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Attachment style, alexithymia and sexual functioning among pregnant and nonpregnant women

Ciocca, G1; D'Alfonso, A2; Pepè Sciarria, D2; Limoncin, E1; Solano, C1; Attanasio, M1; Niolu, C1; Di Lorenzo, G1; Bianciardi, E1; Siracusano, A1; Carta, G2; Jannini, EA1

1: Dept. of Systems Medicine, Tor Vergata University of Rome, Italy; 2: Dept. of Life, Health and Environmental Sciences, University of L’Aquila, Italy

Objective. We hypothesized significant changes during pregnancy about emotional regulation, relational styles and sexuality. Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess sexuality, alexithymia and attachment styles in pregnant and non-pregnant women.

Materials and Methods. We recruited 91 pregnant women and an age-matched group composed by 81 non-pregnant women among our university gynecological division. Then, we administered a psychometric protocol composed by Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI), Relationship Questionnaire (RQ), Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20). Comparison of mean scores and regression analysis were performed to test our hypotheses.

Results. Pregnant women showed a significant higher score in secure attachment (pregnancy group= 5.72±1.42 vs. no-pregnancy group=4.02±1.91; p<.0001) and significant lower scores in preoccupied (pregnancy group= 2.03±1.57 vs. no-pregnancy group=3.48±2.25; p<.0001) and fearful attachment (pregnancy group= 1.53±1.18 vs. no-pregnancy group=2.86±1.97; p<.0001). Also the levels of alexithymia were significantly lower in pregnant women compared to non-pregnant (pregnancy group= 41.80±11.50 vs. no-pregnancy group=45.64±9.98; p=.02). However lubrication, orgasm, arousal significantly decrease in pregnant women together to FSFI total score (pregnancy group= 21.21±11.21 vs. no-pregnancy group=26.27±7.15; p<.001) while pain increases. Binary regression analysis revealed and further confirmed that secure attachment style positively correlates with pregnancy (B=.617; p<.0001), while fearful attachment style is negatively associated with pregnancy (B=-.586; p=.003).

Conclusions. The most interesting findings of this study regard the attachment and emotional regulation systems in their characterization for pregnant women. We found a surprising decrease of fearful and preoccupied attachment styles in pregnant women compared nonpregnant and an increase of secure attachment style. Also the alexithymia levels significantly decrease in pregnant women. Therefore, we specifically demonstrated that pregnancy is a crucial moment of emotional, relational and intra-psychic changes.

Disclosure:

Work supported by industry: no.

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