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"From hell to healed" - A qualitative study on women's experience of recovery, relationships and sexuality after severe obstetric perineal injury
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, Obstetrics and Gynecology. Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Nursing.
2022 (English)In: Sexual & Reproductive HealthCare, ISSN 1877-5756, E-ISSN 1877-5764, Vol. 33, article id 100736Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

OBJECTIVE: Few studies have investigated women's experiences of daily life after childbirth complicated by obstetric anal sphincter injury (OASI). The aim of the present study was to explore experiences related to recovery, sexual function, relationships and coping strategies among women affected by OASI.

METHODS: In-depth interviews were conducted using a purposive sample of 11 women affected by OASI. Women were interviewed 1-2 years after their first childbirth. Inductive qualitative content analysis was applied.

RESULTS: The theme "From hell to healed" illustrates women's experiences of recovery, relationships and sexual function after OASI. Three categories addressing women's perceptions emerged: "Challenged to the core", "At the mercy of the care provider" and "For better or for worse". Support from partners and family and comprehensive care were important elements for the experiences of coping and healing from OASI. Elements that negatively influenced women's experiences were the pain and physical symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, normalization of symptoms by heath care providers, and unrealistic expectations about how this period in life should be experienced.

CONCLUSION: OASI greatly affects women's experiences of their first years with their newborn child, relationships, social context and sexuality. For some women, OASI negatively affects everyday life for a long period after childbirth. However, others heal and cope quite quickly. Health care professionals need to identify and pay attention to women with persisting problems after OASI so that they can be directed to the right level of care.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2022. Vol. 33, article id 100736
Keywords [en]
Experiences, Obstetric anal sphincter injury, Qualitative, Relations, Sexual function
National Category
Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine Nursing
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-197704DOI: 10.1016/j.srhc.2022.100736ISI: 000807216300001PubMedID: 35640528Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85131063310OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-197704DiVA, id: diva2:1680193
Available from: 2022-07-04 Created: 2022-07-04 Last updated: 2023-08-11Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. To tear and to heal: pelvic floor dysfunction and childbirth
Open this publication in new window or tab >>To tear and to heal: pelvic floor dysfunction and childbirth
2023 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Att brista och att läka : bäckenbotten efter förlossning
Abstract [en]

Background: Up to 80% of women are affected by a perineal laceration after their first vaginal birth. An estimated 40–50% of lacerations involve the perineal muscles, and up to 7% are obstetric anal sphincter injuries (OASI). There is a lack of knowledge about the extent of short-term complications such as pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) following spontaneous or iatrogenic pelvic floor trauma. Women’s experiences of daily life after childbirth complicated by OASI is poorly understood. Three-dimensional endoanal ultrasonography (3D-EAUS) is a welldocumented method for evaluating damage to the anal sphincter in other contexts. Adding ultrasonography to standard clinical examination has revealed injuries previously missed, and research evaluating diagnostic methods for the routine screening of OASI has been called for.

Aim: This thesis aims to evaluate the diagnostics of OASI, determine if the degree of perineal injury or anal sphincter defects after childbirth are associated with pelvic dysfunction, and explore women’s experiences of OASI.Methods Studies I and IV were prospective cohort-studies to evaluate any association between perineal tear or sphincter defect to PFD. Study II was an interview study addressing women’s experiences of OASI by qualitative content analysis. Study III was a cross-sectional study designed to examine the utility of endoanal ultrasound to detect OASI. Participants were clinically examined after birth and 3D-EAUS was performed immediately after giving birth and 3 months postpartum. PFD was evaluated using a web-based questionnaire one year after delivery.

Results: A total of 511 women completed the one-year questionnaire (Study I) and a purposive sample of 11 women were invited to take part in Study II. In Study III, 680 women underwent a clinical examination and 3D-EAUS recording immediately after birth. In Study IV, 239 women who attended all follow-ups were included. PFD was experienced by women with a perineal laceration of any grade, but also those with an intact perineum. Dyspareunia and urinary incontinence were the most common problems. Women with OASI had a higher risk for developing vi symptoms of prolapse, urinary urge incontinence, dyspareunia, and pain as well as experiencing a negative impact on their daily life. Elements that negatively influenced women’s experiences of OASI were pain and symptoms of PFD, normalisation of symptoms by healthcare providers, and unrealistic expectations about this period in life. 3D-EAUS immediately after delivery had poor sensitivity and specificity in detecting clinically diagnosed OASI. Postpartum anal sphincter defects were associated with genital pain and dyspareunia.

Conclusions: OASI is an evident risk factor for pelvic floor dysfunction after childbirth, but symptoms of pelvic floor disorder were found to be common, even in women with mild to moderate perineal laceration. OASI has a negative impact on how a woman experiences relationships, social contact, and sexuality. Using 3D-EAUS in a maternity ward to diagnose OASI is demanding. Staff generally have little experience in 3D-EAUS. There are also difficulties in obtaining good image quality, due to local oedema, bleeding, positioning of the woman, and unintentional movements. These factors all complicate the interpretation of images.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå University, 2023. p. 92
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 2241
Keywords
pelvic floor disorders, endosonography, dyspareunia, perineum, pain, qualitative research, delivery
National Category
Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine
Research subject
Medicine
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-206520 (URN)978-91-7855-997-8 (ISBN)978-91-7855-998-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2023-05-05, Hörsalen, Östersunds sjukhus, Östersund, 09:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Region Jämtland Härjedalen, 8176Region Jämtland Härjedalen, 8266Visare Norr, 2048
Available from: 2023-04-14 Created: 2023-04-10 Last updated: 2023-04-13Bibliographically approved

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Huber, MalinTunón, KatarinaLindqvist, Maria

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