Postnatal depression and sexual health after childbirth

Morof, D; Barrett, G; Peacock, J; Victor, CR; Manyonda, I; (2003) Postnatal depression and sexual health after childbirth. Obstetrics and gynecology, 102 (6). pp. 1318-1325. ISSN 0029-7844 DOI:

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OBJECTIVE: To investigate the sexual health experiences of depressed and nondepressed postnatal women within a 6-month postnatal period. METHODS: This cross-sectional study used obstetric records and postal survey 6 months after delivery from a cohort of primiparous women (n = 796) delivering a live- born infant at St. George's NHS Trust, London. Women self- reported sexual problems and sexual behaviors and completed the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. RESULTS: Of the 796 parturients, 484 responded (61%), and 468 completed the survey questions on depression and sexual health (97%). Of the latter, 57 (12%) fit the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale criteria. Comparing the depressed with nondepressed women, resumption of sexual activity occurred with 77% versus 90% (P =.003), and the median number of specific sexual problems reported was two versus one, respectively (P =.009). CONCLUSION: Sexual health problems were common after childbirth in both depressed and nondepressed women; however, depressed women were less likely to have resumed intercourse at 6 months and more likely to report sexual health problems. Given the frequency of sexual health problems, postnatal sexual morbidity cannot be assumed to be simply a product of the depressed mental state.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Fecal incontinence, vaginal delivery, pregnancy, postpartum, prevalence, morbidity, community, behavior, parity, scale, Adolescent, Adult, Cross-Sectional Studies, Depression, psychology, Female, Human, Puerperal Disorders, psychology, Questionnaires, Sexual Behavior
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Public Health and Policy > Dept of Social and Environmental Health Research
PubMed ID: 14662221
Web of Science ID: 186811800017


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