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Why continue to have vaginal intercourse despite pain? Reasons and associated factors among young Swedish women
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Gender and medicine . Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine.
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Gender and medicine . Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine.
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Gender and medicine . Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

CONTEXT: Pain during vaginal intercourse (VIC) is a frequent complaint among young Swedish women, of whom a considerable proportion continues to have VIC despite pain.

METHODS: In 2008, a sample of 1566 female high school students (aged 18-22 years) completed a questionnaire concerning their experiences and attitudes toward body and sexuality. In the present study we examined the prevalence of women who despite pain continue to have VIC, omit telling the partner, and feign enjoyment; as well as the reasons for such behavior.  Chi-square tests and binary logistic regression were used to examine data.

RESULTS: Forty-seven percent (207/576) of those women who reported pain during VIC continued to have VIC despite pain. The most common reasons were that they did not want to destroy sex for or hurt the partner by interrupting VIC. Feigning enjoyment and omit telling the partner about their pain were reported by 22% and 33% respectively. Continuing to have VIC despite pain was associated with feelings of being inferior to the partner during sex, dissatisfaction with their own sex lives and feigning enjoyment while having pain.

CONCLUSION: Pain during VIC is reported by every third young Swedish woman and almost half of those still continue to have VIC. The major reason given is noteworthy --- prioritizing the partner’s enjoyment before their own --- and demonstrates that young women who continue to have VIC despite pain take a subordinated position in sexual interactions.

National Category
Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-21175OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-21175DiVA: diva2:240829
Available from: 2009-09-30 Created: 2009-09-29 Last updated: 2010-01-14Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Painful Ideals: Young Swedish women´s ideal sexual situations and experiences of pain during vaginal intercourse
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Painful Ideals: Young Swedish women´s ideal sexual situations and experiences of pain during vaginal intercourse
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Smärtsamma Ideal : Unga svenska kvinnors ideala sexuella situationer och erfarenheter av smärta vid samlag
Abstract [en]

Many young women today are concerned about their sexual health; an increasing number of them consult gynaecologists, youth centres (YCs) and general practitioners with vulvar problems such as painful sensations associated with vaginal intercourse (VIC). It is known that some women continue to have VIC despite pain. Theoretically, repeated painful VIC might elicit vaginistic reactions, which may increase the pain and induce vicious circles. Since many clinicians and researchers nowadays notice that pain during VIC often starts at young age, it is important to investigate how pain during VIC starts and is maintained in younger populations. The overall aim of this thesis was to investigate young women’s experiences of ideal sexual situations and pain during VIC.

Women aged 13-22 years participated in our studies, which used both quantitative (study I and IV) and qualitative (study II and III) methods. For paper I, a questionnaire was developed and used in a YC sample (n=300); informants for paper II were selected from that sample to participate in qualitative interviews (n=16). Another qualitative interview study for paper III with a complimentary research question was conducted in a different YC sample (n=14). For paper IV, a questionnaire was developed based on the results from study I, II and III to test the hypotheses derived from study II in a sample of female high school students (n=1566).

The findings revealed that 65% of the women reported pain related to first VIC. Among those who reported VIC during the previous month, 49% had experienced pain and/or discomfort during VIC during that same period (paper I). In paper IV, 47% of the women reported experience of pain and/or discomfort during VIC, and among those, 47% continued to have VIC, 22% feigned enjoyment, and 33% omitted telling the partner about their pain. In paper II, the women’s reasons for continuing to have VIC despite pain were: striving to reach their ideal image of a woman, characterized as always willing to have VIC; being perceptive of their partner’s sexual needs; and being able to satisfy their partner. In paper IV the hypotheses derived from study II were confirmed and showed, for example that a significantly higher proportion of women who continue to have VIC despite pain than women who did not had difficulty refusing sex when the partner wants it, felt inferior to the partner during sex, regarded the partner’s satisfaction as more important than their own, felt dissatisfaction with their sex life, and feigned enjoyment despite pain. In a multivariate model, continuing to have VIC despite pain was associated with feelings of being inferior to the partner during sex (adjusted OR 1.82; CI 1.10-3.02), dissatisfaction with their own sex lives (adjusted OR 1.76; CI 1.14-2.72) and feigning enjoyment while having pain (adjusted OR 7.45; CI 4.37-12.69).

The major reason for continuing to have VIC was that the partner’s enjoyment was prioritized higher than their own (paper IV). In paper III, we found that women without pain during VIC also felt pressure from social norms and demands and had experienced partners “driving their own race”. However, they managed to some extent to resist these unequal gender norms because of their urge to experience pleasure.

In conclusion, pain during VIC is a common complaint among young Swedish women, and a high proportion of them continue having VIC despite pain. The women’s notion of prioritizing the partners´ enjoyment before their own illustrates that unequal gender regimes affect young women’s (hetero)sexuality negatively.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2009. 74 p.
Series
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 1145
Keyword
Adolescent, Coital pain, Constant comparative analysis/method, Dyspareunia, Gender, Sexual intercourse, Sexual situation, Vaginal intercourse, Young women
National Category
Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-20277 (URN)978-91-7393-561-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2009-09-25, Berzeliussalen, Campus US, Linköpings Universitet, Linköping, 09:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2009-10-06 Created: 2009-09-01 Last updated: 2012-02-03Bibliographically approved

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