Supportive Partner May Make Sex Pain Worse

MONTREAL, Sept. 11 (UPI) — Male partners who communicate support, attention and sympathy to women with chronic vulvovaginal pain may trigger more pain, Canadian researchers find.

Lead author Dr. Natalie O. Rosen, a University of Montreal postdoctoral fellow in psychology, and colleagues at University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre say provoked vestibulodynia — chronic pain of the vulva, which can interfere with daily activities including sitting, walking, physical exercise and sexual intercourse — is a condition that affects 12 percent of premenopausal women.

“An overly concerned partner may lead a woman to avoid sexual intercourse or exacerbate her pain by increasing her anxiety, hyper-vigilance and negative thoughts about the pain, which can in turn increase her pain during intercourse,” Rosen says in a statement. “If a man avoids sexual intercourse with a partner with provoked vestibulodynia, then he may also reinforce her negative pain appraisals and that can lead to increased pain during intercourse.”

However, the study finds a more concerned attitude in male partners was linked to greater sexual satisfaction in women suffering with provoked vestibulodynia.

“It’s likely that women interpret the attention from their partner as a greater sensitivity and understanding of her pain during sexual activity and that results in greater sexual satisfaction,” Rosen says.

The findings are published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

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