Correlation between sexual abuse and somatization in women with somatic and nonsomatic chronic pelvic pain

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1991 Jul;165(1):104-9. doi: 10.1016/0002-9378(91)90235-j.


After a comprehensive clinical and psychological evaluation, 99 women with pelvic pain of at least 6 months' duration and normal findings at laparoscopy were divided into two groups, including 47 women with probable somatic causes of pain (group 1) and 52 women without identifiable somatic abnormality (group 2). Women without identifiable somatic abnormality (group 2) were younger, had higher mean somatization scores, and reported an earlier mean age at first intercourse, a higher number of total sexual partners, and a higher prevalence of sexual abuse before the age of 20. Within group 2 (nonsomatic pain) but not within group 1, mean somatization scores were significantly higher among women with a history of sexual abuse than among women with a negative history. When analyzed as risks for nonsomatic pelvic pain, the positive predictive value of both a history of sexual abuse and a high somatization score was 78% (relative risk compared with that of women with zero or one risk factor, 2.1; p less than 0.0001). These data suggest that the psychosocial profile of women with nonsomatic pelvic pain differs from that of women with somatic pelvic pain and that previous sexual abuse is a significant predisposing risk for somatization and non-somatic chronic pelvic pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Medical Records
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Sex Offenses*
  • Somatoform Disorders / etiology*