Deep Dyspareunia, Superficial Dyspareunia, and Infertility Concerns Among Women With Endometriosis: A Cross-Sectional Study

Sex Med. 2020 Jun;8(2):274-281. doi: 10.1016/j.esxm.2020.01.002. Epub 2020 Feb 13.


Introduction: Deep dyspareunia is a cardinal symptom of endometriosis, and as many as 40% of people with this condition experience comorbid superficial dyspareunia.

Aim: To evaluate the relationship between sexual pain and infertility concerns among women with endometriosis.

Methods: This is a cross-sectional study conducted at a university-based tertiary center for endometriosis. 300 reproductive-aged participants in the prospective Endometriosis Pelvic Pain Interdisciplinary Cohort ( Identifier: NCT02911090) with histologically confirmed endometriosis were included (2013-2017).

Main outcome measure: The total score on the infertility concerns module of the Endometriosis Health Profile-30 categorized into 5 groups (0, 1-4, 5-8, 9-12, 13-16).

Results: The odds of infertility concerns did not increase with severity of deep dyspareunia (odds ratio = 1.02, 95% CI: 0.95-1.09, P = .58). However, the odds of infertility concerns increased with severity of superficial dyspareunia (odds ratio = 1.09, 95% CI: 1.02-1.16, P = .011); this relationship persisted after adjusting for endometriosis-specific factors, infertility risk factors, reproductive history, and demographic characteristics (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.14, 95% CI: 1.06-1.24, P < .001). Other factors in the model independently associated with increased infertility concerns were previous difficulty conceiving (AOR = 2.09, 95% CI 1.04-4.19, P = .038), currently trying to conceive (AOR = 5.23, 95% CI 2.77-9.98, P < .001), nulliparity (AOR = 3.21, 95% CI 1.63-6.41, P < .001), and younger age (AOR = 0.94, 95% CI: 0.89-0.98, P = .005).

Conclusion: Severity of superficial dyspareunia, but not deep dyspareunia, was associated with increased odds of infertility concerns among women with endometriosis. Strengths of the study included the use of a validated measure of infertility concerns and disaggregation of sexual pain into deep and superficial dyspareunia. Limitations included the setting of a tertiary center for pelvic pain, which affects generalizability to fertility clinic and primary care settings. Women experiencing introital dyspareunia, who can have difficulties with achieving penetrative intercourse, may be concerned about their future fertility and should be counselled appropriately. Wahl KJ, Orr NL, Lisonek M, et al. Deep Dyspareunia, Superficial Dyspareunia, and Infertility Concerns Among Women With Endometriosis: A Cross-Sectional Study. Sex Med 2020;8:274-281.

Keywords: Dyspareunia; Endometriosis; Fertility; Infertility; Psychological Distress.

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