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Postnatal Sexual Problems

According to new research published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, nearly one in three women still experience painful sexual intercourse a year after their baby is born and more than half have at least one sex-related health problem.

UK researchers analyzed the responses from a self-administered questionnaire provided to nearly 500 women at least a year after their most recent birth.

87 percent of the respondents complained of at least one health problem, reports Midwife Amanda Williams.

“Asian women, who made up 15 per cent of the survey, were more likely to complain of health problems than white women, as were women who were older and had larger babies and longer labors.”

Key findings include:

    • The three most common problems reported were sex-related health issues (55 per cent) followed by stress urinary incontinence (54 per cent) and urge urinary incontinence (37 per cent).
    • Painful intercourse was reported by 19 per cent of women who had had caesareans, 34 per cent who had had a normal birth and 36 per cent of women who had an instrument-assisted birth, such as forceps.
    • Sex-related health problems were highest among instrument-assisted births (77 per cent) and lowest among caesarean births (51 per cent), with 64 per cent of women having normal births reporting at least one problem related to sex.
    • Women who had an instrument-assisted delivery also took two weeks longer than woman who had had caesareans and normal births to resume sexual intercourse (ten weeks versus eight) with figures ranging from one week to 52.
    • Forceps deliveries were also associated with higher levels of stress, urge, and continual incontinence.
    • Having an epidural did not lead to an overall increase in health problems and this study does not support previous research that identified increased stress incontinence and frequent urinating as risk factors.
    • Asian women reported greater health problems than white women. Perineal pain was more than two times higher (62 per cent versus 28 per cent) and they experienced much higher levels of continual urinary incontinence (35 per cent versus 20 per cent).
    • However, Afro-Caribbean women displayed similar levels of ill health to white women.

The women surveyed were aged 16 or over and from all ethnic groups. They had had their babies at least 12 months before the survey began and all had a live baby with no congenital abnormalities at the time of the survey.

“Our research has raised a number of issues” says Amanda Williams. “For example, it has highlighted concerns about the long-term health effects resulting from forceps deliveries and the variations in ill health between white and Asian women. Both these areas could benefit from further research.

“It’s also important to point out that while women who had had caesareans reported fewer problems with the health issues covered by this study, this delivery method is associated with other problems that have a negative effect on women’s quality of life, like adhesions and wound infections.

“We believe that our study points to the need for health professionals to provide ongoing support for women who have given birth, focusing on issues such as perineal problems and sensitive health problems.

“This, coupled with greater public awareness of these issues, will hopefully make it easier for women to get help for both short-term and long-term health problems.”

Source: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Postnatal Sexual Problems

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Postnatal Sexual Problems. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 18, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2007/03/20/postnatal-sexual-problems/696.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.