Why Us? Perceived Injustice is Associated With More Sexual and Psychological Distress in Couples Coping With Genito-Pelvic Pain

J Sex Med. 2016 Jan;13(1):79-87. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2015.11.007.

Abstract

Introduction: Provoked vestibulodynia (PVD) is the most frequent cause of genito-pelvic pain/penetration disorder (GPPPD) and is associated with negative psychological and sexual consequences for affected women and their partners. PVD is often misdiagnosed or ignored and many couples may experience a sense of injustice, due to the loss of their ability to have a normal sexual life. Perceiving injustice has been documented to have important consequences in individuals with chronic pain. However, no quantitative research has investigated the experience of injustice in this population.

Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate the associations between perceived injustice and pain, sexual satisfaction, sexual distress, and depression among women with PVD and their partners.

Methods: Women diagnosed with PVD (N = 50) and their partners completed questionnaires of perceived injustice, pain, sexual satisfaction, sexual distress, and depression.

Main outcome measures: (1) Global Measure of Sexual Satisfaction Scale; (2) Female Sexual Distress Scale; (3) Beck Depression Inventory-II; and (4) McGill-Melzack Pain Questionnaire.

Results: After controlling for partners' age, women's higher level of perceived injustice was associated with their own greater sexual distress, and the same pattern was found for partners. Women's higher level of perceived injustice was associated with their own greater depression, and the same pattern was found for partners. Women's higher perceived injustice was not associated with their own lower sexual satisfaction but partners' higher perceived injustice was associated with their own lower sexual satisfaction. Perceived injustice was not associated with women's pain intensity.

Conclusion: Results suggest that perceiving injustice may have negative consequences for the couple's sexual and psychological outcomes. However, the effects of perceived injustice appear to be intra-individual. Targeting perceived injustice could enhance the efficacy of psychological interventions for women with PVD and their partners.

Keywords: Depression; Genito-Pelvic Pain; Pain; Perceived Injustice; Provoked Vestibulodynia; Sexual Distress; Sexual Satisfaction.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Dyspareunia / complications
  • Dyspareunia / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orgasm
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pelvic Pain / psychology*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vulvodynia / complications
  • Vulvodynia / psychology*