Sexual activity and vaginal topography in women with symptomatic pelvic floor disorders

Autumn L Edenfield, Pamela J Levin, Alexis A Dieter, Cindy L Amundsen, Nazema Y Siddiqui
Journal of Sexual Medicine 2015, 12 (2): 416-23

INTRODUCTION: Pelvic floor disorders affect vaginal anatomy and may affect sexual function.

AIMS: The aims of this study were to explore the relationship between vaginal anatomy and sexual activity in women with symptomatic pelvic floor disorders and to assess whether vaginal measurements (topography) correlate with sexual function.

METHODS: This is a retrospective cohort study comparing sexually active and nonsexually active women planning urogynecologic surgery. Our primary outcome was the difference in vaginal topography based on Pelvic Organ Prolapse Quantification (POP-Q) exam between cohorts. Correlations between POP-Q measurements and Pelvic Organ Prolapse/Urinary Incontinence Sexual Questionnaire short form (PISQ-12) scores were assessed in sexually active women.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: The POP-Q is a quantitative and standardized examination for prolapse. The PISQ-12 is a condition-specific sexual function questionnaire validated in sexually active women with pelvic floor disorders.

RESULTS: Of 535 women, 208 (39%) were sexually active and 327 (61%) were not. Median genital hiatus (GH) and perineal body (PB) measurements and a PB:GH ratio were not significantly different between the two cohorts. Total vaginal length (TVL) was longer in sexually active women (median 9 vs. 8 cm, P<0.001). In a linear regression analysis controlling for potential confounders, sexually active women still had a longer TVL by 0.4 cm (95% confidence interval 0.07, 0.6 cm) compared with those who were not sexually active. Of the 327 nonsexually active women, 28% indicated they avoided sexual activity because of pelvic floor symptoms. There was poor correlation between TVL, GH, PB, and PB : GH ratio with PISQ-12 scores (r=0.10, -0.05, -0.09, -0.03, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS: In women with pelvic floor disorders, sexual activity is associated with a longer vaginal length. One-quarter of women indicated they avoided sexual activity because of pelvic floor symptoms. Vaginal topography does not correlate with sexual function based on PISQ-12 scores.

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