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MUHC investigators search for the root of sexual pain in women


A multidisciplinary team consisting of researchers from McGill/MUHC and the CHUM have been awarded a grant of nearly $700,000 by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to continue their groundbreaking research on pain suffered by some women during sexual intercourse. The new funding will allow the team, consisting of psychologists, gynecologists, physical therapists and statistician/epidemiologists, to root-out the cause of a condition experienced recurrently by at least 15% of Canadian women.

The research team will focus specifically on two main areas of study: dyspareunia (pain during sexual intercourse) and vaginismus (vaginal spasm preventing intercourse). These conditions, which were previously considered sexual dysfunctions, are now increasingly understood as pain disorders as a result of previous research by this team. "Approaching this problem in the context of pain is a more accurate and positive step," says the study’s lead researcher Dr. Irv Binik, Director of the Sex and Couple Therapy Service at the MUHC and Professor of Psychology at McGill University. "It opens the door to new therapeutic possibilities including cognitive-behavioral pain management, physical therapy, surgery and alternate pain medication, which will hopefully result in fewer women suffering in silence."

The new CIHR grant will allow the team to initiate research with groups of women that suffer from genital pain associated with menopause-one of the most common forms of dyspareunia. The research concerning vaginismus will focus on the role of fear in sexual intercourse-the major roadblock to therapeutic efforts. "Women suffering from vaginismus seem to avoid and fear vaginal penetration more than women suffering from other genital pain disorders," noted Dr. Binik. "A better understanding of the specific features of both vaginismus and dyspareunia will undoubtedly lead to more appropriate and effective treatments."

Patients who wish to be involved in this study, or wish to learn more about sexual pain in women should contact:

Natalie Cartwright
Research Coordinator
Tel: 398-5323

The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) is a comprehensive academic health institution with an international reputation for excellence in clinical programs, research and teaching. The MUHC is a merger of five teaching hospitals affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University--the Montreal Children’s, Montreal General, Royal Victoria, and Montreal Neurological Hospitals, as well as the Montreal Chest Institute. Building on the tradition of medical leadership of the founding hospitals, the goal of the MUHC is to provide patient care based on the most advanced knowledge in the health care field, and to contribute to the development of new knowledge.

Ian Popple | MUHC
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