New Moms Still Want Sex in Postpartum Period, Study Finds

Kim LaCapria

New moms are often stereotyped as being tired, de-sexed, and generally not in the mood for lovemaking when a baby comes along -- presumably due to the joint stressors of childbirth and breastfeeding -- but a new study indicates that the age-old idea that moms of newborns are more disinterested in sex than before the baby came along are not always accurate.

We've all heard of the poor, unfortunate mom who discovers at her six-week postpartum checkup that she is yet again pregnant, but the study reveals that couples who go outside the recommended month and a half sex-free recovery period to get their grooves on once again are relatively common -- and that was just one of several interesting, sex-related factoids discovered during the research.

Desire for sex has always been at the heart of these notions about the postpartum period, and LiveScience quotes behavioral endocrinologist at the University of Michigan Sari van Anders. Van Anders explains that women's behaviors documented in the postpartum period show that lack of desire for sex is clearly not an issue -- and that women are even proactive in initiating sexual acts with partners:

"One interesting thing is that women performed oral sex on their partners and engaged in masturbation earlier than they received oral sex or engaged in intercourse... People have frequently assumed that women just aren't interested in sexuality early in the postpartum period and that the sexual activity they do engage in is for the sake of their partners, but the rates of masturbation suggests that many women are feeling sexual."

The study involved 304 women who had recently given birth, and measured the quantity and quality of sex they had experienced since their new baby arrived. 85% of women were having sex on the regular, while 65% were regularly performing oral sex, and 61% had masturbated.

The study was published in the June 6 issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine.