Genito-Pelvic Pain in Pregnancy and Postpartum

The purpose of this study is to better understand the genital and pelvic (genito-pelvic) pain that many women experience during and after childbirth. The study will examine the biological, psychological, and social factors that contribute to the development and continuation of chronic genito-pelvic postpartum pain, and the effects that this pain has on sexual, romantic, and psychological functioning. The long-term goal of our research is to better assist women with genito-pelvic pain related to pregnancy and childbirth, and to identify women who may benefit from earlier treatment.



Who can participate?

Women who are –

  • Over the age of 18
  • At approximately 18 to 22 weeks gestation with their first child (i.e., their first delivery)
  • Having a singleton pregnancy
  • Planning to give birth at the IWK Health Centre
  • Able to read and speak English
  • Able to access a personal email account
  • If interested potential participants experience any severe medical or psychiatric disease these must be well managed.

Recruitment will take place before your first ultrasound appointment (routine 20 weeks gestational ultrasound appointment) at the Ultrasound Clinic in the IWK Health Centre. We are currently recruiting exclusively at this location.

What we will ask you to do

Eligible women recruited at their 20-week ultrasound will be asked to complete an electronic questionnaire at the clinic. A secure, anonymized link to the questionnaire will be e-mailed to you so that you can continue it at home should your appointment begin before you finish the questionnaire, which will take between 20 and 30 minutes to complete.

A similar secure, anonymized questionnaire will also be emailed to participants at 32 weeks gestation, and two weeks, three months, six months, one year, and two years after delivery.

Each questionnaire will take from 15-30 minutes to complete, and will ask about demographics, prior chronic pain conditions, thoughts and feelings about pain, and psychological, relationship, and sexual wellbeing.

Information about your labour and delivery will be accessed by a research assistant through a chart review.

Women who report genito-pelvic pain at one and two years postpartum will be asked to attend a gynaecological examination performed by a staff gynecologist at the IWK.

Your confidentiality and anonymity are assured. Participation involves no health risks, is free of cost, and you may withdraw at anytime with no consequence to your care at the IWK Health Centre.

What are the benefits to participating in this study?

  • Your participation in this study will allow you to reflect on your childbirth experience and the impact it has had on how you cope with pain, your sex life, and your relationship.
  • As well, by participating in this study, you are contributing to the larger effort of trying to better understand women’s pain during and after childbirth. It is hoped that what is learned from this study will be of future benefit to participants and others.
  • To thank you for your participation, we will also provide compensation for your time (both for completing the surveys and for attending gynaecological examinations, should you be asked).

For more information contact us using the form below.


This study is directed by Dr. Natalie Rosen, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, in collaboration with the Women’s Pain Research Group at the IWK Health Centre.

The research is funded by an operating grant from the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR), as well as an establishment grant from the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation.



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