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    Mode of childbirth not linked to sexual function



    According to a recent study in Obstetrics and Gynecology, long-term lack of desire and lower sexual function in women may not be related to mode of delivery.

    Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco looked at 1084 women with a mean age of 56.3 (±8.7) years. Forty-three percent (n = 568) were of racial or ethnic minority: 214 African American, 171 Asian, and 183 Hispanic. Eighty-eight percent (n = 963) were multiparous. Participants completed a questionnaire about their sexual desire, activity, satisfaction, and problems. Information from archived records for each participant included parity, mode of delivery, and other parturition-related factors. Variables controlled for included age, partner status, race or ethnicity, general health, and diabetes.

    Low sexual desire was reported by 56% (n = 601) of the women and 53% (n = 577) reported that sexual activity occurred on a less-than-monthly basis. Forty-three percent (n = 399) reported low overall sexual satisfaction.

    Greater parity was not connected with an increased risk of reporting low sexual desire (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1.08, CI, 0.96–1.21 per birth), low sexual satisfaction (adjusted OR 0.71, CI, 0.34–1.47 per birth), and less-than-monthly sexual activity (adjusted OR 1.05, CI, 0.93–1.20 per birth).

    Women who had at least 1 cesarean delivery were no more likely to have low desire (adjusted OR 0.71, CI, 0.34–1.47), less-than-monthly sexual activity (adjusted OR 0.71, CI, 0.34–1.47), or low sexual satisfaction (adjusted OR 0.57, CI, 0.26-1.22) than those who had a history of vaginal delivery only. A history of operative-assisted delivery was associated with low desire (adjusted OR 1.38, CI, 1.04–1.83).

    The researchers concluded that parity and mode of delivery did not have a significant impact on women’s long-term sexual desire, activity, or satisfaction.


    Fehniger JE, Brown JS, Creasman JM, et al. Childbirth and female sexual function later in life. Obstet Gynecol. 2013;122(5):988–997.

    Miranda Hester
    Ms. Hester is Content Specialist with Contemporary OB/GYN and Contemporary Pediatrics.


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