Author: University of Bristol
Author Contact: bristol.ac.uk
Published: 22nd Aug 2022 - Updated: 5th Jan 2023
Peer-Reviewed Publication: Yes
Additional References: LGBT and Pregnancy Publications
Summary: Study addressed whether caesarean sections maintain sexual wellbeing compared to vaginal delivery, due to reduced risk of tearing and maintenance of vaginal tone.
Cesarean section, also known as C-section or cesarean delivery, is the surgical procedure by which one or more babies are delivered through an incision in the mother's abdomen, often performed because vaginal delivery would put the baby or mother at risk. Reasons for the operation include obstructed labor, twin pregnancy, high blood pressure in the mother, breech birth, and problems with the placenta or umbilical cord.
Mode of delivery and maternal, sexual wellbeing: A longitudinal study.
Sexual enjoyment in the years following childbirth is unaffected by how the baby is delivered, according to new research. The study, published in BJOG, was led by researchers at the University of Bristol and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and used data from Children of the 90s - a longitudinal study of over 14,000 individuals.
The study sought to address whether cesarean sections maintain sexual wellbeing compared to vaginal delivery due to the reduced risk of tearing and the maintenance of vaginal tone. Findings from previous studies suggest little difference in sexual outcomes between women who had cesarean sections or vaginal delivery by six months following birth. However, few studies had ventured into the post-birth period long-term.
This latest study investigated the relationship between mode of delivery and sexual wellbeing outcomes, including sexual enjoyment, sexual frequency, and sex-related pain, at a range of timepoints post-birth.
Researchers assessed women in different delivery groups up to 18 years following birth and found no difference between cesarean section and vaginal delivery for sexual enjoyment or frequency at any timepoint after childbirth (known as postpartum). However, it was shown that those who delivered via cesarean section were more likely to report sex-related pain at 11 years postpartum, specifically pain in the vagina during sex.
The study did not have access to measures of prenatal sex-related pain for each mother; therefore, it is unknown from this study whether cesarean section causes sex-related pain, as suggested by the findings, or whether prenatal sex-related pain predicts both cesarean section and postnatal sex-related pain.
Flo Martin, Wellcome Trust Ph.D. Student in Epidemiology in Bristol Medical School: Population Health Sciences (PHS) at the University of Bristol, and lead study author, said:
"Rates of cesarean section have been rising over the last 20 years due to many contributing factors, and importantly, it has been suggested that cesarean section maintains sexual wellbeing compared to vaginal delivery. A whole range of maternal and fetal outcomes following cesarean section must be investigated, including sexual wellbeing, to inform decision-making both pre- and postnatally appropriately."
"This research provides expectant mothers, as well as women who have given birth, with essential information and demonstrates that there was no difference in sexual enjoyment or sexual frequency at any timepoint postpartum between women who gave birth via cesarean section and those who delivered vaginally. It also suggests that a cesarean section may not help protect against sexual dysfunction, as previously thought, where sex-related pain was higher among women who gave birth via cesarean section more than ten years postpartum."
Lynn Molloy, Chief Operating Officer at Children of the 90s, said:
"It is through longitudinal studies like Children of the 90s that researchers can provide evidence to help expectant mothers make well-informed decisions about their preferred choice of delivery in uncomplicated pregnancies and to support women postnatally if the choice was not an option for them in the delivery suite."
Sexual Enjoyment After Childbirth Not Altered by Delivery Method | University of Bristol (bristol.ac.uk). SexualDiversity.org makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith. Content may have been edited for style, clarity or length.
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• (APA): University of Bristol. (2022, August 22). Sexual Enjoyment After Childbirth Not Altered by Delivery Method. SexualDiversity.org. Retrieved September 23, 2023 from www.sexualdiversity.org/sexuality/health/pregnancy/1005.php
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