Surgeon Counseling Regarding Return to Sexual Activity After Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery

Lauren Caldwell, Shunaha Kim-Fine, Danielle D. Antosh, Katherine Husk, Kate V. Meriwether, Jaime B. Long, Christine A. Heisler, Patricia L. Hudson, Svjetlana Lozo, Shilpa Iyer, Rebecca G. Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Importance: Patients highly value surgeon counseling regarding the first sexual encounters after pelvic reconstructive surgery. Objectives: We performed a qualitative analysis of usual surgeon counseling regarding return to sexual activity after surgery for pelvic organ prolapse and/or urinary incontinence. Methods: Participating surgeons provided a written description of their usual patient counseling regarding return to sexual activity after pelvic organ prolapse or urinary incontinence surgery. Counseling narratives were coded for major themes by 2 independent reviewers; disagreements were arbitrated by the research team. Analysis was performed utilizing Dedoose software and continued until thematic saturation was reached. Results: Twenty-two surgeons participated, and thematic saturation was reached. Six major themes were identified: 'Safety of Intercourse,' 'Specific Suggestions,' 'Surgical Sequelae,' 'Patient Control,' 'Partner Related,' 'Changes in Experience,' and 'No Communication.' Nearly all participating surgeons included counseling on the safety of intercourse and reassurance that intercourse would not harm the surgical repair. Specific suggestions included different positions, use of lubrication, vaginal estrogen use, specific products/vendors, alternatives to (vaginal) intercourse, and the importance of foreplay. Surgical sequelae discussion included possible interventions for complications, such as persistent sutures in the vagina, abnormal bleeding, or de novo dyspareunia. Counseling regarding changes to the patient's sexual experience ranged from suggestion of improvement to an anticipated negative experience. Surgeons more commonly advised patients that their sexual experience would be worsened or different from baseline; discussion of improvement was less frequent. Conclusions: Surgeon counseling regarding the postoperative return to sexual activity varies among pelvic reconstructive surgeons. Most reassure patients that intercourse is safe after surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)725-731
Number of pages7
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Urology

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