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BJOG. 2008 Jan;115(2):234-8. Epub 2007 Nov 12.

Long-term effects of anal sphincter rupture during vaginal delivery: faecal incontinence and sexual complaints.

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  • 1Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Ikazia Hospital, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.



To determine the long-term effects of obstetric anal sphincter rupture on the frequency of faecal incontinence and sexual complaints.


Retrospective case-control study.


Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Ikazia Hospital, The Netherlands.


All 171 women operated for anal sphincter rupture between 1971 and 1990 and 171 controls matched for parity and date of delivery.


Postal questionnaires regarding faecal incontinence were sent in 1996 and 2005 to all cases and controls with questions regarding sexual complaints added to the questionnaire in 2005.


Anorectal complaints defined as any form of faecal incontinence including faecal urgency and faecal soiling. Sexual complaints defined as dyspareunia or faecal incontinence during intercourse.


Sixty-one percent of the women responded to both questionnaires. Anorectal complaints were reported by 38% of case versus 16% of controls in 1996 (risk difference: 0.22, 95% CI 0.10-0.34) and by 61% of cases versus 22% of controls in 2005 (risk difference: 0.41, 95% CI 0.29-0.53). In contrast to the control group, the increase of anorectal complaints in the case group between 1996 and 2005 was highly significant (P < 0.0001). Postmenopausal state was not associated with an increased risk for faecal incontinence. Dyspareunia was reported by 29% of cases versus 13% of controls (P = 0.01). Faecal incontinence during intercourse was reported by 13% of cases versus 1% of controls (P = 0.005).


Obstetric anal sphincter rupture is an important risk factor for sexual complaints and for faecal incontinence increasing with age irrespective of menopausal state.

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