Effects of perineal trauma on postpartum sexual function

Authors

  • Gulay Rathfisch,

    1. Gulay Rathfisch PhD RN Assistant Professor Department of Obstetric and Gynecological Nursing, Florence Nightingale School of Nursing, Istanbul University, Turkey
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  • Birsen Kucuk Dikencik,

    1. Birsen Kucuk Dikencik MSc RN Research Associate Institute of Health Sciences, Istanbul University, Turkey
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  • Nezihe Kizilkaya Beji,

    1. Nezihe Kizilkaya Beji PhD RN Professor Department of Obstetric and Gynecological Nursing, Florence Nightingale School of Nursing, Istanbul University, Turkey
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  • Nadir Comert,

    1. Nadir Comert MD Physician Department of Obstetric and Gynecological, The Ministry of Health Istanbul Bakirkoy Maternity and Child Health Teaching Hospital, Turkey
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  • Ali Ismet Tekirdag,

    1. Ali Ismet Tekirdag MD Physician Department of Obstetric and Gynecological, The Ministry of Health Istanbul Bakirkoy Maternity and Child Health Teaching Hospital, Turkey
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  • Ateş Kadioglu

    1. Ateş Kadioglu PhD Professor Department of Urology, Istanbul Faculty of Medicine, Istanbul University, Turkey
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G. Rathfisch:
e-mail: gulumyil@yahoo.com; gulumyildirim@hotmail.com

Abstract

rathfisch g., dikencik b.k., kizilkaya beji n., comert n., tekirdag a.i. & kadioglu a. (2010) Effects of perineal trauma on postpartum sexual function. Journal of Advanced Nursing66(12), 2640–2649.

Abstract

Aim.  This article is a report of a study of the extent of postpartum sexual dysfunction associated with perineal trauma.

Background.  Sexual health problems are common in the postpartum period but despite this it is a topic that lacks professional recognition. After delivery, many women experience reduced sexual desire and reduced vaginal lubrication, as well as weaker and shorter orgasms.

Methods.  Women giving birth in the study hospital between 2005 and 2006 and meeting the inclusion criteria were studied, i.e. women at low-risk who expected vaginal delivery at over 38 weeks’ gestation with a single foetus in the vertex position. One hundred and sixty-five women were invited for postpartum check-ups 3 months later and 55 attended. A detailed gynaecologic examination was carried out and the perineum was carefully inspected by the same physician. Questionnaires were administered and 20-minute face-to-face interviews were carried out to compare the women’s sexual lives before pregnancy and after giving birth.

Findings.  Compared to women with intact perineum, those who had both episiotomy and second degree perineal tears, had lower levels of libido, orgasm, and sexual satisfaction and more pain during intercourse. The presence of at least one sexual problem (reduced sexual desire, reduced vaginal arousal, reduced vaginal lubrication, reduced frequency of orgasm, dissatisfaction with sexual life and dyspareunia) was statistically significant more common after birth.

Conclusion.  Limiting perineal trauma during delivery is important for the resumption of sexual intercourse after childbirth. Routine episiotomy and fundal pressure should be avoided to prevent perineal trauma.

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