depositing User : Clive Harris
Date Deposited : 04 Nov 2019 08:56
Last Modified : 05 Dec 2020 02:08

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