Sexual function following sphincteroplasty for women with third- and fourth-degree perineal tears

Christina E. Lewicky, Carl Valentin, Theodore J. Saclarides*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE. Our goal was to evaluate sexual function following anal sphincteroplasty in women with third and fourth degree perineal tears secondary to birth trauma. METHODS: Our study was performed using a retrospective cohort design in a group of women (n = 32) who had experienced either third-degree or fourth-degree perineal tears during labor and then elected to undergo sphincteroplasty for fecal incontinence. We surveyed our patients with a questionnaire that was developed by the Obstetrics and Gynecology Epidemiology Center at Harvard Medical School and was previously used to survey women with obstetric injuries. Self-reported presphincteroplasty and postsphincteroplasty degree of physical sensation, sexual satisfaction, and likelihood of achieving orgasm were measured. Also measured were libido, partner satisfaction, and presence of emotional or physical inability to engage in sexual behavior. RESULTS: Our results reaffirmed the findings of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Epidemiology Center's study that sexual function is compromised in women with third- and fourth-degree perineal tears. For our patients with this degree of perineal tearing who underwent sphincteroplasty after primary repair, our survey showed consistent improvement in several parameters of sexual function. After sphincteroplasty, physical sensation was higher /much higher in 40 percent, sexual satisfaction was better/much better in 33-3 percent, and 28.6 percent of the patients were more/much more likely to reach orgasm. Libido was improved in 37.5 percent of the study population, and 20 percent reported increased partner satisfaction. Before surgery, 23.5 percent of patients were physically and 31.2 percent emotionally unable to participate in sexual activity because of fear of incontinence or intimacy; after surgery only 6.3 percent were physically unable and 0 percent were emotionally unable to engage in sexual activity. The response rate for our study was 18/32 (56 percent). CONCLUSIONS: Anal sphincteroplasty for the treatment of incontinence in women with third- and fourth-degree perineal tears improves physical and emotional sexual well-being and function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1650-1654
Number of pages5
JournalDiseases of the colon and rectum
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2004


  • Anal sphincteroplasty
  • Obstetrical trauma
  • Sexual function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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