Dyspareunia and childbirth: A prospective cohort study

E. A. McDonald, D. Gartland, Rhonda Small, Stephanie Brown

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48 Citations (Scopus)


Objective To investigate the relationship between mode of delivery, perineal trauma and dyspareunia. Design Prospective cohort study. Setting Six maternity hospitals in Melbourne, Australia. Sample A total of 1507 nulliparous women recruited in the first and second trimesters of pregnancy. Method Data from baseline and postnatal questionnaires (3, 6, 12 and 18 months) were analysed using univariable and multivariable logistic regression. Main outcome measure Study-designed self-report measure of dyspareunia at 18 months postpartum. Results In all, 1244/1507 (83%) women completed the baseline and all four postpartum questionnaires; 1211/1237 (98%) had resumed vaginal intercourse by 18 months postpartum, with 289/1211 (24%) women reporting dyspareunia. Compared with women who had a spontaneous vaginal delivery with an intact perineum or unsutured tear, women who had an emergency caesarean section (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 2.41, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 1.4-4.0; P = 0.001), vacuum extraction (aOR 2.28, 95% CI 1.3-4.1; P = 0.005) or elective caesarean section (aOR 1.71, 95% CI 0.9-3.2; P = 0.087) had increased odds of reporting dyspareunia at 18 months postpartum, adjusting for maternal age and other potential confounders. Conclusions Obstetric intervention is associated with persisting dyspareunia. Greater recognition and increased understanding of the roles of mode of delivery and perineal trauma in contributing to postpartum maternal morbidities, and ways to prevent postpartum dyspareunia where possible, are warranted.

Number of pages8
JournalBJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015


  • Cohort studies
  • delivery obstetric
  • dyspareunia
  • pain
  • perineum
  • postpartum period
  • prospective studies
  • sexual intercourse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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