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The role of anxiety in vaginismus: A case-control study

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Daniel Nettle


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Introduction: Previous research suggests that anxiety may play a large role in the symptoms of vaginismus. Aim: We aimed to (i) determine the degree of self-reported general anxiety in women with vaginismus; and (ii) establish whether general anxiety is a consequence of the condition or a predisposing factor. Main Outcome Measures: Participants reported state and trait anxiety, five-factor personality scores, history of anxiety disorders, and their perceptions of their symptoms and history. Methods: We compared responses of 244 self-identified women with vaginismus with a control group of 101 women using an online questionnaire. Results: The women with vaginismus were higher in trait anxiety and neuroticism, and lower in extraversion, than the controls. There was also a trend toward a greater prevalence of diagnosed anxiety disorders in the vaginismus group. Levels of state anxiety were high among the women with vaginismus, particularly when they felt unsupported by their partners or pressured to cure the condition. Conclusion: Levels of general anxiety are elevated among women with vaginismus and the data suggest that anxiety-proneness may be a predisposing factor for the condition. We conclude that although vaginismus is a multidimensional condition, it may have common predisposing factors with anxiety disorders. © 2009 International Society for Sexual Medicine.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Watts G, Nettle D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Sexual Medicine

Year: 2010

Volume: 7

Issue: 1

Pages: 143-148

ISSN (print): 1743-6095

ISSN (electronic): 1743-6109

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01365.x


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