Does distress about the sexual relationship explain why self-esteem tied to one’s sexual relationship is linked to poorer well-being?

A Brief Communication from Maria Glowacka, First Author of this Paper

A recent 8-week study in our lab examined sexual contingent self-worth (sexual CSW) – aka self-esteem that’s dependent on maintaining a successful sexual relationship –in couples coping with provoked vestibulodynia (PVD: recurrent pain triggered by contact to the vaginal entrance). We tested if sexual CSW was linked to poorer well-being and whether greatersexual distress (feelings of worry and frustration about the sexual relationship) explained these associations.

What did we find?

We could only look at sexual CSW and well-being for women with PVD (and not their partners) because only women’s greater sexual CSW was linked to their own greater daily sexual distress.

We found that for women with PVD who had higher sexual CSW, when their sexual distress was higher on days they had sex, they had lower sexual satisfaction and greater anxiety, depressed mood, and pain during sex (compared to their average across all the days that they had sex). Results suggest that daily sexual distress might explain the links between greater sexual CSW and poorer day-to-day well-being in women with PVD.

When women with PVD base their self-esteem on their sexual relationship, they might be more likely to become distressed about this relationship. On days that they engage in sex and have greater sexual distress than they usually do, they might also be less satisfied with their sexual relationship, have more pain if they have vaginal intercourse, and have more anxiety and depressed mood.

For more details, see our upcoming paper:

Glowacka, M., Bergeron, S., Delisle, I., & Rosen, N. O. (revise and resubmit). Sexual distress mediates the associations between sexual contingent self-worth and well-being in women with genito-pelvic pain: A dyadic daily experience study.