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Midwives at ZHAW research with midwives in Tehran

Developing and validating a scale to assess a woman’s sexual quality of life after the birth of a child.

In a joint project between the Midwifery Science Research Unit at ZHAW and the Nursing and Midwifery Care Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS), Dr Susanne Grylka (a midwife whose research area includes postpartum life quality, ZHAW) and Dr Azam Rahmani (midwife and sexual health researcher, TUMS) are developing and validating a scale to assess a woman’s sexual quality of life after giving birth. The two researchers have been awarded a Seed Money Grant – a funding instrument that promotes collaboration between Swiss researchers and their counterparts in South Asia and Iran; ZHAW has been acting as Leading House since 2017.

Sexual life is essential in women’s overall health

The birth of a child is an overwhelming, yet sometimes also stressful experience that can negatively impact a woman’s sexual quality of life. Sexual dysfunction is prevalent in the postpartum period – a fact that can not only have adverse consequences on a woman’s health and well-being, but also burden her relationship. However, little research has been conducted in the field of post-partum sexuality. The researchers therefore plan to explore the key factors that affect the sexual quality of life of primiparous women during the postpartum period in Iran and Switzerland. In addition, the research group plans to develop and validate the Iranian version of a scale designed to measure a woman’s postpartum sexual life quality.

Interviews and a standardised questionnaire

The project consists of an exploratory mixed method study conducted in two phases. On the basis of a literature review combined with individual interviews and focus group discussions held in both countries, researchers will examine the factors related to a first-time mother’s sexual quality of life. This information will then provide the foundation for the development of the Iranian version of a standardised questionnaire, which will subsequently be applied and validated in a study with two to three hundred women.

In follow-up studies, the scale will be translated into German and culturally adapted. The results of this study will be used in future to measure a woman’s sexual quality of life following the birth of a child and to design appropriate interventions and solutions to improve female sexual life after birth in Iran and Switzerland.