Finding Help for Sexual Pain Disorders
Sexual pain disorders involve a certain degree of physical discomfort when engaging in sexual intercourse. These conditions tend to affect women more so than men.
Finding help for a sexual pain disorder starts with determining what type or form of the disorder one has. This usually entails a comprehensive physical and psychological evaluation.
From there, various treatment approaches are used to address the issues that underlie a sexual pain disorder. As these conditions usually stem from physical and psychological causes, both medical and psychotherapy treatments can work well at helping to alleviate symptoms. The origin and extent of a person’s condition, for the most part, determines which treatment approach will work best.
Physical & Psychological Evaluation
Also known as dyspareunia, sexual pain disorders are classified as psychiatric conditions involving recurrent or ongoing pain associated with intercourse. According to the Boston University School of Medicine, these conditions can take any number of forms with various symptoms and conditions.
- Pain may be experienced before, during or after intercourse.
- Pain sensations may originate from different locations.
- Pain intensity can vary.
- The sufferer may attribute meaning to the pain, such as feeling inadequate as a sexual partner or a medical condition.
In order to determine the source and circumstances surrounding a sexual pain disorder, doctors conduct a series of tests and evaluations. Testing and evaluation procedures may include –
- Complete medical history
- Sexual history
- Psychosocial history
- Lab testing
Overall, any treatment interventions administered work towards managing pain symptoms using a combination of medical and psychotherapy-based approaches.
Physiotherapy treatment works directly with the areas most affected by sexual pain disorder, such as the vagina and vulva regions. Interventions used work to increase a person’s awareness and control over the various muscles affected by pain symptoms, according to the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy.
Treatment interventions may involve giving a person specific exercises designed to desensitize pain-prone areas. In many cases, localized tension plays a big role in bringing on pain symptoms, in which case exercises would involve relaxation techniques.
Depending on the type of pain symptoms a person experiences, other treatment goals may include –
- Normalizing muscle tone
- Enhancing elasticity at the vaginal opening
- Decreasing a person’s fear in response to anticipated or expected pain
Physiotherapists may also use biofeedback-type tools that help gauge the effectiveness of any one intervention approach.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Treatment
Cognitive-behavioral therapy treatment works more so with the belief systems a person holds towards sexual contact, according to the University of Texas at Austin. Therapists usually work with the person affected by sexual pain disorder and his or her sexual partner.
Treatment interventions are designed to help a person (and his or her partner) work through any underlying issues that may be contributing to pain symptoms and develop a healthy self-concept in regards to sexual relations. As communication between partners can have a considerable impact on both emotional and physical intimacy, therapists help couples develop healthy communication styles for both inside and outside the bedroom.