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July 1979

Observations on Vaginismus in Irish Women

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, St Patrick's Hospital, Dublin. Dr O'Sullivan is now with the Regina Mental Health Clinic, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1979;36(7):824-826. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1979.01780070102012

• This article describes a group of 23 Irish women with vaginismus. This figure represents 42% of the total female referrals to the author, and is quite high when compared with other reports. The type of treatment before referral, and the characteristics of the patients, tend to confirm the author's diagnosis, which was made only after vaginal examination. Social and cultural factors unique to Ireland are believed to be of importance in the clinical presentation of this form of sexual dysfunction. A number of differences are seen when women with vaginismus are compared with those who complain of orgasmic dysfunction. These differences relate to childhood experiences, their perception of their marriage, and their sexual dysfunction. The success rate, number of sessions required for treatment, and recovery rate at follow-up are described for vaginismus. All women with this condition who persisted with treatment recovered, whereas those described as failures stopped within three visits. The author believes that the therapeutic claims of sex therapists in recent years must be viewed critically, as selfselection seems to be an important influence on prognosis.