Cesarean Section and Postnatal Sexual Health

Birth. 2005 Dec;32(4):306-11. doi: 10.1111/j.0730-7659.2005.00388.x.


Background: Cesarean delivery avoids perineal trauma and has therefore often been assumed to protect sexual function after childbirth. We sought to examine this assumption by using data from a study of women's sexual health after childbirth to assess whether women who underwent cesarean section experienced better sexual health in the postnatal period than women with vaginal births.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted of 796 primiparous women, employing data from obstetric records and a postal survey 6 months after delivery.

Results: Any protective effect of cesarean section on sexual function was limited to the early postnatal period (0-3 months), primarily to dyspareunia-related symptoms. At 6 months the differences in dyspareunia-related symptoms, sexual response-related symptoms, and postcoital problems were much reduced or reversed, and none reached statistical significance.

Conclusions: Outcomes from this study provide no basis for advocating cesarean section as a way to protect women's sexual function after childbirth.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delivery, Obstetric*
  • Dyspareunia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • London / epidemiology
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires