Vaginismus (fear of painful vaginal penetration) is common and affected individuals experience difficulties with vaginal intercourse and gynaecological exams, as well as diminished sexual desire, sexual dissatisfaction, and poor sexual self-efficacy. Unfortunately, available psychological treatments are not very effective. However, exposure therapy (insertion of vaginal dilators in the presence of a clinician), is highly effective, but unavailable in Canada. To fill this gap, we are exploring the potential of virtual reality exposure for the treatment of Vaginismus.
Specifically, we are examining the emotional responses of individuals with and without vaginismus to VR sexual videos, and asking participants with Vaginismus their thoughts and feelings about a VR-based treatment for their sexual difficulties to better understand if this option is acceptable and feasible. We hope that findings from this study will be used to develop a novel, VR-based treatment for Vaginismus.
Participants will complete:
1) Telephone/Zoom interview and an external physical exam (no speculum) to determine eligibility
2) Sexuality questionnaires online (day before the lab session)
3) In-lab assessment of self-reported responses to virtual reality (VR) nonsexual and sexual videos
4) Interview with a researcher about thoughts and feelings regarding VR-based treatment
5) Online sexuality questionnaire (2 weeks after lab session)
Who Can Participate? Folks who:
1) are 19+ years of age
2) have normal or corrected-to-normal vision
3) have sufficient English fluency
4) live in or able to travel to the Vancouver area
5) have a vagina
Who Should Not Participate? Folks who:
1) Have vulvar skin conditions (e.g., lichen sclerosis)
2) Are currently pregnant or breastfeeding
Compensation and travel support are provided!
When does this study take place?
Recruitment is ongoing until Fall of 2022.
Where does this study take place?
Gordon & Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre at Vancouver General Hospital
What will happen after this study?
We hope that findings from this study will inform the development of a novel, VR-based treatment for Vaginismus. We will be consulting with individuals across Canada with lived experience of Vaginismus to decide how to best share study findings with health care providers and the public.
This study is a collaboration between the UBC Sexual Health Research and the Brain, Attention, and Reality Laboratory. It is funded by the UBC Health Innovation Fund and the Vancouver Health and Research Institute Innovation and Translational Research Award.
The Principal Investigator is Dr. Lori Brotto, Professor, UBC Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology. @DrLoriBrotto.
Please email the study coordinator, Natalie Brown, at Natalie.firstname.lastname@example.org.