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Loneliness, Depression, and Painful Intercourse

Arch Sex Behav; 2018 Aug; Stout, Meints, et al

Findings from a recent investigation are consistent with previous studies highlighting that pain during intercourse is related to depressive symptoms in young women. The current study adds to that literature and suggests that more frequent and severe pain during intercourse leads to more loneliness, which then leads to increased depressive symptoms. A total of 104 female participants (85.6% white, 74.03% partnered, aged 20.9 [3.01] years) completed an online survey including demographic information, PROMIS Vaginal Discomfort Measure, PROMIS Depression Measure, and Revised UCLA Loneliness Scale. Researchers found:

  • Pain during intercourse, loneliness, and depressive symptoms were all significantly correlated.
  • Results of the mediation analysis indicated that loneliness was a significant mediator of the relationship between pain during intercourse and depressive symptoms.
  • After accounting for loneliness, pain during intercourse was not significantly related to depressive symptoms, suggesting that loneliness fully mediated the relationship between pain during intercourse and depressive symptoms.


Stout ME, Meints SM, Hirsh AT. Loneliness mediates the relationship between pain during intercourse and depressive symptoms among young women. Arch Sex Behav. 2018;47(6):1687-1696. doi:10.1007/s10508-017-1138-7.

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