Sexual Health
Laboratory

Sophie Bergeron  Ph.D

News

Did you know that victims of sexual abuse are more likely to experience higher anxiety levels, which could contribute to the emergence of painful intercourse at adolescence?

A recent study conducted in our laboratory examined the relationship between child sexual abuse and pain during sexual intercourse. Although child sexual abuse has been identified as a risk factor for the development of genito-pelvic pain, we still know very little about what could explain this relationship. In this study, we wanted to know whether higher levels of anxiety among victims of child sexual abuse would explain why they are more likely of experiencing painful intercourse. To answer this question, data were gathered from 218 sexually active adolescent girls recruited from seven metropolitan high schools, who completed questionnaires pertaining to anxiety, history of child sexual abuse as well as pain during intercourse.

What did we find?

Results showed that adolescent girls who reported being victims of sexual abuse reported being more anxious, which in turn increased their risk of reporting genito-pelvic pain. Therefore, findings suggest that anxiety may be one of the mechanisms by which child sexual abuse leads to an increased risk of developing pain during intercourse in this population.

Health professionals must be aware that a history of sexual abuse among teenage girls can contribute to the development of pain during sexual intercourse, a condition that can have a significant impact on their developing sexual life. Also, interventions specifically targeting anxiety could be an avenue to help these adolescents cope with this sexual problem.

For more details, we invite you to read the full paper:

Santerre-Baillargeon, M., Vézina-Gagnon, P., Daigneault, I., Landry, T., & Bergeron, S. (2017). Anxiety mediates the relation between childhood sexual abuse and genito-pelvic pain in adolescent girls. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 43(8), 774-785. doi: 10.1080/0092623X.2016.1266539

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