Journal article

Fear avoidance and pain catastrophizing among women with sexual pain


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Publication Details

Author list: Thomtén, Johanna

Publication year: 2014

Start page: 571

End page: 581

Number of pages: 11

ISSN: 1745-5057



Aim: Among women under 30 years of age, around 20% report recurrent sexual pain. Although the amount of studies investigating sexual pain has increased, little is known about the role of psychosocial factors. The present study used the fear-avoidance model from musculoskeletal pain as a theoretical frame of reference, and examined fear-avoidance beliefs, avoidance behaviors, pain catastrophizing and symptoms of anxiety and depression among women (18-35 years) reporting sexual pain. Methods: The study was cross-sectional, based on a sample of 133 women, where 37 women (27.8%) reported sexual pain often or always. Results: Women with pain reported higher levels of fear avoidance and pain catastrophizing as well as depression and anxiety, with fear avoidance and pain catastrophizing reaching similar levels as has been reported in other long-term pain populations. The level of anxiety and depression did not reach clinical levels. Fear-avoidance beliefs and pain catastrophizing were related to sexual pain and to pain intensity in the regression analysis. Conclusion: The data are in line with, and give further support to, a fear-avoidance perspective in female sexual pain, emphasizing the role of fear and avoidance of pain/sex.


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