Painful Sex Common After Giving Birth

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March 20, 2007 — Painful sex may affect nearly a third of women in thefirst year after they give birth, a new study suggests.

The researchers included Rebecca Knibb, PhD, senior lecturer at England’sUniversity of Derby.

They mailed questionnaires to 2,100 women in England who had given birthwithin the past year. The questionnaires were returned by 482 women (23% ofthose contacted).

The questionnaire covered various postnatal health problems, includingincontinence, painful sex (dyspareunia), and pelvic pain.

Of the 482 women who returned the completed survey, 30% reported painful sexduring the previous month.

The study also shows that, overall, 87% of the 482 moms who returned thecompleted survey reported at least one postnatal health problem during theprevious month.

The most commonly reported problem was “sexual morbidity,” whichincluded painful sex, lack of lubrication or sensation during intercourse, andincontinence during intercourse.

Women who had given birth with the help of forceps were the most likely toreport the postnatal conditions covered in the survey. Those who had givenbirth by cesarean section were the least likely to report such problems.

Study’s Limits

The study was limited by the fact that more than three-quarters of themothers whom the researchers tried to contact didn’t complete and return thequestionnaire.

The relatively few mothers who participated may not represent all new moms.In fact, mothers with postnatal problems may have been more likely to completethe questionnaire.

The low response rate also prevented the researchers from gauging whetherpostnatal problems are constant or rare.

On the questionnaire, the women were asked to note how frequently theyexperienced each postnatal problem, with possible responses ranging from”rarely” to “all of the time.”

Too few women provided that information, so the researchers couldn’t analyzewhether moms experienced postnatal problems consistently or occasionally in theyear after giving birth.

The study appears in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.

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