Vaginismus is a condition when the vagina is unable to engage in any form of the vagina penetration caused by the muscle response. Historically vaginismus has been considered as a psychosomatic problem. Today, a number of researches provide more detailed analysis of this problem that includes such elements as the clarification of diagnosis, etiological, prognostic peculiarities and measures of vaginismus treatment.
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The Vaginal Penetration Cognition Questionnaire (VPCQ) (Klaassen and Kuile, 2009) includes 40 items scored on 7-poin scale. Analysis of those items indicated five subscales such as control cognitions, catastrophic and pain cognitions, self-image conditions, positive cognitions and cognitions of the genital incompatibility. This scale demonstrates the differences between women with sexual disorder and without.
The women with vaginismus provide the lower level of the penetration control and high level of painful process and negative self-perception. VPCQ can be considered as a perspective measure that should improve the assessment of the sexual pain disorder.
Golombok Rust Inventory of Sexual Satisfaction – Female (GRISS-F) determinated the sexual pain disorder measures as an instruments with a single or a few items (Rust and Golombok, 1986). The researchers used such instruments as the Sexual Experience Scales and the Intimate Bodily Contact Scales.
The questionnaire of the research consisted of 28 items that covers the different sexual dysfunctions. Therefore, the researchers could get the total results of the problems of the sexual functioning, using the concrete answers.
According to the article, this score contained 12 subscale groups, including “erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, female anorgasmia, vaginismus, infrequency of sexual contact, sexual noncommunication, male and female dissatisfaction, male and female nonsensuality, and male and female avoidance of sex” (Rust and Golombok, 1986). Thus, the researchers investigated the presence of sexual dysfunction exploring the samples.
Kuile, Bulte, Weijenborg, Beekman, Melles, and Onghena (2009) provide the analysis of the treatment process, emphasizing the phobic emergence as a cause of sexual pain disorder. Reframing the treatment of vaginismus as a “vaginal penetration phobia”, the researchers suggest therapist-aided exposure as a basement of treatment of this disease. Their approach of investigation included three 2-hours exposure sessions during one week.
This process was self-controlled; therefore the participant provided the vagina penetration experiments by herself. This method is different than other experiments when woman had to follow the instructions of the behavior therapist which motivated her to show the anxiety-provoking penetration stimuli. Besides, the therapist-aided exposure controlled a waiting-list of study (N=50) of patients with lifelong vaginismus.
This investigatment provided the following results: after the exposure week, 80% of the participants were able to have intercourse (nine of the ten women), while the women in the waiting-list demonstrated the absolute absence of recovery (Kuile, Bulte, Weijenborg, Beekman, Melles, and Onghena, 2009). However, after 4 weeks of studying the percentage of responders increased to 96%.
Considering vaginismus as a phobic disorder the researchers developed the new perspectives of this problem treatment. Such instruments provide more promising statistics comparing with the previous investigations. The answer of this research is that vaginismus is a psychosomatic phobic problem that can be successfully treated. This experimental study contained both independent and dependent variables.
The independent variables were caused by the absence of the therapist factors and due to the self-controlled character of the process. The dependent variables contained in the quality of marital relations, age factors and the duration and level of the vaginismus in every particular situation.
Klaassen, M. & Kuile, M. (2009). Development and initial validation of the vaginal penetration cognition questionnaire (VPCQ) in a sample of women with vaginismus and Dyspareunia. Journal of Sex Medicine, 6, 1617-1627. doi:10.111/j.1743-6109.2009.0127.x
Kuile, M. Bulte, I., Weijenborg, P. T. M., Beckman, A., Melles, R. & Onghena, P. (2009). Therapist-aided exposure for women with lifelong vaginismus: a replicated single-case design. Journal of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, 77(1), 149-159.
Rust, J., & Golombok, S. (1986). The GRISS: A psychometric instrument for the assessment of sexual dysfunction. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 15 (2), 157-165.