Alexithymia and vaginismus: A preliminary correlation perspective

Department of Clinical, Applied and Biotechnological Sciences, School of Sexology, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy.
International journal of impotence research (Impact Factor: 1.76). 03/2013; 25(3). DOI: 10.1038/ijir.2013.5
Source: PubMed


The aim of this study was to measure the prevalence of alexithymia and emotional dysregulation in women with vaginismus not associated with other organic or psychopathological disorders. The study involved the psychometric assessment of 41 patients with vaginismus and 100 healthy women, all of childbearing age. Alexithymia was evaluated by TAS-20 (Toronto Alexithymia Scale). Sexual function was assessed by FSFI (Female Sexual Function Index). In patients with vaginismus, the primary diagnosis of dyspareunia was excluded and an expert psychologist evaluated patients and controls according to DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: 4th edition) criteria to exclude mental disorders. Over half (51.1%) of the patients with vaginismus were classified as alexithymic or borderline (alexithymic trend), compared with just 18% of the control group. In addition, there was a significant difference in the TAS-20 total scores between the two groups (P<0.0001). In terms of relative risk, women suffering from vaginismus thus have a 3.8 times higher probability of showing alexithymia than do healthy women. Vaginismus is a complex syndrome and alexithymia is far from being its only characteristic. However, we found a significant correlation between vaginismus and alexithymia. In theory, alexithymia could thus be a risk factor for vaginismus, although future studies are required to demonstrate any chain of causation between these two conditions.International Journal of Impotence Research advance online publication, 7 March 2013; doi:10.1038/ijir.2013.5.

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