Postpartum sexual function; the importance of the levator ani muscle
International Urogynecology Journal , Volume 31 - Issue 11 p. 2261- 2267
Introduction and hypothesis Pelvic floor muscle function plays an important role in female sexual functioning. Smaller genital hiatal dimensions have been associated with sexual dysfunction, mainly dyspareunia. On the other hand, trauma of the levator ani muscle sustained during childbirth is associated with increased genital hiatus, which potentially can affect sexual functioning by causing vaginal laxity. This study aims to determine the association between levator hiatal dimensions and female sexual dysfunction after first vaginal delivery. Methods This is a secondary analysis of a prospective observational study. Two hundred four women who had a first, spontaneous vaginal delivery at term between 2012 and 2015 were recruited at a minimum of 6 months postpartum. Thirteen pregnant women were excluded. We analyzed the association of total PISQ-12 score, as well as individual sexual complaints (desire, arousal, orgasm and dyspareunia), with levator hiatal dimensions at rest, with maximum Valsalva and during pelvic floor muscle contraction as measured by 4D transperineal ultrasound. Statistical analysis was performed using linear regression analysis and Mann-Whitney U test. Results One hundred ninety-one women were evaluated at a median of 11 months postpartum. There was no significant association between total PISQ-12 score and levator hiatal dimensions. Looking at individual sexual complaints, women with dyspareunia had significantly smaller levator hiatal area and anterior-posterior diameter on maximum Valsalva. By using multivariate logistic regression analysis however we found dyspareunia was not independently associated with levator hiatal dimensions. Conclusions After first vaginal delivery sexual dysfunction is not associated with levator hiatal dimensions as measured by 4D transperineal ultrasound.