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Journal of Lower Genital Tract Disease:
doi: 10.1097/LGT.0b013e31825c2e24
Original Articles

Experience of Symptoms, Sexual Function, and Attitudes Toward Counseling of Women Newly Diagnosed With Vulvodynia

Piper, Claudia Kraus LMSW1,2; Legocki, Laurie J. PhD3; Moravek, Molly B. MD, MPH4; Lavin, Katie MSW, MPH2; Haefner, Hope K. MD1,4; Wade, Kathleen PhD2; Reed, Barbara D. MD, MSPH3

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Abstract

Objective: This study aimed to assess health beliefs and behaviors, experience of pain, coping mechanisms, sexual function, and attitudes toward counseling of patients newly diagnosed with vulvodynia.

Materials and Methods: Participants were enrolled from all newly diagnosed vulvodynia patients seen at the University of Michigan Vulvar Disease Clinic at Chelsea. Participants completed a questionnaire assessing perceptions and beliefs about their vulvodynia, coping ability, sexual function, and interest in counseling.

Results: Thirty-one women were enrolled, ranging in age from 21 to 81 years; 68% had current partners. On a scale of 1 to 10 (low to high), participants rated their symptoms as severe—(mean [SD] = 7.42 [1.50]), perceived little control over symptoms (2.61 [2.64]); were very concerned about symptoms (8.77 [1.73]); and were very emotionally affected by their disorder (7.00 [2.82]). During the previous 4 weeks, 52% reported low to no sexual desire; 71% reported being dissatisfied with their overall sex life; 26% were not comfortable saying no to partner sex; 23% to 36% did not attempt penetration; and for 36%, their pain was rated as high or very high. Sixty-one percent of women indicated that they would consider counseling for coping with vulvar pain. In addition, 29% (9/31) said they “would” and 48% (15/31) said they “maybe would” consider seeing a sex therapist for their vulvar pain.

Conclusions: Women with newly diagnosed vulvodynia report substantial impact of vulvar pain but feel little control over symptoms. Sexual desire and sexual satisfaction are low. Most of the respondents would consider counseling to help address these issues.

©2012The American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology

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