Exploring barriers and facilitators to women's intention and behavior to seek treatment for distressing sexual problems

  • Many women experience distressing problems with sexual functioning, most commonly in the form of low sexual desire or arousal, difficulties reaching orgasm, or genito-pelvic pain with sexual activity. Although effective treatments are available, more than half of the women who experience distressing sexual problems do not seek professional help. Understanding help-seeking patterns, experiences with treatment providers, and barriers to treatment is crucial to address this underutilization. Examining the role of personal characteristics, sexual problem symptoms, and cognitive factors in explaining the intention to seek treatment can help identify individuals who are most reluctant to seek help. Psychological online interventions are a promising resource to increase the availability of effective treatments. Knowledge about the predictors of women’s intention to use internet-delivered treatments, as well as information about personal preferences regarding their scope, can help tailor them to women's needs. To address these research questions, cross-sectional data of 800 women (\(M_{age}\) = 30.49, range = 18–73) were analyzed. While many women considered clinical psychologists to be the most qualified treatment providers, gynecologists were cited as the most likely first point of contact. Among women not utilizing any treatments, many reported a preference for dealing with a sexual problem on their own as a reason not to seek help. Higher help-seeking intention was related to living in a larger city, experiencing higher sexual distress, experiencing pain or difficulties with vaginal penetration, higher self-stigma. and lower sexual assertiveness. Women who were convinced of the effectiveness of psychological online interventions and who appreciated the benefits of anonymity indicated that they were more likely to use them. Understanding what factors influence women's decisions about whether or not to seek professional help for distressing sexual problems is key to reducing the underutilization of available resources and developing treatments that meet their needs and preferences.

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Author:Julia VeltenORCiDGND, Jürgen MargrafORCiDGND
Parent Title (English):PLoS ONE
Place of publication:San Francisco
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2024/03/11
Date of first Publication:2023/07/18
Publishing Institution:Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universitätsbibliothek
Tag:Open Access Fonds
Issue:7, Article e0288205
First Page:e0288205-1
Last Page:e0288205-22
Article Processing Charge funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and the Open Access Publication Fund of Ruhr-Universität Bochum.
Institutes/Facilities:Forschungs- und Behandlungszentrum für psychische Gesundheit
Dewey Decimal Classification:Philosophie und Psychologie / Psychologie
open_access (DINI-Set):open_access
Licence (English):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY 4.0 - Attribution 4.0 International