postpartum sexual desireAccording to researchers from the University of Michigan, changes in sexual behavior after giving birth may not always be associated with medical or biological factors – for either partner in the relationship. The study, published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, claims both partners experience peaks and valleys in sexual desire unrelated to the physical changes of pregnancy or childbirth.

Researchers investigated changes in sexual behavior and desire in 114 partners of recent new mothers. The participants were made up of 18 women, 95 men, and one unclassified gender. Participants were asked to answer questions via an online questionnaire which authors provided. The questions focused on the sexual partner relationship for the three months immediately following birth.

The results showed changes in sexual behavior and mood on both sides of the partnership with the non-pregnant partner experiencing just as many mood shifts as the postpartum partner. Fatigue and stress appeared to be common factors contributing to reduced sexual desire, but other non-medical and non-biological factors also came into play.

Changes in sexual behavior in postpartum mothers are expected for at least the first six weeks immediately following birth as this is the typical timeframe for recovery, but what is most important about this study is the ebb and flow of partner or co-parent relationships. When one partner is fatigued or feeling increased stress levels associated with new baby care it reflects on the co-partner who then feels less sexual desire and vice versa.

Authors believe the results of this study and other studies in sexual health can help primary care physicians, obstetricians and other healthcare providers counsel new parents on the possible sexual impact of new parenthood. The results were found across both male/female and female/female partnerships. Researchers also noted sexuality in a relationship is important during the postpartum period as the new mother may develop perceptions of personal sexuality based on the feelings of her partner.

Source: Sari M. Van Anders Ph.D., Lauren E. Hipp BS, Lisa Kane Low Ph.D. Exploring co-parent experiences of sexuality in the first 3 months after birth. The Journal of Sexual Medicine. DOI: 10.1111/jsm.12194.