Reading Response #5 - Sexual Disorders

Reading Response #5 - Sexual Disorders - 1 I would diagnose...

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1. I would diagnose Clara with a sexual dysfunction disorder. Specifically, Clara has a sexual pain disorder. Because Clara experiences vaginal contractions that are so severe that any kind of vaginal penetration cannot occur (due to the harsh pain of these contractions) Clara would suffer from Vaginismus. In this disorder, the muscles which border the opening of the vagina spasm and contract as a result of penetration or in anticipation of penetration. These muscle contractions evoke a great deal of pain to the individual, and interfere with their sex life. Vaginismus can have both physical and psychological causes. Some physical causes include scars or physical damage resulting from childbirth, surgery, or infection. Very often, Vaginismus results from some fear, aversion, or very negative attitude concerning intercourse or the partner. Vaginismus can be thought of as a method of avoidance; the severe contractions may be a reaction to prevent intercourse. The fears or negative attitudes can cause the severe vaginal spasms experienced by the individual; these fears and attitudes can have a number of origins. First off, fears of intercourse may be biologically based. Hormonal changes may be one such cause. For example, if a women’s estrogen levels begin to drop, vaginal lubrication may decrease as well, and pain may be experienced during intercourse. The individual may then come to fear the pain associated with intercourse, and this fear of pain may precipitate the vaginal contractions. Inefficient arousal may also lead to negative feelings concerning intercourse, and these negative feelings can also precipitate vaginal spasms. Inefficient arousal may stem from biological factors, including side effects of certain prescription drugs (including SSRI’s and antipsychotic drugs). Certain illnesses (such as diabetes) and substances (such as alcohol and marijuana) can also disrupt sexual functioning; the resulting deficits can lead to anxiety or negative attitudes concerning intercourse. Once again, this anxiety can precipitate the contractions. The fears and anxiety concerning intercourse may also be more psychologically based. For example, if the individual is suffering from depression or an anxiety disorder, their level of sexual desire may drop substantially. Once again, this drop in desire may cause an individual to have a negative outlook concerning intercourse, and as such may experience the vaginal contractions associated with Vaginismus. One especially important factor contributing to development of Vaginismus involves how the individual was raised to view sexual intercourse. If (as in the case of Clara) religious upbringing or parenting style causes an individual to view sex as sinful, evil, or repulsing, the individual will most likely fail to develop a strong desire for sexual activity and may even interpret intercourse as frightening. These attitudes towards intercourse can also cause the vaginal spasms. Constant worry about one’s performance during
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This note was uploaded on 09/06/2008 for the course PSYC 360 taught by Professor Borders during the Spring '07 term at USC.

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Reading Response #5 - Sexual Disorders - 1 I would diagnose...

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