Predictors of genital pain in young women

Melissa A. Farmer, Cindy M. Meston*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Despite the high prevalence of genital pain in healthy young adult women, limited research has addressed genital pain during intercourse using contemporary models of multidimensional sexual function. The objectives of this study were threefold: (1) to identify differences in sexual functioning in women who experience genital pain compared to pain free women; (2) to identify predictors of sexual functioning in women with and without genital pain; and (3) to identify predictors of sexual satisfaction in women with and without genital pain. Sexually active female undergraduates (n = 651) were administered the Female Sexual Function Index and the Derogatis Sexual Functioning Inventory. We evaluated the sexual factors that impact the sexual function of women with any pain (including high and low pain groups) versus women with no history of pain. Women with genital pain reported greater rates of sexual dysfunction as compared to pain-free women; however, sexual functioning in the high versus low pain groups was distinguished primarily by vaginal lubrication. Women in the high pain group showed negative correlations between domains of sexual satisfaction and genital pain frequency and intensity that were not found in the low pain group. For pain-free women, intercourse played a strong role in sexual satisfaction, whereas non-intercourse sexual behavior was central to sexual satisfaction in women who reported pain. The evaluation of levels of genital pain may provide insight into the mechanisms underlying the impairment of sexual function, sexual behavior, and sexual satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)831-843
Number of pages13
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Dyspareunia
  • Female sexual dysfunction
  • Genital pain
  • Sexual communication
  • Sexual satisfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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