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

Helen Elden, Annica Olesen, Linda Svahn, Helena Lindgren


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 experiencesof 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 usingqualitative content analysis.

Results: The experience of complications of an OASR is described in the overall theme ”Feeling old in a young body” andfour categories: The body as injured; isolation; inability to function sexually, and anxiety for the future. Participants describedhow the consequences of OASR totally occupied their lives, making them feel old in a young body. They told of repercussionsfor their physical, psychological, sexual and social lives; how it affected their roles of mothers and partners, making them fearfuture childbirths. Diet, use of medicines, coal filters in incontinence pads, timing of toilet visits, use of the environment andmobile 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 enablehealthcare personnel and authorities to meet their needs and organize care so that adequate support is available. It would alsobe beneficial if the women’s physical strategies were integrated into the information provided by health caregivers involved infollow-up. However, more research in this area is warranted.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/cns.v3n1p20


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Clinical Nursing Studies
ISSN 2324-7940(Print)   ISSN 2324-7959(Online)

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