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Men and Women Deal with the Highs and Lows of Sex Life Post Childbirth

Update Date: Aug 01, 2013 10:35 AM EDT

For new parents, the joys of a newborn baby are incomparable. Even though having a child can be a happy time, it can also be an extremely stressful time in one's life as well. A newborn comes with needs that have to be attended to regardless of the time of day. For some people, these interruptions can start to take a mental and physical toll. Previous studies have found that after childbirth, the mothers' sex life is greatly affected. In a new study, researchers looked at the effects of childbirth on new fathers as well. They found that fathers also experienced changes in their sexual activities.

For this study, the research team composed of Sari van Anders, Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and colleagues, created a study to measure postpartum sexuality in couples. The researchers recruited 114 partners of postpartum women who just gave birth. 95 of them were men, 18 were women and one was unspecified. The partners were given a questionnaire that asked them about their sexuality within the first three months after the birth of their youngest child. The researchers focused on physical, psychological, social and relational interactions.

The researchers discovered that partners also suffered from similar sexual shifts. Around one in five fathers did not resume sexual activities for over three months post childbirth. Only around one in three men resumed sexual activities with their wives within the first six weeks post childbirth. One in three waited till the seventh to 12th week before having sex again. The researchers found that partners experienced sexual lows due to the lack of desire to have sex. The researchers noted that partners invested a lot of energy and time to care for their baby, which led to an increase in stress and fatigue. These symptoms often lower one's desire to partake in sexual activities.

"Our findings help to clarify how co-parents experience sexuality in myriad ways that are contextualized within partner and parenting relationships," van Anders said according to Medical Xpress.

The researchers believe that their findings could help couples and doctors understand why certain sexual shifts occurred post childbirth. This study revealed that both men and women appeared to be worried about resuming sexual activities. Since having a healthy sexual lifestyle could be beneficial for mental health, reverting these shifts and maintaining an active sex life could be vital for the relationship and for individual health.

"What is of note is that we have come to recognize that sexual health of one partner may be related to the sexual health of the other, no matter the cause of the change in sexuality. It is important to published studies in all aspects of sexual health," the editor-in-chief of The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Irwin Goldstein commented.

The findings were published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine

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