AbstractBackground and aimsChronic vulvovaginal pain is strikingly common and has a serious impact on women’s lives. Nevertheless, there are few longitudinal studies focusing on mechanisms involved in the pain development. One area of interest is how women cope with sexual activities and how this affects their pain. In this study, avoidance and endurance coping behaviors were explored as possible mediators of the relation between catastrophizing and pain, cross-sectionally and longitudinally.Methods 251 women (18-35 years old) with vulvovaginal pain were recruited in university settings and filled out questionnaires about their pain, catastrophizing and coping behaviors at two occasions, with five months in between. Multiple mediation models were tested, exploring avoidance and endurance as mediators of the relation between catastrophizing and pain.ResultsThe results showed that avoidance was an influential mediator of the link between catastro¬phizing and pain. Using multiple mediation models we found that although the indirect effects of both avoidance and endurance were significant cross-sectionally, only avoidance was a significant mediator in the combined model exploring associations over time.ConclusionsThis study indicates that the strategies women with vulvovaginal pain use for coping with sexual activities are important for the course of pain. Avoidance and, to a lesser degree, endurance strate¬gies were identified as important mediators of the effects of catastrophizing on pain. When exploring the links over time, only avoidance emerged as a significant mediator.ImplicationsIn this longitudinal study, catastrophizing was linked to vulvovaginal pain, via avoidance and endurance of sexual activities. Hence, targeting catastrophizing early on in treatment, as well as addressing coping, may be important in clinical interventions.
Scandinavian Journal of Pain – de Gruyter
Published: Oct 1, 2017
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