Pregnancy, parturition and postpartum considerations among patients with vulvar lichen sclerosus: A retrospective cross-sectional online survey

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



BJOG : an international journal of obstetrics and gynaecology




antenatal care; clinical guidelines; dermatology; vulva: benign diseases


OBJECTIVE: Characterise VLS and obstetric considerations among women during pregnancy, parturition and postpartum. DESIGN: Retrospective cross-sectional online survey, 2022. SETTING: International, English-speakers. POPULATION: Self-identified individuals aged 18-50 diagnosed with VLS with symptom onset prior to pregnancy. METHODS: Participants recruited from social media support groups and accounts, completed a 47-question survey including yes/no, multiple answer, and free-text responses. Data were analysed with frequency, means and the Chi-square test. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: VLS symptom severity, mode of delivery, perineal laceration, source and sufficiency of information provided about VLS and obstetrics, anxiety about delivery, and postpartum depression. RESULTS: Of 204 responses, 134 met inclusion criteria, encompassing 206 pregnancies. Mean respondent age was 35 years (SD 6) and mean age of VLS symptom onset, diagnosis and birth, was 22 (SD 8), 29 (SD 7) and 31 (SD 4) years, respectively. Symptoms decreased in 44% (n = 91) of pregnancies and increased during the postpartum period in 60% (n = 123). In all, 67% (n = 137) of pregnancies resulted in vaginal birth and 33% (n = 69) in caesarean birth. Anxiety for delivery due to VLS symptoms was reported by 50% (n = 103); 31% (n = 63) experienced postpartum depression. Of respondents previously diagnosed with VLS, 60% (n = 69) used topical steroids prior to pregnancy, 40% (n = 45) were treated during pregnancy and 65% (n = 75) postpartum. In all, 94% (n = 116) reported receiving an insufficient amount of information on the topic. CONCLUSION: In this online survey, we found reported symptom severity remained unchanged or decreased during pregnancy, but increased postpartum. Use of topical corticosteroids decreased during pregnancy compared with before and after pregnancy. Half of the respondents reported anxiety regarding VLS and delivery.


Obstetrics and Gynecology