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You may be able to participate if:Woman and babies color clothes.jpg

  1. You are over the age of 20 and under 50
  2. You currently have vaginal pain upon contact (e.g. intercourse, tampon insertion, pelvic exam) after child birth
  3. You are premenopausal and NOT pregnant

Study Overview

  • The study involves undergoing sensory testing and modified gynecological exams
  • Will require 2 visits to UNC over the course of 2 weeks


Each year in the United States approximately 4 million women give birth. In 2008, 32% of live births were by cesarean delivery and 3.9% were by either forceps or vacuum extraction. Maternal morbidity associated with these modes of childbirth is responsible for the subsequent disruption of early parenting, family dynamics and health care costs. One area of morbidity that has remained poorly studied is post partum sexual functioning. While short-term sexual issues including decreased sexual desire and pain with intercourse have been shown to have prevalence rates between 22 and 86%, less is known about long term complications.

An estimated 90% of women resume sexual intercourse within six months after giving birth, however, this may occur within the context of decreased sensation and pain. Continued pain with intercourse is higher for women with perineal lacerations and trauma and in those women who gave birth with the assistance of forceps or vacuum extraction. While it is not difficult to imagine that trauma may lead to subsequent pain, less is understood about how cesarean section can also result in painful intercourse. It is possible that the mechanism involved in painful intercourse in the postpartum period is multi-factorial and requires a classification system to guide treatment. It is the goal of this research to begin to lay the foundation for understanding the mechanisms that mediate the causes of dyspareunia in postpartum women.

The purpose of this research is to further the understanding of post partum dyspareunia in an effort to lessen the impact of maternal morbidity on early parenting, family dynamics and health care costs.