Merck Manual

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Pregnancy-Related and Postpartum Sexual Dysfunction

By

Allison Conn

, MD, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children's Pavilion for Women;


Kelly R. Hodges

, MD, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children's Pavilion for Women

Reviewed/Revised Jul 2023
View PATIENT EDUCATION

Pregnancy can introduce multiple factors, physical and psychological, that increase risk of sexual dysfunction, which can occur intrapartum or postpartum.

Risk factors for pregnancy-related sexual dysfunction include the following:

  • Obstetric trauma: Cesarean or instrumented delivery, episiotomy, or perineal tears increase risk of genito-pelvic pain and related difficulty with sexual interest and arousal.

  • Breastfeeding: Vaginal dryness can contribute to genito-pelvic pain/penetration disorder.

  • Psychological and social stressors: Changes in family roles and relationships, sleep disruption, neonatal health issues, and/or weight gain can increase stress.

  • Postpartum depression: Depression increases the risk of sexual dysfunction.

  • Intimate partner violence: Pregnancy increases the risk of intimate partner violence, which increases risk of sexual dysfunction.

Sexual dysfunction, regardless of type, that predates pregnancy tends to predict sexual dysfunction after pregnancy.

View PATIENT EDUCATION
NOTE: This is the Professional Version. CONSUMERS: View Consumer Version
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