Factors affecting womens' sexual function during the first-year after childbirth in Greece (2022)

Type of publication:Conference abstract

Author(s):Haritopoulou E.; Papatheodorou D.; Nitsa E.; Antonakou A.; *Papoutsis D.

Citation:BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Conference: Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists World Congress, RCOG 2022. London United Kingdom. 129(Supplement 1) (pp 204), 2022. Date of Publication: June 2022.

Abstract:Objective: Sexual dysfunction after childbirth has been related to the number of vaginal births, the mode of delivery, and to the severity of perineal trauma. The present cross-sectional study was designed to identify the factors that affect the quality of sexual function during the first year after delivery in Greek women. <Design(s): We constructed an 81-item questionnaire that was posted online via the social media for the time period of February-April 2021. Women residing in Greece who had delivered more than 4 weeks ago but not more than 12 months ago were considered eligible for the study. Method(s): Data that was collected included patients' demographics, and data regarding their labour and childbirth. Information on their sexual life before, during and after pregnancy was also collected and the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) was used to quantify the sexual function of women during the 4 weeks prior to answering the questionnaire (score range:0-36, with a score of 26 or less indicating sexual dysfunction). After data collection was completed statistical analysis was applied. Result(s): In total there were 441 women responding to the questionnaire with a mean age of 32.5+/-4.4 years old. Approximately half of women delivered 6 months ago and 55.2% were first time mothers. The caesarean section rate in the total sample was 47.9%, and only 34.2% had a spontaneous onset vaginal birth. At childbirth, more than 85% of women sustained perineal trauma, of which 39.3% had an episiotomy. During pregnancy 76% of women had sexual intercourse with their partners, with half of them having a frequency of 2-3 times a month. The mean score of the FSFI index in the total sample was 21.8 +/- 10.7. There was a significant correlation of sexual dysfunction postpartum with exclusive breastfeeding, with increasing maternal age, with reduced number of sleeping hours, with the limited support from their family environment, and with the presence of incontinence. Conversely, the increased frequency of sexual intercourse before and during pregnancy was correlated with a higher score of sexual function postpartum. Perineal trauma, a high body mass index, smoking, and the mode of delivery did not seem to affect the sexual function after delivery. Conclusion(s): We have identified factors that seem to modify the sexual function of Greek women postpartum. These factors should be taken in consideration when providing midwifery care to women after birth.

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