Inter-relationships between sexual abuse, female sexual function and childbirth

Ruth Gottfried, Rachel Lev-Wiesel, Mordechai Hallak, Nessia Lang-Franco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: the present quantitative longitudinal study focuses on the inter-relationships between sexual abuse, distressed female sexual function and childbirth. Additional variables studied include depression, mode of delivery, subjective birth experience and traumatic life events other than sexual abuse. Methods: data collection for the study was extended across three time periods: during the third trimester of pregnancy and approximately one and six months postpartum. Self-reported questionnaire responses of 300 women from two medical centres in Israel, as well as hospital records regarding their mode of childbirth, were included in the data analysis. Measures incorporated in the study included the Female Sexual Distress Scale-Revised, the Beck Depression Inventory and modified versions of the Traumatic Events Questionnaire, the Sexual Experiences Survey, and the Subjective Birth Experience Questionnaire. Results: findings demonstrated that women with a lifetime history of sexual abuse compared to women without such history, are at an increased risk for distressed antenatal and postpartum female sexual function (Odds Ratio OR=2.66 and OR=2.26, respectively); and postpartum depression (OR=2.36). Antenatal depression was likewise shown to be significantly associated with antenatal and postpartum distressed female sexual function (OR=4.32 and OR=10.4, respectively), as well as with a more negatively experienced childbirth (T-Ratio, T=1.98, p<0.05). Moreover, distressed antenatal female sexual function was found to increase the risk for a more negatively experienced childbirth (T=2.04, p<0.05), and caesarean childbirth (OR=3.34). Conclusions: the current study enriches the understanding of the inter-relationships between the antenatal, childbirth and postpartum variables studied herein; and has implications for evidence based practice in both preventative and intervention efforts. Recommendations for future research are presented and discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1087-1095
Number of pages9
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Childbirth
  • Depression
  • Female sexual function
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexual abuse
  • Subjective birth experience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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