Forty weeks of pregnancy is such an incredible journey, whether it’s your first baby or not. You may find that your sex drive has gone on a hiatus after going through a lot of physical and psychological changes.
Maybe you haven’t even noticed it, being busy nurturing your precious little one. This article will help you get back your intimacy with your partner.
Is it natural to have reduced libido after childbirth?
Yes, it is entirely natural. A recent study showed that nearly half (46.3%) of postpartum women expressed a decreased interest in sexual activity after childbirth. Additionally, 43% reported experiencing vaginal dryness, while 36.5% of the participants experienced dyspareunia even up to six months after birth.
Various factors can contribute to this shift, including changes in body image, sleep deprivation and heightened stress levels.
How can I improve my sex drive after childbirth?
Your well-being is of utmost importance during this period. Take time to pamper and nurture your physical, emotional and spiritual health. Ask for help from your partner, family, friends or a babysitter so you can have some time to yourself. You may find simple acts like taking a long warm shower, listening to wholesome music and savoring nourishing meals refreshing and uplifting.
2. Open communication
Now is the time to have open and heartfelt conversations with your partner. During these talks, you can share your expectations, worries, joys and any changes you have noticed in your sexual intimacy. This will strengthen your bond and grow the love and understanding between you two.
3. Embrace your postpartum body
Embrace and appreciate your postpartum body for the incredible feat it has been through. A positive body image can contribute to feeling confident and sexy. If you find yourself longing for the body you had before pregnancy and childbirth, you may consider diet, exercise or a mommy makeover.
4. Pelvic floor exercises
Regularly practicing Kegels exercises after childbirth can be a simple but effective way of strengthening the muscles that support sexual function, promoting sexual pleasure during this time.
5. Be patient with yourself
Most women find intercourse painful following childbirth. You and your partner must pace yourselves during this period. You can begin with non-sexual physical intimacy such as cuddling, massage, back and foot rubs, and soft kissing before progressing into sexual activities as you feel comfortable.
6. Use of lubricants
If vaginal dryness is a concern, use a good quality water-based lubricant either in isolation or with other products, e.g., condoms, in addition to lots of foreplay. This can make a world of difference, making intercourse soothing and more comfortable.
7. Vaginal rejuvenation
This aims to restore and enhance the function and appearance of the genital area. This procedure can either be non-surgical or may encompass surgical vaginal tightening. While the goal is not primarily to increase sex drive, these procedures do so indirectly by improving sensation in the genital area, tightening the vaginal muscles, enhancing confidence, addressing incontinence and reducing discomfort.
8. Expert help
If you are experiencing persistent issues with your sex drive or intimacy, lingering pain, symptoms of depression or any postpartum complications, seek guidance from a reproductive health specialist or sex therapist.
When will my sex drive return after childbirth?
There is no set timetable, but evidence suggests that many women notice an upward trend around six months after childbirth.
Even more intriguing is that these women report experiencing orgasms akin to their pre-pregnancy experiences.
How long after childbirth can you have sex?
Again, there is no definitive roadmap. It is a deeply personal journey that hinges on your unique physical and emotional readiness. Listen to your body.
Are there foods, supplements or exercises that can increase female sex drive?
While there are promising indications regarding the potential benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, the Mediterranean diet, and pelvic floor exercise in enhancing female libido, it is crucial to approach these strategies with a balanced perspective. Consulting with a healthcare professional is highly recommended to find solutions that will help address these concerns.
There is nothing to worry about having low libido after childbirth. It is natural, and in about six months or so, your sex drive will also return naturally. Of course, you can proactively take some steps, such as self-care, being patient with yourself, openly communicating with your partner, accepting your postpartum body, doing pelvic exercises, using lubricants, undergoing vaginal rejuvenation and seeking expert help from a health specialist.
- Gutzeit O, Levy G, Lowenstein L. Postpartum female sexual function: risk factors for postpartum sexual dysfunction. Sexual medicine. 2020;8(1):8-13.
- Rupp HA, James TW, Ketterson ED, Sengelaub DR, Ditzen B, Heiman JR. Lower sexual interest in postpartum women: relationship to amygdala activation and intranasal oxytocin. Hormones and Behavior. 2013;63(1):114-21.
- Khanjari Z, Iravani M, Abedi P, Ghanbari S. Effect of Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on sexual function of pregnant women: a double blind randomised controlled trial. International Journal of Impotence Research. 2022:1-8.
- Kennedy CE, Yeh PT, Li J, Gonsalves L, Narasimhan M. Lubricants for the promotion of sexual health and well-being: a systematic review. Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters.29(3):2044198.
- O’Malley D, Higgins A, Begley C, Daly D, Smith V. Prevalence of and risk factors associated with sexual health issues in primiparous women at 6 and 12 months postpartum; a longitudinal prospective cohort study (the MAMMI study). BMC pregnancy and childbirth. 2018;18(1):1-3.
About the Author
Ferdinand Obi (MBBS, MWACS,FMCOG, MPH): Bridging medicine and words.