| One-Minute Clinician

Moving Toward Better Responses to Sexual Pain

The majority of women who suffer from sexual pain disorders oftentimes don’t receive the most appropriate care. Up until recently it wasn’t even recognized as an actual disorder, but with the change in nomenclature to genital pelvic pain penetration disorder it helps legitimize this condition as an actual disorder.

  • The prevalence of sexual pain can range from
    • 3% to 24% of the general population
    • <34% in younger women
    • ≥45% in older women
  • Women may feel:
    • Self-shame because they’re not able to have or to enjoy intercourse
    • Anxiety and worry about the impact on their relationship dynamics with a partner
  • Providers may not ask their patients sexual function questions because:
    • Sexual intercourse may not be at the top of a provider’s mind
    • They may be uncomfortable with questions of such intimacy
    • They may feel that they don’t have the experience/ability to ask in a way where the patient will feel comfortable
    • There’s a time issue, and a host of other medical conditions with which patients may present
  • Providers should:
    • Address sexual pain in a way that’s direct, that’s specific, and gets patients the care they need
    • Consider best practices: sexual pain is a condition helped by a multidisciplinary approach
    • Take referrals from a primary care physician, gynecologist, urologist, or pain physician
    • Include a sexual counselor or sexual therapist in the mix, particularly if there is some aspect of partner dynamics or relationship that’s being affected by the sexual pain
    • Women need champions: health and fitness professions who should be aware of postpartum and menopause issues