Changes in Sexuality After Childbirth

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Changes in Sexuality After ChildbirthResults of a study that was recently published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine reveals that partners of new moms experience changes in sexuality after childbirth as well. However, the researchers from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor also found that the changes in sexual desire usually aren’t related to childbirth in medical or biological sense.

Prior research on sexuality in new parents was mainly focused on new moms and physiological changes after childbirth such as changes in hormonal levels as a result of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding, and the influence of biological changes such as intervention during delivery on sexuality. In other words, most researchers assigned changes in sexual life after the arrival of the baby almost exclusively to moms who have been suggested to negatively affect sexual desire in their partners, for example by breastfeeding or lack of interest in intercourse. Researchers from the University of Michigan, however, claim that this is not the case and that partners of new moms have ups and downs too but not due to the ‘negative influence’ of birth or their partners.

Sari van Anders and her colleagues from the University of Michigan studied over 110 partners of new moms of which 95 were men. They asked the study participants to complete an online questionnaire in regard to their sexual life during the first three months after the arrival of the baby. Upon analyzing the data, the researchers found that non-birthing partners also experienced shifts in their sexual desire. Interestingly, the changes in sexuality were less influenced by factors related to birth and their partners. Instead, they were mainly related to baby care – stress, fatigue and lack of time. These were the most commonly reported reasons for low sexual desire in both men and same-sex partners who didn’t gave birth.

According to the researchers, their study sheds more light on the changes in sexuality which are experienced by both parents after the arrival of the baby. Based on the results of their study and prior research that investigated sexuality in new moms, the researchers concluded that there is strong evidence that both partners experience similar changes in sexuality during the first few months after birth.

While the negative influence of the care for a newborn on sexuality isn’t surprising, this study was the first to show that there is a link. A study that was published a couple of years ago in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, however, also indicates that a child causes physiological changes in the non-birthing partner. This study was conducted by the researchers from the Northwestern University in Illinois who found that the levels of the principal male sex hormone drop dramatically when a man becomes a dad which made the researchers believe that the father-child interaction suppresses testosterone.

Family and marriage therapist who commented the study said a newborn brings changes into the relationship between the partners which also includes their sexual life. He also said most new parents need some time to adjust to the changes and get back to normal, especially when it comes to intercourse. As a result, increased importance is placed on other forms of sexuality during the adjustment period.