Study Reveals Long-Term Health Challenges for 40 Million Women After Childbirth

A new study published in The Lancet Global Health journal sheds light on the long-term health challenges women face after childbirth. According to the research, at least 40 million women annually are likely to experience enduring health issues following childbirth, with various symptoms persisting for months or even years.

The study, part of The Lancet Series titled “Maternal health in the perinatal period and beyond,” uncovered significant postnatal health problems affecting women globally. Among the findings, dyspareunia, or pain during sexual intercourse, was reported by 35% of postpartum women, while 32% experienced low back pain. Other prevalent symptoms included involuntary urination (8-31%), anxiety (9-24%), depression (11-17%), and perineal pain (11%).

Notably, the study emphasized that many of these postnatal conditions extended beyond the timeframe where women typically have access to postnatal services, calling for greater recognition and care within the healthcare system.

The research highlighted the lack of recent high-quality guidelines for treating these conditions, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The authors stressed the importance of effective care throughout pregnancy and childbirth as a critical preventive measure to detect risks and avoid complications leading to lasting health issues.

Dr. Pascale Allotey, Director of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research at WHO, emphasized the enduring impact of postpartum conditions on women’s daily lives, urging healthcare providers to address these concerns to ensure women not only survive childbirth but also enjoy good health and quality of life throughout their lives.

The study’s findings underscore the need for increased attention to the long-term health of women, both after and before pregnancy, urging comprehensive healthcare support to enhance the well-being of mothers worldwide.