Archives of Sexual Behavior vol:42 issue:6 pages:999-1010
With a prevalence of 15-21 %, dyspareunia is one of the most commonly reported sexual dysfunctions in pre-menopausal women under the age of 40. Studies to date have focused primarily on clinical samples, showing that women with dyspareunia report overall sexual impairment, anxiety, and feelings of sexual inadequacy. However, little is known about their body image and genital self-image and few studies have sampled women exclusively from the general population. The aim of the present, controlled study was to investigate body image and genital self-image in a community sample of pre-menopausal women with self-reported dyspareunia. In total, 330 women completed an online survey, of which 192 (58 %) had dyspareunia and 138 (42 %) were pain-free control women. In comparison to pain-free control women, women with dyspareunia reported significantly more distress about their body image and a more negative genital self-image. Moreover, findings from a logistic regression, in which trait anxiety was controlled for, showed that a more negative genital self-image was strongly and independently associated with an increased likelihood of reporting dyspareunia. These results suggest that, in women with dyspareunia, body image and genital self-image are significantly poorer and would benefit from more attention from both clinicians and researchers.