Resumption of sex after a second birth: An Australian prospective cohort

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BackgroundFew longitudinal studies have examined women's experiences of sex after childbirth. Much of the advice given to couples about what to expect in relation to sex after childbirth is based on cross-sectional studies.ObjectiveTo investigate timing of resumption of sex after a second birth and assess associations with obstetric factors (method of birth and perineal trauma) and time interval between first and second births.MethodProspective cohort of 1507 nulliparous women recruited before 25 weeks’ gestation in Melbourne, Australia followed up at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months after first births, and 6 and 12 months after second births. Measures include: obstetric factors and resumption of vaginal sex after first and second births.ResultsBy 8 weeks after their second birth, 56% of women had resumed vaginal sex, compared with 65% after their first birth. Women were more likely to resume sex later than 8 weeks postpartum if they had a spontaneous vaginal birth with episiotomy or sutured perineal tear (aOR: 2.21, 95% CI: 1.5–3.2), operative vaginal birth (aOR: 2.60, 95% CI: 1.3–5.3) or cesarean delivery (aOR: 2.15, 95% CI: 1.4–3.3) compared with a vaginal birth with minimal or no perineal trauma. There was no association between timing of resumption of sex and the time interval between births.ConclusionFor almost half of the cohort, sex was not resumed until at least 8 weeks after the second birth. Timing of resumption of sex was influenced by obstetric factors, but not the time interval between births.

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