July 2, 2012

More Women Enjoy Sex Postpartum {featured news}

Women's sexual desire is so often either criticized as absent or derided as uncontrolled: rarely is it respectfully approached in its wholesome wholeness, especially in the case of new moms' sex. Which is why this new study documenting women's sexual desire and behavior postpartum is so welcome to me. Yes; women postpartum are often too tired and over-touched for "sex." That does not mean they are not sexual or that they do not experience sexual desire and pleasure.

I labored for 64 hours before giving birth to my child due to some scar tissue on my cervix; intercourse hurt for a year after that. That said, a sexual life and sexual pleasure returned to me before those 6 recommended weeks of "abstinence only."

Below are a few quotations from an article reporting on this new study on what new moms reveal regarding the truth about postpartum sex that rung true to me:

The new baby period is a time of little sleep and healing from childbirth, two factors not conducive to a rambunctious sex life. But studies have shown that new parenthood doesn't cool the sex drive for long. Research suggests that desire returns to prepregnancy levels within about three to four weeks. [...]

By the end of the first three months, 85 percent of the women had started having intercourse again. Sixty-five percent had engaged in oral sex and 61 percent had masturbated. In general, van Anders said, women start performing oral sex and masturbating first, with receptive oral sex and penile-vaginal intercourse coming later. The findings were detailed online June 6 in The Journal of Sexual Medicine. [...]

The biggest driver of high sexual desire for women were their feelings of intimacy and closeness to their partners, the researchers found. Next came their partner's interest in sex, followed by their own number of sexual feelings and their amount of support from their partner. Top sex-drive killers were fatigue, the baby's sleeping habits and a lack of time.

Contrary to beliefs that a man seeing his partner in the throes of labor is a turn-off, the study found that women whose partners were in the delivery room reported stronger sexual desire post-birth. Van Anders and her colleagues are now collecting data on men's experiences in the first months of their children's lives, but it may be that the support during labor boosts intimacy in couples, she said.

Doctors usually recommend that women avoid sex in the first six weeks postpartum, both to promote healing and to reduce the risk of infection. But 26 percent of women did engage in intercourse before their six-week checkup, van Anders said. (After seven weeks, that number jumps to 61 percent.) Masturbation rates of 40 percent in the first few weeks suggest that women are interested in getting back to being sexual.

Read the whole article here: New Moms Reveal the Truth About Postpartum Sex

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