Dyspareunia in women.


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Abstract

Dyspareunia is recurrent or persistent pain with sexual activity that causes marked distress or interpersonal conflict. It affects approximately 10% to 20% of U.S. women. Dyspareunia can have a significant impact on a woman's mental and physical health, body image, relationships with partners, and efforts to conceive. The patient history should be taken in a nonjudgmental way and progress from a general medical history to a focused sexual history. An educational pelvic examination allows the patient to participate by holding a mirror while the physician explains normal and abnormal findings. This examination can increase the patient's perception of control, improve self-image, and clarify findings and how they relate to discomfort. The history and physical examination are usually sufficient to make a specific diagnosis. Common diagnoses include provoked vulvodynia, inadequate lubrication, postpartum dyspareunia, and vaginal atrophy. Vaginismus may be identified as a contributing factor. Treatment is directed at the underlying cause of dyspareunia. Depending on the diagnosis, pelvic floor physical therapy, lubricants, or surgical intervention may be included in the treatment plan.

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