The Impact of Childbirth on Sexual Functioning in Women With Episiotomy

Isabel Leal, Sílvia Lourenço, Raquel V. Oliveira, Ana Carvalheira, João Maroco


Objective: To compare the pregnancy period with the postpartum period, and infer if the presence of episiotomy interferes with the experience of female sexuality after childbirth. Method: This is an exploratory and descriptive, quantitative study. A non-probability, convenience sample of 108 women in the first stage (during pregnancy), and of 93 women in the second stage (after birth), was gathered in the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Service of a Portuguese hospital. The Female Sexual Function Index and a socio-demographic/clinical questionnaire were used for data collection. Results: Women that had an episiotomy/episiorrhaphy presented higher mean levels of sexual satisfaction after birth, lower mean levels of sexual desire, sexual arousal, and vaginal lubrication after delivery. Regarding the orgasm, they presented higher mean levels in the postpartum period. Statistical significant differences were found regarding the pain levels, as women with episiotomy presented a significantly higher intensity of pain during sexual intercourse after childbirth than during the pregnancy. Conclusion: The overall sexual function after childbirth did not present significant differences when compared to the pregnancy period. However, there was an exception regarding the pain, which was significantly higher in the postpartum period.


episiotomy; sexual life; sexual function; postpartum