The diagnosis of provoked vestibulodynia: steps and roadblocks in a long journey

in Sexual and Relationship Therapy; 28, 4; 324-335; Sexual and Relationship Therapy
by Routledge; 2013
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Abstract

Provoked vestibulodynia (PVD) is estimated to afflict up to 8% of women in the USA. In previous research, women with PVD report embarking on a lengthy path before obtaining a diagnosis. This paper explores how year symptoms began, and how demographic characteristics and assertiveness may affect timeliness of a diagnosis. The experience of receiving a diagnosis is described. Eighty-five participants were recruited through a Listserv and Facebook support group and answered an online survey. Dependent measures included number of appointments before receiving a diagnosis and length of time (months) after symptoms began before receiving a diagnosis. An open-ended question was analyzed. Thirty-five percent attended more than 15 appointments and 37% reported more than 36 months between first symptoms and receiving a diagnosis. The length of time to a diagnosis correlated with amount of education and year symptoms began. Four themes emerged in thematic analyses: necessary self-research, medical care frustrations, empathic health care appreciation, and a negative emotional experience along their journey. Women who began experiencing symptoms after 2005 were diagnosed in less time than those experiencing symptoms earlier, indicating an improvement in diagnostic procedures. However, women continue to have to describe having to visit many physicians before receiving a diagnosis.


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