Provoked Vestibulodynia: A Comparative Examination of Mental Health, Sleep, Sexual Functioning, and Relationship Adjustment

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Abstract

Objectives:

Provoked vestibulodynia (PVD) is an idiopathic vulvar pain condition characterized by burning pain at the vaginal opening in response to contact or pressure. Previous research has established some of the psychosocial difficulties experienced by these patients, but direct comparisons with other pain conditions are needed. The purpose of this study was to compare women with PVD to those with postherpetic neuralgia and pain-free control participants.

Materials and Methods:

Participants were invited to complete an anonymous online survey consisting of sociodemographic questions and a range of validated measures.

Results:

Women with PVD and postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) did not differ in terms of pain catastrophizing or pain anxiety, but women with PHN reported greater pain disability than those with PVD. Participants in both pain groups reported significantly more symptoms of stress, depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances than pain-free controls; women with PHN reported more symptoms of depression than those with PVD, with no other differences between pain groups. Groups did not differ on relationship adjustment, but participants with PVD reported poorer sexual functioning than the other groups.

Discussion:

These results indicate that women with PVD and PHN experience similar mental health difficulties, but women with PHN experience more severe impact on their day-to-day functioning and mood. These results support the classification of PVD as a chronic pain condition, as both the pain groups differed from pain-free control participants on a range of measures. Finally, the presence of mental health difficulties and poorer sexual functioning highlights the importance of conducting biopsychosocial pain assessments.

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