Merck Manual

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Pregnancy-Related Sexual Dysfunction


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

Last review/revision Mar 2021 | Modified Sep 2022
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Pregnancy can introduce multiple factors, physical and psychologic, 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 genitopelvic pain and related difficulty with sexual interest and arousal.

  • Breastfeeding: Vaginal dryness can contribute to genitopelvic pain/penetration disorder.

  • Psychologic 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.

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