Faculty Presenting at the World Congress on Endometriosis

ABSTRACT TITLE: Dyspareunia Due to Endometriosis: A Qualitative Study of Its Impact on the Couple Relationship

INTRODUCTION: This qualitative study was the first of its kind to investigate the effect that dyspareunia due to endometriosis has on the couple relationship. In many ways, the findings paralleled the literature regarding the impact of other chronic illnesses on a couple relationship. However, this study provided unique information as it relates to endometriosis and dyspareunia due to endometriosis and the impact on both the well partner and the couple. The results of this research are being submitted for oral presentation.

MATERIALS/METHOD: Ten couples, ages 20-42, from the United States and Australia who have had or are currently struggling with dyspareunia due to endometriosis were interviewed in order to gain a greater understanding of the effect of this disease. For seven of the couples, endometriosis was a pre-existing condition to their relationship. Each couple has struggled with the medical community around diagnosis, fertility, and pharmaceutical intervention. The focus of the interview questions was on the effect of dyspareunia, but the results provided a wealth of information on all the effects of endometriosis that these couples have experienced. This presentation will include direct responses from the participants.

RESULTS: The couples discussed the support they have received, the effects the endometriosis has had on the well partner, the impact of endometriosis on their relationship, the impact of dyspareunia on their relationship, and the couple coping skills they felt have been essential to the success of their relationship. The anticipatory fear cycle for both the male and female partner was demonstrated in the sexual relationships of these couples. Pain was an issue that each of the couples discussed as having a major role in their couple relationship.

CONCLUSIONS: These ten couples self-reported their relationships to be happy and stable and as having improved due to the partnerships they had formed in struggling with the symptoms of endometriosis. Ongoing support, relationship talk, and flexibility in their sexual relationship were some of the skills the couples promote. In spite of this, the struggles in their relationship have included loss, both socially and sexually.

REFERENCES: A thorough review of the literature revealed little information on the impact of endometriosis on a couple’s relationship despite the evidence that it is a major factor in a couple with endometriosis’s quality of life. References were drawn from both medical and mental health literature.