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Effects of pregnancy and childbirth on postpartum sexual function: a longitudinal prospective study


This study was conducted to evaluate the effects of pregnancy and childbirth on postpartum sexual function. Nulliparous, English-literate women were enrolled who had presented to the UNC Hospital’s obstetrical practice; these women were 18 years of age and older and at 30–40 weeks’ gestation. Questionnaires were completed regarding sexual function prior to pregnancy, at enrollment, and at 2, 6, 12, and 24 weeks postpartum. Demographic and delivery data were abstracted from the departmental perinatal database. One hundred and fifty women were enrolled. At 6, 12, and 24 weeks postpartum, 57, 82, and 90% of the women had resumed intercourse. At similar postpartum timepoints, approximately 30 and 17% of women reported dyspareunia; less than 5% described the pain as major. At these times, 39, 60, and 61% of women reported orgasm. Orgasmic function was described as similar to that prior to pregnancy or improved by 71, 77, and 83%. Delivery mode and episiotomy were not associated with intercourse resumption or anorgasmia; dyspareunia was only associated with breast-feeding at 12 weeks (RR=3.36, 95% CI=1.77–6.37). Most women resumed painless intercourse by 6 weeks and experienced orgasm by 12 weeks postpartum. Function was described as similar to or improved over that prior to pregnancy.

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Correspondence to AnnaMarie Connolly.

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Connolly, A., Thorp, J. & Pahel, L. Effects of pregnancy and childbirth on postpartum sexual function: a longitudinal prospective study. Int Urogynecol J 16, 263–267 (2005).

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  • Postpartum sexual function
  • Dyspareunia
  • Orgasmic function