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Media opportunity: Cognitive‑behavioural therapy more effective than anesthetic cream at reducing pain associated with sex: Dalhousie researcher
A new study led by researchers at Dalhousie University and Universite de Montreal has shown that cognitive-behavioral couple therapy can help ease the pain experienced by one in five women during sex.
About eight per cent of women in North America are affected by a condition called provoked vestibulodynia, which is characterized by a burning pain at the entrance of the vagina during penetration, the insertion of feminine hygiene products, or other contact with the area. Women often apply an anesthetic cream, like lidocaine, to reduce the burning sensation.
A new Canadian study of 108 couples has found that cognitive-behavioral couple therapy works better than the cream at getting the pain under control. Published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, the study evaluated the benefits of cognitive-behavioral couple therapy versus lidocaine to treat provoked vestibulodynia.
The researchers found that therapy was more effective than lidocaine in reducing women's pain, lessening their fear and anxiety about the pain, diminishing their sexual distress and improving their sex life overall. After a six-month follow-up, they also discovered that the women involved in couple’s therapy were twice as satisfied with their sex life while their partners were three times as satisfied.
Dr. Natalie Rosen, an associate professor in Dal’s Departments of Psychology and Neuroscience and Obstetrics and Gynecology, co-led the study with colleagues from Universite de Montreal.
Dr. Rosen is available to discuss the important findings and how therapy can help women work with their partners to break the association they have made that sexuality equals pain, while accepting the condition and not allowing it to define them.
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Senior Research Reporter
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