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Does Spontaneous Genital Tract Trauma Impact Postpartum Sexual Function?

Authors

  • Rebecca G. Rogers MD,

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    • Rebecca G. Rogers, MD, is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Urology and the Division Director of Urogynecology at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center School of Medicine. In addition, she is the director of the Fellowship in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery at UNM. Her work has focused on female pelvic floor disorders, in particular sexual function and pelvic floor changes that occur after childbirth.

  • Noelle Borders CNM, MSN,

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    • Noelle Borders, CNM, MSN, is a staff nurse-midwife with University Midwifery Associates, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, NM.

  • Lawrence M. Leeman MD, MPH,

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    • Lawrence M. Leeman, MD, MPH, is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Family and Community Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center School of Medicine. He is also director of family practice maternal and child health and co-medical director of the mother-baby unit at the University of New Mexico Hospital, Albuquerque, NM.

  • Leah L. Albers CNM, DrPH

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    • Leah L. Albers, CNM, DrPH, FACNM, FAAN, is a Professor at the College of Nursing and in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, NM.


Noelle Borders, CNM, MSN, Midwifery Division, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1 University of New Mexico, MSC10 5580, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001. E-mail: aborders@salud.unm.edu

Abstract

Changes in sexual function are common in postpartum women. In this comparative, descriptive study, a prospective cohort of midwifery patients consented to documentation of genital trauma at birth and assessment of sexual function at 3 months postpartum. The impact of spontaneous genital trauma on postpartum sexual function was the focus of the study. Trauma was categorized into minor trauma (no trauma or first-degree perineal or other trauma that was not sutured) or major trauma (second-, third-, or fourth-degree lacerations or any trauma that required suturing). Women who underwent episiotomy or operative delivery were excluded. Fifty-eight percent (326/565) of enrolled women gave sexual function data; of those, 276 (85%) reported sexual activity since delivery. Seventy percent (193) of women sustained minor trauma and 30% (83) sustained major trauma. Sexually active women completed the Intimate Relationship Scale (IRS), a 12-item questionnaire validated as a measure of postpartum sexual function. Both trauma groups were equally likely to be sexually active. Total IRS scores did not differ between trauma groups nor did complaints of dyspareunia. However, for two items, significant differences were demonstrated: women with major trauma reported less desire to be held, touched, and stroked by their partner than women with minor trauma, and women who required perineal suturing reported lower IRS scores than women who did not require suturing.

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