In the context of genito-pelvic pain, consideration of interpersonal goals is particularly relevant given that couples’ distress is often predicated upon the relational setting. However, relationship goals have not been examined in this population. We investigated (1) the associations between relationship goals and women’s pain during intercourse as well as the sexual, relational, and psychological well-being of women with provoked vestibulodynia (PVD) and their partners and (2) the moderating role of sexual goals in these associations. Women with PVD (N = 134) and their partners completed measures of relationship goals, sexual goals, sexual satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, and depressive symptoms. Women also reported on their average pain intensity during intercourse. Women with stronger relationship approach goals reported more sexual satisfaction. When the partner pursued more relationship approach goals, both women and partners reported more sexual and relationship satisfaction and partners reported less depression. Stronger relationship avoidance goals in the partner were associated with less sexual satisfaction in women. Several significant interactions showed that the combination of relationship and sexual approach goals was associated with greater relationship and sexual satisfaction, and fewer depressive symptoms, whereas the combination of relationship and sexual avoidance goals was related to lower relationship satisfaction as well as to greater pain during intercourse for women. Targeting relationship approach and avoidance goals as well as those goals specific to sexual activity may improve the quality and efficacy of couples-based psychological interventions for PVD.
Archives of Sexual Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 27, 2016
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