Number of Pages
Julie Ann Vingers
Introduction: Many postpartum individuals experience sexual dysfunction. The purpose of this review was to identify which pelvic floor muscle training interventions might have the most impact on sexual function during the postpartum period. Methods: A literature search of CINAHL, PubMed, Scopus, and ScienceDirect, along with citation searching and archive hand searching, was conducted to identify relevant articles published between 2013–2023. Strict inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied to the search process, and the included studies were screened via Covidence systematic review software, a web-based tool. The Johns Hopkins Research Evidence Appraisal Tool was used to assess study quality, further limiting the search to original studies of Level I–III quality. Results: The search identified 16 publications with a total of 2,477 participants that met the criteria and were included in this review. Included studies comprised 12 randomized control trials, three quasi-experimental studies, and one open-label trial, all with prospective designs. Findings across these studies reflected three consistent themes: (a) sexual function improves over time regardless of the interventions implemented, (b) home-based pelvic floor muscle exercises may enhance sexual self-efficacy and elevate the healing process, and (c) professionally guided pelvic floor muscle exercises may be more effective at improving sexual function than individual efforts. Discussion: Peripartum pelvic floor interventions have the most potential to improve sexual function when performed under professional guidance. However, at which point during the peripartum period these exercises should be implemented or how adherence and self-efficacy can best be encouraged is unclear. The heterogeneity of study designs and muscle training protocols are a significant limitation. More randomized control trials with consistent intervention plans and timing during the perinatal period should be performed.
Johnson, S. T., & Mackenzie, C. M. (2023). Peripartum Pelvic Floor Interventions and Postpartum Female Sexual Function: An Integrative Review [Masterʼs thesis, Bethel University]. Spark Repository. https://spark.bethel.edu/etd/955