Dalhousie professor Dr. Natalie Rosen is offering new hope to women who suffer chronic genital pain during sex.
A surprisingly common condition impacting up to 16 per cent of all women, it received little attention until the recent opening of the new Couples and Sexual Health (CaSH) laboratory at Dalhousie University.
Too often women with genital pain suffer in silence, says Dr. Rosen, leaving women and couples vulnerable to negative impacts. That’s why she and her team are developing new supportive approaches to help women and their partners cope.
Couples are actively engaged in two different kinds of studies at the lab. In one study, daily diaries are used to help understand the links between sexual motivation, pain during intercourse and impacts on sexuality and other interpersonal and psychological factors. A second compares the effectiveness of a psychological treatment – Cognitive Behavioural Couple Therapy (CBCT) – to a standard medical treatment, the use of lidocaine, a local anesthetic.
“I want to empower women and couples to better manage these pain conditions and reduce negative impacts on their relationships and sexuality,” says Dr. Rosen. “I believe my research is directly influencing the development of better treatment and better access to treatment for women and couples.”
The CaSH lab, equipped with top-flight leading instrumentation, has been supported by the Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation and the IWK Health Centre. It includes confidential participant workstations; clinical interviewing and therapy space; equipment for efficient data collection and management; and collaborative space for researchers and graduate students.
The first of its kind east of Montreal, the facility provides a rich training resource for student researchers in psychology, gynaecology, obstetrics, nursing and anesthesia and supports collaborations with the IWK, Queen’s University, and Mount Allison University
The project extends Dalhousie’s international initiatives studying the efficient and effective treatment of pain.