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Feeling old in a young body: Women’s experiences of living with severe consequences of an obstetric anal sphincter rupture: An interview study.

Journal article
Authors Helen Elden
Annica Olesen
Linda Svahn
Helena Lindgren
Published in Clinical Nursing Studies
Volume 3
Issue 1
Pages 20-28
ISSN 2324-7940
Publication year 2014
Published at Institute of Health and Care Sciences
Pages 20-28
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.5430/cns.v3n1p20
Keywords Obstetric anal sphincter injury
Subject categories Other Medical Sciences not elsewhere specified, Other Medical Sciences, Other Health Sciences

Abstract

Background: The incidence of obstetric anal sphincter rupture (OASR) is increasing. It may cause anal incontinence and dyspareunia, leading to reduced quality of life and wellbeing. Qualitative studies are lacking. The aim was to describe experiences of living with ongoing severe consequences of an OASR 8 weeks after childbirth. Method: Twenty women with ongoing severe consequences of an OASR 8 weeks after delivery were interviewed using qualitative content analysis. Results: The experience of complications of an OASR is described in the overall theme ”Feeling old in a young body” and four categories: The body as injured; isolation; inability to function sexually, and anxiety for the future. Participants described how the consequences of OASR totally occupied their lives, making them feel old in a young body. They told of repercussions for their physical, psychological, sexual and social lives; how it affected their roles of mothers and partners, making them fear future childbirths. Diet, use of medicines, coal filters in incontinence pads, timing of toilet visits, use of the environment and mobile phones to conceal flatus and/or feces were strategies participants described. Conclusions: This study can contribute to increased understanding of how women can be affected by an OASR, and may enable healthcare personnel and authorities to meet their needs and organize care so that adequate support is available. It would also be beneficial if the women’s physical strategies were integrated into the information provided by health caregivers involved in follow-up. However, more research in this area is warranted.

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