Women’s Experiences of Vaginismus and its Treatment: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
thesisposted on 08.10.2013, 12:35 by Sarah Louise Johnston
Female sexual pain is a common problem affecting women worldwide yet remains a poorly researched area of women’s sexual health. Dyspareunia and vaginismus are two types of sexual pain disorder each having psychological and physical health consequences for women and their partners. Part 1: A literature review of the qualitative research literature exploring women’s experiences of sexual pain disorders and their treatment was conducted adopting a narrative synthesis approach. Searches of psychological and medical electronic databases highlighted the paucity of research exploring women’s experiences of sexual pain disorders. Ten studies met the inclusion criteria for the review. The type of qualitative method and quality varied. Findings highlighted the complexity of women’s experiences of sexual pain. Positive experiences of treatment identified alternative benefits of treatment in addition to the traditional outcome of vaginal penetration and penetration without pain. Existing literature has focussed on dyspareunia, and further research is needed on vaginismus. Part 2: The research study used an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) of women’s experiences of vaginismus. Three women were interviewed about their experiences of vaginismus and the treatment they received. Interview transcripts were analysed using IPA. The findings identified the complexity of experiencing vaginismus, the struggle the women faced when trying to make sense of their vaginismus and the wider impact of these experiences on their identity. The findings highlight the value of psychological therapy with this client group and of the need to raise awareness amongst primary care professionals whom women with vaginismus are likely to consult in the first instance. Part 3: A critical appraisal of the research process is presented with focus on the experience of conducting qualitative research as a trainee clinical psychologist. A discussion of the findings is presented in the context of critical reflections on both the strengths and limitations of the study.