Distress about a sexual problem is a necessary part of diagnosing female sexual dysfunction. It is an important way to distinguish between a sexual problem and normal sexual variation and has implications for treatment seeking, motivation for therapy and prognosis. The concept of distress, however, has not been clearly defined and is complex and poorly understood. Furthermore, there has been limited research into distress related to genital pain disorders. This paper explores the concept of distress within the field of vulvodynia research, specifically the distress that results from genital pain. Due to the limited research into distress relating specifically to genital pain this review will contextualise the available literature within the larger context of distress related to other female sexual dysfunctions. The discussion includes the current and future Diagnostic and Statistical Manual definitions for genital pain, as well as general definitions of distress. It also explores distress in the genital pain and general female sexual dysfunction literature and discusses its diagnostic, research and clinical implications.
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