Severe Lacerations May Harm Postpartum Sexual Function


SAVANNAH, GA. — Women who have received lacerations requiring sutures as a result of childbirth might have poorer sexual function post partum than women who did not, according to data from questionnaires completed by 326 postpartum women.

Dr. Rebecca Rogers of the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, presented study results in a poster session at the annual meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Surgeons. She and her colleagues followed 576 low-risk pregnant women who were cared for by midwives between 2005 and 2007. The women's cases were classified as minor or major trauma. Minor trauma was defined as no trauma or first-degree perineal, labial, periurethral, or clitoral lacerations. Major trauma was defined as second-, third-, or fourth-degree lacerations or any trauma requiring suturing. Women who had an episiotomy or who required operative delivery were excluded.

At follow-up, the women were asked if they had been sexually active since the birth. The 326 women who answered yes were asked to complete the Intimate Relationship Scale, a 12-item questionnaire designed to measure postpartum sexual function.

Of these women, 273 reported being sexually active at 3 months post partum. The majority of the women sustained some type of trauma, with only 16% delivering intact. Of those with trauma, most had minor trauma (70%). Women in the two groups differed by parity, length of active pushing, and education. Intimate Relationship Scale scores were not significantly different between women with major and minor trauma—36 vs. 33. However, women requiring sutures had significantly lower scores (mean 31) than did women who did not (mean 35.5) after adjusting for parity, length of pushing, and education.

Dr. Rogers disclosed that she is a speaker and investigator for Pfizer Inc. The meeting was jointly sponsored by the American College of Surgeons.

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