• Sun, Aug 4 - 2:00 pm ET

Finally, A Study About Postpartum Sex Drive That Doesn’t Just Focus On Moms

shutterstock_47726542__1375635862_142.196.156.251A new study shows that a partner’s interest in sex can often drop after childbirth. I find it refreshing that we are finally taking all of the pressure off the birth mother and realizing that there are other factors that may influence how awesome your sex life is after the birth of a child.

I know I’m sick of hearing the anecdotes of “how long” a partner has to wait for sex after a child is born. I’m also sick of the jokes about how a mom’s boobs don’t belong to her partner anymore, but rather her child. Am I the only one? My boobs are mine, thank you very much. The insinuation that a partner is just waiting on his or her sexless spouse to become ready for intimacy again is pretty ridiculous. According to research published this week in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, the stress of childbirth must have a bearing on a partner’s postpartum sexual response as well:

“We found that, like birth mothers, fathers and co-mothers experience sexual highs and lows during the postpartum,” said lead author Sari van Anders, an assistant professor of psychology and women’s studies at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor. “High sexual desire in co-parents at this time was influenced not only by sexual interest, but also feelings of intimacy. Low desire was influenced not by partner disinterest or breast-feeding status, as more typically assumed, but by fatigue and stress.”

Research about postpartum sexual relationships has typically focused on the mother – concentrating on hormonal changes or her body’s healing process. But this survey revealed that “factors related to child care and personal intimacy mattered more to sexual interest than any physical or hormonal changes endured by the birth mother.”

“Researchers have typically focused on birth mothers as a negative influence on their male partner’s sexual desire, maybe due to breast-feeding, lack of interest or postpartum vaginal issues,” van Anders said. “In contrast to these assumptions, our empirical work demonstrated that co-parents — including men and women — experience low desire after childbirth because of fatigue, stress and [lack] of free time.”

It’s about time. Maybe we can finally put the myth of the sexless new mom to rest, and realize that bringing a new baby into the world affects the sex drives of everyone involved.

(photo: Karlova Irina/ Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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  • Elizabeth Wakefield

    Exhaustion and fatigue. I kept waiting for those two words to come into the article. I think that’s the biggest detriment to postpartum sex life – for my husband, at least. It never had to do with my belly that jiggled or even sometimes leaky boobs….we were both just flat out exhausted.

    • Andrea

      I was beyond fatigued. My husband is never (EVER!) too tired for sex. I seriously considered lying to him after my 6 week check up and telling him the doctor said I needed more time. That’s how tired and desperate I was.

      He was (sorta) understanding, but it did cause some issues at first.

  • Madame Ovaries

    Whoa whoa whoa. Fatigue and stress can get in the way of your sex life? Thanks for cluing us in, science!

  • Drerica

    I’m a psychologist and I study sexuality, this is not the first study in this vein. Previous work has shown repeatedly that men’s testosterone drops sharply after their children are born (only those who are involved anyways) and that has helpful benefits to parenting like a drop in aggression (or more importantly its milder cousin frustration). Of course sex drive drops as well. Which from an evolutionary perspective could be an adaptation in line with how women are less (LESS, not infertile) fertile while breast feeding- because pregnancy with an infant and then multiple babies were more risky to raise.

  • ElleJai

    I was ready to try sex a few weeks post birth, but I swear that babies have a psychic connection and ALWAYS KNOW. Luckily my mum would respond to the screaming infant so we could fit in a little bit of mummy and daddy time every so often.

    Every lady/relationship is different though and thus I do what worked for me, and I expect what works to look different for everyone.

    We’re all just doing the best we can.