Interpretation of the Sexual Functioning Questionnaire in the Presence of Vulvar Pain

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Abstract

Objective

This study aimed to assess whether the domains identified by items on the Sexual Functioning Questionnaire (SFQ) apply to women with vulvodynia.

Materials and Methods

Forty-one women with vulvodynia and 43 asymptomatic controls, between the ages 18 and 70 years, were assessed with a physician evaluation and a written survey that included the SFQ.

Results

Women with vulvodynia had a higher likelihood of female sexual dysfunction than did controls as indicated by 5 of the seven individual SFQ domains (desire, arousal-lubrication, pain, enjoyment, and partner domains, p < .05). Scored on individual items relating to pain or penetrative sex differed more by vulvodynia presence than did items related to arousal and emotions. Compared with published SFQ psychometrics, factor analysis among women with vulvodynia demonstrated similar factor loadings in 6 of the 7 domains of the SFQ (desire, arousal-sensation, arousal-lubrication, orgasm, partner, and pain), but the enjoyment domain intermingled substantially with these other domains.

Conclusions

The SFQ factor structure is generally valid among women with vulvodynia. However, vulvodynia may impact responses to individual items on questions about pain and/or penetration, which may potentially result in erroneous interpretations.

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