Feasibility and acceptability of somatocognitive therapy in the management of women with provoked localized vestibulodynia-ProLoVe feasibility study

Pilot Feasibility Stud. 2022 Mar 23;8(1):68. doi: 10.1186/s40814-022-01022-2.


Background: Provoked vestibulodynia (PVD) is a prevalent chronic pain condition especially among young women. Pain is localized to the vulvar vestibule and is provoked by touch or pressure, such as penetrative intercourse. PVD can have profound consequences, adversely affecting a woman's sexual life, relation to her partner, and her psychological health. There is an urgent need for well-designed randomized clinical trials (RCTs) to identify the most effective interventions for this neglected women's health condition.

Aims: The primary aim of this study is to assess the feasibility of undertaking a full-scale RCT of somatocognitive therapy (SCT), a multimodal physiotherapy intervention, for women with PVD. The secondary aim is to evaluate the implementation and acceptability of SCT and its potential treatment effectiveness in PVD. In the full-scale RCT, SCT will be compared to standard PVD treatment.

Methods: A multimethod feasibility study with a single-arm before-after trial and qualitative interviews. Ten women with PVD, aged 18-33 were recruited from the Vulva Clinic at Oslo University Hospital. The intervention took place at Oslo Metropolitan University. Participants were assessed at baseline, post-treatment, and the 8-month follow-up with the tampon test and self-report questionnaires. The main feasibility outcomes were evaluation of recruitment rate, adherence to assessment tools, and follow-up rate. The participants' experiences with the primary outcome and the intervention were explored with semi-structured interviews.

Results: Ten out of 18 eligible patients were recruited over 11 weeks. None were lost to follow-up. Adherence to self-report questionnaires was excellent. Adherence to tampon tests and to the reporting of treatments was good, whereas adherence to the 14-day diary was poor. No adverse events were reported. The tampon test was suboptimal as a primary outcome. SCT was found to be an acceptable treatment, based on Global Perceived Effect scores and the participants' experiences.

Conclusion: The findings suggest that it is feasible to deliver a full-scale RCT of the SCT intervention for women with PVD. Some changes are suggested to optimize the protocol, such as increasing recruitment sites, change of primary outcome measures, and adding a booster session.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04208204 . Retrospectively registered on December 23, 2019.

Keywords: Feasibility study; Provoked vestibulodynia; Somatocognitive therapy; Vestibulitis; Vulvodynia.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT04208204