Body Image and Severe Perineal Trauma

  • David Iles

Student thesis: Doctor of Medicine


Severe perineal trauma with injury to the anal sphincter at childbirth can have a profound effect on the physical and psychological wellbeing of women. This thesis describes literature examining resulting outcomes including effects on body image. It describes patient-based outcome measures used to capture this information, and evaluation of their psychometric properties. Body Image can be defined as an individual’s perceptions and feelings about their own body. There is a growing interest in how this concept can influence quality of life and psychosocial dysfunction in medical disorders. This thesis aimed to examine relationships between severity of perineal trauma, general and genital specific body image and potentially influences such as symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction. No patient-reported outcome measure validated for use in women after anal sphincter injury exists and this thesis also aimed to psychometrically evaluate an existing electronic questionnaire, ePAQ (electronic personal assessment questionnaire), for this application. In the thesis, a retrospective review of body image and physical outcomes attending a perineal clinic shows over half of women report perceived changes in body image after anal sphincter injury, with negative effects on self-esteem. A prospective observational cohort study explored genital and general body image in primiparous women grouped according to degree of perineal trauma or caesarean delivery. Women completed the Female Genital Self Image Score, the modified Body Image Score, ePAQ and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale a mean of 15.5 weeks (standard deviation 1.6) after delivery. There were significant differences in genital body image scores between the groups, but not in general body image, with regression analysis showing the greatest influence on genital body image to be the anatomical extent of the trauma. Embedded into this study was the evaluation of reliability (internal consistency and test-retest) and validity (face, content and construct) of ePAQ in the group of women with anal sphincter tears. This thesis presents the first research to quantify issues surrounding severe perineal trauma and body image and demonstrates that more severe trauma leads to a poorer genital body image. It also reports psychometric evaluation of ePAQ in women after anal sphincter injury providing the first single instrument with validity and reliability for use in this context.
Date of Award31 Dec 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJenny Myers (Supervisor) & Fiona Reid (Supervisor)


  • genital body image
  • ePAQ
  • patient reported outcome measure
  • perineal trauma
  • Anal sphincter injury
  • Body Image

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