Tears in the vagina, perineum, sphincter ani, and rectum and first sexual intercourse after childbirth: a nationwide follow-up

Birth. 2008 Jun;35(2):98-106. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-536X.2008.00222.x.


Background: The first sexual intercourse after childbirth may be challenging for women, especially if the birth resulted in injuries in the genital area. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether or not tears in the vagina, perineum, sphincter ani, or rectum hindered sexual intercourse during the year after childbirth.

Methods: We obtained information from 2,490 women in a population-based cohort identified at antenatal care. Information about first sexual intercourse was collected by means of a questionnaire sent 1 year after birth to the women and about women's tears reported in the population-based Swedish Medical Birth Register.

Results: Adjusted relative risks with 95 percent confidence intervals for not having had sexual intercourse within 3 and 6 months, respectively, after childbirth were 1.5 (95% CI 1.2-1.8) and 1.6 (95% CI 1.2-2.3) for tears in the vagina, 1.4 (95% CI 1.1-1.6) and 1.5 (95% CI 1.1-2.1) for tears in the perineum, and 2.1 (95% CI 1.4-3.1) and 2.2 (95% CI 1.1-4.6) for tears in the sphincter ani and rectum. No statistically significant differences were found at 1-year follow-up. No associations between episiotomy and delay in resuming intercourse were found after adjusting the relative risks.

Conclusions: Tears in the vagina, perineum, sphincter ani, or rectum are associated with a delay in women's resumption of sexual intercourse 6 months after childbirth in Sweden.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anal Canal / injuries
  • Breast Feeding / adverse effects
  • Coitus / physiology*
  • Coitus / psychology
  • Episiotomy / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obstetric Labor Complications / physiopathology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Orgasm / physiology
  • Parity / physiology
  • Parturition
  • Perineum / injuries*
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Rectum / injuries
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vagina / injuries*