Researchers and clinicians alike widely acknowledge the inherently interpersonal nature of women’s sexual dysfunctions given that both partners impact and are impacted by these difficulties.
Yet theoretical models for understanding the role of interpersonal factors in women’s sexual dysfunctions are severely lacking and have the potential to guide future research and inform more effective interventions. The most widely studied sexual dysfunction in women that has espoused a dyadic approach by including both members of affected couples is genito-pelvic pain/penetration disorder (GPPPD). In this article we use the example of GPPPD to introduce a novel interpersonal emotion regulation model of women’s sexual dysfunction.
We first review current knowledge regarding distal and proximal interpersonal factors in GPPPD. Then, we describe our theoretical model and consider relevant pain and sex-related research on emotion regulation processes—emotional awareness, expression, and experience—in the context of GPPPD, including sexual function, satisfaction, and distress. Next, we review how existing theories from the fields of chronic pain and sex and relationships research have informed our model and how our model further builds on them. Finally, we discuss the implications of our model and its applications, including to other sexual dysfunctions in women.
Rosen, N. and Bergeron, S. (2018). Genito-pelvic pain throught a dyadic lens: moving toward an interpersonal emotion regulation model of women’s sexual dysfunction.The Journal of Sex Research. DOI: 10.1080/00224499.2018.1513987.
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