This chapter discusses the all too common problem of sex-related pain in women. Pain is a complex perceptive experience, involving biologic as well as psychologic and relational meanings. They become increasingly important with the chronicity of pain. Neurologists are quite aware of the painful aspect of many neurologic disorders, but lifelong and acquired genital and sexual pain is still neglected in a consistent percentage of women. One reason is the view - still held by many - that psychologic factors play the most important role in sex-related pain complaints. The consequences of diagnostic delay can be dramatic. Persisting tissue inflammation induces pain to change from acute and "nociceptive," which indicates a "friendly signal," alerting one to ongoing tissue damage, to chronic and "neuropathic," a disease per se. Whilst the primary disease is progressing and neuroinflammation becomes a prominent feature, affected women have to bear years of pain and distress, huge quantifiable and non-quantifiable costs, and a progressive deterioration of personal and relational health and happiness. The scenario is even more dramatic when pain complicates an already disabling disease. The main aspects considered in this chapter include neuroinflammation as a key feature of pain; genital and sexual pain as part of neurologic diseases; and genital and sexual pain syndrome (dyspareunia and vaginismus) as primary problems, and their pelvic comorbidities (bladder pain syndrome, endometriosis, irritable bowel syndrome, provoked vestibulodynia/vulvodynia). Finally, we discuss iatrogenic pain, i.e., genital and sexual pain caused by ill-conceived medical, surgical, pharmacologic or radiologic therapeutic interventions.
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