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UBC Theses and Dissertations

When sex hurts : couples' experiences of female sexual pain Hansen, Natalie Mayumi


The experience of pain during or after sex is a common and serious phenomenon among women (Laumann, Paik, & Rosen, 1999). Although there is a growing field of literature on this phenomenon, very little of it has shed light on what female sexual pain means for a couple. To meet this need in the literature, the present study was undertaken. The following research question was posed: What are couples' experiences of recurrent physical pain on the part of the female partner during or immediately following sexual contact? In order to best answer the research question, a narrative method was employed. Eight Canadian, heterosexual participants (four men and four women) shared their stories of female sexual pain in individual narrative interviews. The participants chose pseudonyms to be referred by in the narratives. Holistic and thematic analyses (Lieblich, Tuval-Mashiach, & Silber, 1998) revealed contextually different narratives, and across-narrative themes representing common experiences. These experiences were: Adapting to a different sexual relationship, shifts in sexual self-view, challenges to creating a family, difficulties with dealing with medical professionals, and coping. The findings have implications for professionals who work with women and couples experiencing female sexual pain, as well as for future research in this area.

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