Thursday, May 29, 2008

Challenges Associated with Vulvar Pain Disorder

Together Couples Address Challenges Associated with Vulvar Pain Disorder

Vulvar vestibulitis syndrome (vvs), a vulvar pain disorder, affects approximately 15 percent of women. A new study in the journal Family Process reviews the experiences of couples in which the woman has a diagnosis of vvs and explores coping strategies that aid in the subsequent emotional, relational, and sexual challenges. There is no known cause or decisive treatment.

Researchers including Jennifer J. Connor, PhD, LMFT, Bean Robinson, PhD, LP, LMFT, and Liz Wieling, PhD, LMFT, interviewed thirteen heterosexual couples. The study investigated how both partners developed shared meaning about vvs through their experiences, observations, and conversations with each other.

The study found that both women and men identified their sexual relationship as bearing the largest burden from vvs, highlighting the importance of treating the couple, not just the woman.

Eight respondents reported experiencing tension in their intimate relationship, especially prior to receiving a vvs diagnosis. However, the diagnosis helped remove doubts, distrust, and blame, and helped couples communicate more positively and develop a mutual understanding of the syndrome.

These couples stressed mutual support and acceptance as well as alternatives to intimacy that did not involve vaginal intercourse. All couples adapted their sexual lives to cope with pain, and they developed an emotional bond by going through these experiences together.

The couples’ communication led them to develop a shared sense of meaning about vvs, allowing women to share feelings of guilt and men to develop identities as supportive partners. The researchers found that as men learned more about vvs and how it affected their partner, that knowledge helped them recognize that their partner was not rejecting them personally.

“Encouraging couples to discuss their stories and experiences with medical professionals on their path towards arriving at an accurate diagnosis of vvs can be an important part of therapy,” Connor notes. “We hope our research provides physicians and therapists with useful strategies enabling them to provide interventions that are respectful, supportive, and helpful to couples with vvs.”

Thursday, May 15, 2008



Despite the fact that it has long been a major concern for men, an evidence-based definition for premature ejaculation has not existed until now. In October 2007, the International Society for Sexual Medicine (ISSM) gathered the world’s leading sexual health experts to develop an evidence-based definition of premature ejaculation.

The ISSM has defined premature ejaculation as “a male sexual dysfunction characterized by ejaculation which always or nearly always occurs prior to or within about one minute of vaginal penetration; and, inability to delay ejaculation on all or nearly all vaginal penetrations; and, negative personal consequences, such as distress, bother, frustration and/or the avoidance of sexual intimacy.”

“For something that has such a profound effect on men young and old, there needs to be a definitive measure to diagnose premature ejaculation,” said Ira D. Sharlip, M.D., the study’s main author. “The hope is that more people with these symptoms will understand this is an actual health condition and seek treatment. They no longer need to suffer in silence.”

The ISSM panel of experts agreed that the constructs that are necessary to define PE are: time to ejaculation, inability to delay ejaculation and negative consequences from PE. The panel concluded that the definition could also apply to men with premature ejaculation who engage in sexual activities other than vaginal intercourse, although the definition does not apply to acquired premature ejaculation.

Monday, May 5, 2008

It Might be True That 'Men Marry Their Mothers'

Whether a young man's mother earned a college degree and whether she worked outside the home while he was growing up seems to have an effect years later when he considers his ideal wife, according to a study by University of Iowa sociologist Christine Whelan.

High-achieving men -- those who earn salaries in the top 10 percent for their age and/or have a graduate degree -- are highly likely to marry a woman whose education level mirrors their mom's.

Nearly 80 percent of the high-achieving men whose mothers had college degrees married women with college degrees, and 19 percent of them married women with graduate degrees. Of men whose moms had graduate degrees, 62 percent tied the knot with graduate degree holders, and 27 percent said "I do" to women with college degrees.

Sixty-eight percent of high-achieving men agreed with the statement, "Smart women make better mothers."

"Successful men in their 20s and 30s today are the sons of a pioneering generation of high-achieving career women. Their mothers serve as role models for how a woman can be nurturing and successful at the same time," said Whelan, a visiting assistant professor of sociology in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "One man I interviewed put it like this: 'If your mother is a success, you don't have any ideas of success and family that exclude a woman from working.' This Mother's Day, I think we should thank those moms for leading the way toward gender equality for a younger generation."

Whelan is the author of "Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women" (Simon & Schuster, 2006), the first book to shatter the myth that success and spinsterhood go hand in hand. (Visit for details.)

With UI graduate student Christie Boxer, Whelan continues to analyze data from a Harris Interactive survey of more than 3,700 Americans conducted for her book in January and May 2006. The January survey included a nationally representative group of 1,629 high-achieving men and women ages 25-40. The May survey involved a nationally representative group of 2,073 adult Americans.

The researchers discovered that 72 percent of mothers of high-achieving men worked outside the home after they had children. Among those men, three-quarters agreed or strongly agreed with the statement "Men are more attracted to women who are successful in their careers." Men who grew up with working moms were almost twice as likely to marry a woman who makes $50,000 or more per year.

"These young men saw their mothers as smart women who could choose to work outside the home, and now that they're making decisions about what they want in a wife, it seems that they are choosing similar types of women," Boxer said.

Sixty-two percent of high-achieving single men disagreed with the statement "Women who are stay-at-home parents are better mothers than women who work outside the home." Almost three-quarters of the high-achieving men disagreed with the statement, "It is usually better for everyone involved if the man is the achiever outside the home and the woman takes care of the home and family."

The study reinforces findings from others in the field: "Younger men are much more egalitarian about marriage in general. They grew up with working mothers. Fifty-four million women work and an awful lot of those women are mothers. Their sons aren't looking for 'Leave It to Beaver' in their own house," said researcher Randi Minetor, author of "Breadwinner Wives and the Men They Marry."