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Int Urogynecol J. 2014 Oct;25(10):1389-98. doi: 10.1007/s00192-014-2331-z. Epub 2014 May 23.

Do women notice the impact of childbirth-related levator trauma on pelvic floor and sexual function? Results of an observational ultrasound study.

Author information

1
School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen's University, 31 George street, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, K7L 3N6, 8st31@queensu.ca.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION AND HYPOTHESIS:

The levator ani is thought to play an important role in sexual function; however, to date little literature has been published on the impact of delivery-related levator trauma on female sexual function. We hypothesised that delivery-related levator trauma has a negative impact on women's reports of pelvic floor and sexual function postpartum.

METHODS:

In 294 primigravid women with a singleton pregnancy, four-dimensional (4D) translabial ultrasound imaging was used to assess delivery-related levator avulsion and levator hiatal over-distension, and postpartum pelvic floor and sexual function was assessed by an in-house validated questionnaire. Associations between questionnaire responses and levator avulsion and hiatal over-distension were investigated using standard linear modelling methods.

RESULTS:

Levator avulsion was diagnosed in 14% of women (42 out of 292; 25 unilateral, 17 bilateral) and was found to be significantly associated with lower scores for the pelvic floor integrity and function domain of the questionnaire (P < 0.0005). Avulsion was associated with lower scores for this domain (no avulsion = 2.78, unilateral avulsion = 2.61, bilateral avulsion = 2.29). This association remained significant after controlling for potential confounders (p = 0.013). Avulsion was not associated with any of the other domains of sexual function and levator hiatal over-distension was not associated with scores for any of the questionnaire domains.

CONCLUSIONS:

The effect of levator avulsion on pelvic floor and sexual function an average of 5.2 months after childbirth seems to be limited to a perception of increased vaginal and pelvic floor muscle laxity, and reduced pelvic floor muscle efficiency. The impact of levator hiatal over-distension on postpartum pelvic floor and sexual function appears to be negligible.

PMID:
24853113
DOI:
10.1007/s00192-014-2331-z
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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