Does Self-compassion Benefit Couples Coping with Vulvodynia? Associations with Psychological, Sexual, and Relationship Adjustment

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid



Vulvodynia, a chronic vulvovaginal pain condition, has deleterious consequences for the psychological, relational, and sexual well-being of affected women and their partners. Protective factors, which can reduce these negative effects, are increasingly studied in the field of chronic pain. One of these, self-compassion, entails qualities such as kindness toward oneself, and has been associated with better adjustment in individuals with chronic pain. Because many women with vulvodynia have a negative image of themselves in the context of sexuality, self-compassion may be especially relevant for this population. This study aimed to investigate self-compassion among couples coping with vulvodynia and its associations with psychological, sexual, and relationship adjustment, as well as pain during sexual intercourse.


Data were gathered from 48 women diagnosed with provoked vestibulodynia—a subtype of vulvodynia—and their partners, using self-report questionnaires pertaining to anxiety, depression, sexual distress, relationship satisfaction and pain intensity during sexual intercourse.


For both women and their partners, higher levels of self-compassion were associated with their own lower anxiety and depression. When partners reported higher levels of self-compassion, they were more satisfied with their relationship, and both partners and women reported lower sexual distress. No significant association was found for pain during intercourse.


Findings suggest that self-compassion is a promising protective factor in the experience of vulvodynia and associated distress. Interventions aimed at increasing self-compassion could enhance the efficacy of psychological treatments for these women and their partners. Further studies are needed to better understand the correlates of self-compassion among this population.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles