WIT researcher publishes guidance for practitioners working with women and couples experiencing vaginismus
A new article ‘Vaginismus: A Biopsychosocial Perspective’ has been published in the journal Sexual and Relationship Therapy by Dr Maria McEvoy, School of Humanities at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), Dr Rosaleen McElvaney, Children's Health Ireland at Connolly, and Dr Rita Glover, Dublin City University.
Vaginismus is the experience of being unable to have sex because a woman’s pelvic muscles involuntarily tighten, preventing penetrative sex. Vaginismus has a profound impact on how a woman feels about herself, her partner and their relationship, but despite its universal prevalence, vaginismus remains under-researched. Current research by a team of researchers at DCU is the first known study in forty years to examine vaginismus in the Irish context. The first paper to be published from the study, ‘Vaginismus: A Biopsychosocial Perspective’ explores various understandings of vaginismus, from medical to psychological to interpersonal and cultural.
One of the predictors of successful treatment for vaginismus is the attribution of the problem to psychological rather than physical causes. In order to fully understand vaginismus, it must be explored at intrapersonal, interpersonal, and cultural levels, however, research into the interpersonal and cultural contributing factors is lacking. Little is known also about the experiences of women and couples who experience vaginismus and attempt to seek help in Ireland.
Biopsychosocial and experiential approach
According to WIT’s Dr Maria McEvoy, Principal Investigator of the project, “Incorporating a biopsychosocial and experiential approach into perspectives on vaginismus could be of benefit to therapists working with individuals or couples who present with vaginismus in their practice.”
A multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of vaginismus is more appropriate to effectively respond to and resolve the complex nature of this distressing sexual difficulty for women and couples in adult intimate relationships. In this paper, some guidance, informed by a fifty year review of the literature to date, is offered to health care practitioners.
Further information on the research and support services can be found at www.vaginismusresearchireland.com