How Young does Vulvo-Vaginal Pain Begin? Prevalence and Characteristics of Dyspareunia in Adolescents
Article first published online: 4 FEB 2009
© 2009 International Society for Sexual Medicine
The Journal of Sexual Medicine
Volume 6, Issue 4, pages 927–935, April 2009
How to Cite
Landry, T. and Bergeron, S. (2009), How Young does Vulvo-Vaginal Pain Begin? Prevalence and Characteristics of Dyspareunia in Adolescents. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 6: 927–935. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2008.01166.x
- Issue published online: 25 MAR 2009
- Article first published online: 4 FEB 2009
- Vulvo-vaginal Pain;
Introduction. Dyspareunia remains under-investigated despite recent population-based studies indicating that its prevalence ranges from 12% to 21% in adult women. Although clinical data suggest that dyspareunia can begin during adolescence, a large-scale epidemiological study has yet to be conducted with this population.
Aims. To determine the prevalence and characteristics of dyspareunia in a large-scale sample of adolescents, in addition to the characteristics of vulvo-vaginal insertion pain in nonsexual contexts.
Methods. With written informed consent, data were obtained from 1,425 girls (12–19-year-olds), from seven metropolitan high schools during regular school hours using a self-report questionnaire.
Main Outcome Measures. Dyspareunia prevalence was evaluated by asking sexually active participants whether or not they regularly (at least 75% of the time) experienced pain during intercourse. Pain duration, context of onset, location, intensity, and pain during tampon insertion and pelvic exams were evaluated.
Results. Results revealed that 20% of sexually active girls (N = 251) reported having regular pain during intercourse for at least 6 months or more. A primary form of pain was reported by 67% of adolescents and significantly more girls with chronic dyspareunia identified the vaginal opening (39%; ) as being their most painful site compared with internal pain sites (18–29%; ) (P = 0.042). Chronic dyspareunia cases reported significantly more pain during first and usual tampon insertion (P = 0.003; P = 0.009) than pain-free controls, while no difference was found between groups regarding pelvic exams (P = 0.086). Experiencing severe pain at first tampon insertion was linked to a fourfold risk of reporting chronic dyspareunia (P = 0.001).
Conclusions. Results mirror prevalence estimates found in population-based studies with adult women and suggest that chronic dyspareunia is a significant sexual health problem in adolescent girls, with pain extending beyond intercourse to nonsexual contexts. Landry T, and Bergeron S. How young does vulvo-vaginal pain begin? Prevalence and characteristics of dyspareunia in adolescents. J Sex Med **;**:**–**.