WebMD Medical News
Louise Chang, MD
March 20, 2007 -- Painful sex may affect nearly a third of women in the
first year after they give birth, a new study suggests.
The researchers included Rebecca Knibb, PhD, senior lecturer at England's
University of Derby.
They mailed questionnaires to 2,100 women in England who had given birth
within the past year. The questionnaires were returned by 482 women (23% of
The questionnaire covered various postnatal health problems, including
incontinence, painful sex (dyspareunia), and pelvic pain.
Of the 482 women who returned the completed survey, 30% reported painful sex
during the previous month.
The study also shows that, overall, 87% of the 482 moms who returned the
completed survey reported at least one postnatal health problem during the
The most commonly reported problem was "sexual morbidity," which
included painful sex, lack of lubrication or sensation during intercourse, and
incontinence during intercourse.
Women who had given birth with the help of forceps were the most likely to
report the postnatal conditions covered in the survey. Those who had given
birth by cesarean section were the least likely to report such problems.
The study was limited by the fact that more than three-quarters of the
mothers whom the researchers tried to contact didn't complete and return the
The relatively few mothers who participated may not represent all new moms.
In fact, mothers with postnatal problems may have been more likely to complete
The low response rate also prevented the researchers from gauging whether
postnatal problems are constant or rare.
On the questionnaire, the women were asked to note how frequently they
experienced 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 analyze
whether moms experienced postnatal problems consistently or occasionally in the
year after giving birth.
The study appears in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.
SOURCES: Williams, A. Journal of Clinical Nursing, March 2007; vol
16: pp 549-561. News release, Journal of Clinical Nursing.
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