Factors affecting for women’s sexual functioning after childbirth-pilot study
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Department of Obstetrical and Gynecological Nursing, Institute of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health Sciences with the Institute of Maritime and Tropical Medicine, Medical University of Gdansk, Gdansk, Poland
Publication date: 2023-10-24
Corresponding author
Julia Burdecka   

Department of Obstetrical and Gynecological Nursing, Institute of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health Sciences with the Institute of Maritime and Tropical Medicine, Medical University of Gdansk, Gdansk, Poland
Eur J Midwifery 2023;7(Supplement 1):A89
Although postpartum sexual problems are common, the impact of the factors affecting on sexual life is still un-clear and the understanding of the influencing factors is limited. Most women do not resume sexual activity for 6-8 weeks after labour. However, within three months of the delivery, 80-93% of new mothers resume intercourse1. During this time, two out of three women experience at least one problem connected to sexual functioning, including decreased libido, difficulty achieving orgasm, vaginal dryness or dyspareunia2. Decreased sexual activity in the postnatal period may result from reduced interest in sex, post-partum pain, tender breasts, and leaking milk3-5. Women identify numerous factors affecting intimate and sexual relationships, including role incompatibility, extreme tiredness, lack of sleep, and changing body image issues leading to changes in libido5–7. What is more, new mothers are concerned with their body image and perceived physical attractiveness declines after childbirth5,8. The aim of this pilot study was to investigate factors affecting for sexual life the effects of different infant feeding methods on female sexual functioning after childbirth. Female sexual dysfunction (FSD) is a common and often underestimated problem with seri-ous effects on women's quality of life9. This phenomenon is understudied especially in the context of Polish women in the postpartum period.

Material and Methods:
A pilot, cross-sectional control study was conducted in a group of 253 women in the postpartum period. The study followed the STROBE guidelines for cross-sectional control analysis. The study design included a questionnaire for characterizing sociodemographic, medical history and breastfeeding variables and the PL-FSFI (Female Sexual Function Index). All statistical analysis was performed on dedicated software. The level of significance was taken to p <0.05.

There was statistically significant difference between the groups that practiced different types of breastfeeding. The problem with lubrication and lack of sexual desire was the most prevalent dysfunction, regardless of the infant feeding method. Significantly lower scores were found in the exclusive breastfeeding group compared with the formula-feeding group for the pain subgroup. Out of all the PL-FSFI assessing domains, the highest average score for the whole group was presented for satisfaction and the lowest score for lubrication. Our findings indicate that exclusively breastfeeding women are more likely to develop sexual problems. There was statistically significant difference between the groups declaring different educatiolnal level, type of using contraceptive methods and type of labour. No differences were found for sexual functioning in relation to the mother's age, number of previous births, weeks of gestational completion and chronic diseases of the mother.

Extensive and professional counseling is needed for couples about postpartum sexuality and the factors that affect it, such as breastfeeding, in order to maintain sexual health and promote long-term breastfeeding. In further studies, we also decided to include the Body Esteem Scale and the SES Self-Esteem Scale of M. Rosenberg.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
This research received no external funding.
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