The research team will focus specifically on two main areas of study: dyspareunia (pain during sexual intercourse) and vaginismus (vaginal spasm preventing intercourse). These conditions, which were previously considered sexual dysfunctions, are now increasingly understood as pain disorders as a result of previous research by this team. "Approaching this problem in the context of pain is a more accurate and positive step," says the study's lead researcher Dr. Irv Binik, Director of the Sex and Couple Therapy Service at the MUHC and Professor of Psychology at McGill University. "It opens the door to new therapeutic possibilities including cognitive-behavioral pain management, physical therapy, surgery and alternate pain medication, which will hopefully result in fewer women suffering in silence."
The new CIHR grant will allow the team to initiate research with groups of women that suffer from genital pain associated with menopause--one of the most common forms of dyspareunia. The research concerning vaginismus will focus on the role of fear in sexual intercourse--the major roadblock to therapeutic efforts. "Women suffering from vaginismus seem to avoid and fear vaginal penetration more than women suffering from other genital pain disorders," noted Dr. Binik. "A better understanding of the specific features of both vaginismus and dyspareunia will undoubtedly lead to more appropriate and effective treatments."
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