Sexual communication, dyadic adjustment, and psychosexual well-being in premenopausal women with self-reported dyspareunia and their partners: a controlled study

J Sex Med. 2014 Jul;11(7):1786-97. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12518. Epub 2014 Apr 1.


Introduction: Although research that takes into account partner and relationship factors in dyspareunia is slowly emerging, little is known about how these couples communicate about their sexuality. Additionally, partner psychosexual adjustment has not been examined in a controlled fashion.

Aim: This study aimed to compare dyadic sexual communication, dyadic adjustment, psychological adjustment, and sexual well-being of women with self-reported dyspareunia and their partners with those of pain-free control women and their partners.

Methods: Premenopausal women (n = 38; mean [M] age = 24.92) with self-reported dyspareunia, their partners (n = 38; M age = 26.71), as well as pain-free control women (n = 44; M age = 25.86) and their partners (n = 44; M age = 27.95) completed an online survey measuring dyadic sexual communication, dyadic adjustment, anxiety, depression, sexual functioning, and sexual distress.

Main outcome measures: Assessments of women and men's (i) dyadic sexual communication; (ii) dyadic adjustment; (iii) anxiety; (iv) depression; (v) sexual functioning; and (vi) women's sexual distress were the main outcome measures.

Results: Compared with pain-free controls, women with dyspareunia reported significantly poorer dyadic sexual communication, a difference not found between partners of women with dyspareunia and control partners. Compared with partners of control women, those of women with dyspareunia reported significantly more impaired sexual functioning. No differences in dyadic adjustment were found between women with dyspareunia and pain-free control women, or between their respective partners. Finally, compared with control women, those with dyspareunia reported significantly more impaired psychological and sexual well-being.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that dyspareunia impacts not only the psychosexual adjustment of affected women but also that of their partners. It seems relevant to include both members of the couple in future research and treatment for dyspareunia.

Keywords: Couples; Dyadic Adjustment; Dyadic Sexual Communication; Dyspareunia; Pain; Partners; Psychological Adjustment; Sexual Distress; Sexual Functioning.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Communication*
  • Dyspareunia / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Premenopause / psychology
  • Self Report
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult