Women's sexual health after childbirth

G Barrett*, E Pendry, J Peacock, C Victor, R Thakar, I Manyonda

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

377 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: To investigate the impact of childbirth on the sexual health of primiparous women and identify factors associated with dyspareunia.

Design: Cross-sectional study using obstetric records, and postal survey six months after delivery.

Setting: Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, St. George's Hospital, London.

Population: All primiparous women (n = 796) delivered of a live birth in a six month period.

Methods: Quantitative analysis of obstetric survey data.

Main outcome measures: Self reported sexual behaviour and sexual problems (e.g. vaginal dryness, painful penetration, pain during sexual intercourse, pain on orgasm, vaginal tightness, vaginal looseness, bleeeding/irritation after sex, and loss of sexual desire), consultation for postnatal sexual problems.

Results: Of the 484 respondents (61% response rate), 89% had resumed sexual activity within six months of the birth. Sexual morbidity increased significantly after the birth: in the first three months after delivery 83% of women experienced sexual problems, declining to 64% at six months, although not reaching pre-pregnancy levels of 38%. Dyspareunia in the first three months after pregnancy was, after adjustment, significantly associated with vaginal deliveries (P = 0.01) and previous experience of dyspareunia (P = 0.03). At six months the association with type of delivery was not significant (P = 0.4); only experience of dyspareunia before pregnancy (P < 0.0001) and current breastfeeding were significant (P = 0.0006). Only 15% of women who had a postnatal sexual problem reported discussing it with a health professional.

Conclusions: Sexual health problems were very common after childbirth, suggesting potentially high levels of unmet need.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberN/A
Pages (from-to)186-195
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Volume107
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2000

Keywords

  • PERINEAL MANAGEMENT TRIAL
  • 1ST POSTNATAL YEAR
  • FECAL INCONTINENCE
  • VAGINAL DELIVERY
  • PELVIC FLOOR
  • PREVALENCE
  • PARITY
  • DEPRESSION
  • EPISIOTOMY
  • PREGNANCY

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