Treatment of female sexual pain disorders: a systematic review

Miznah Al-Abbadey, Christina Liossi, Natasha Curran, Daniel Schoth, Cynthia Graham

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Sexual pain disorders affect women's sexual and reproductive health and are poorly understood. Although many treatments have been evaluated, there is no one "gold standard" treatment. The aim of this systematic review was to investigate what treatments for female sexual pain have been evaluated in clinical studies and their effectiveness. The search strategy resulted in 65 papers included in this review. The articles were divided into the following categories: medical treatments; surgical treatments; physical therapies; psychological therapies; comparative treatment studies; and miscellaneous and combined treatments. Topical and systemic medical treatments have generally been found to lead to improvements in, but not complete relief of, pain, and side effects are quite common. Surgical procedures have demonstrated very high success rates, although there has been variability in complete relief of pain after surgery, which suggests less invasive treatments should be considered first. Physical therapies and psychological therapies have been shown to be promising treatments, supporting a biopsychosocial approach to sexual pain disorders. Although most of the interventions described have been reported as effective, many women still experience pain. A multidisciplinary team with active patient involvement may be needed to optimize treatment outcome.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-142
Number of pages44
JournalJournal of Sex & Marital Therapy
Issue number2
Early online date7 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


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