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Pain Research and Management
Volume 13 (2008), Issue 3, Pages 255-263
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2008/801019
Review

Review of the Literature on the Psychoemotional Reality of Women with Vulvodynia: Difficulties Met and Strategies Developed

Maude Cantin-Drouin,1 Dominique Damant,2 and Daniel Turcotte3

1Université Laval, Canada
2École de service social, Université de Montréal, Canada
3École de service social, Université Laval (Québec), Canada

Copyright © 2008 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Within the past three decades, increased attention has been placed on the study of vulvodynia - an unexplained chronic vulvular discomfort felt without any related pathology. In addition to its physical implications, vulvodynia has a psychosocial dimension.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of the current article is to present a review of the literature on the psychoemotional reality of women with vulvodynia.

METHOD: A systematic literature review was conducted in the main social sciences databases, such as Dissertation Abstracts, Current Contents and PsycINFO.

RESULTS: Although some discrepancies were found in study results, the review of the literature revealed that women with vulvodynia are often confronted with identity and psychological difficulties, which are, in turn, influenced by social standards regarding sexuality and femininity. To cope with these difficulties, women develop different strategies to decrease the stress related to pain and enhance their psychological well-being.

CONCLUSION: The psychological and relational difficulties experienced by women with vulvodynia are not only due to the physical pain but also to the meaning they attribute to it, often influenced by social expectations related to heterosexuality and femininity. Hence, it is important to assist these women by increasing their knowledge on the psychosocial aspects of their experience while taking into account influences from the social context.