Low Libido After Pregnancy: How to Cope
Having a baby brings many changes, one of which can be a decrease in libido. While some women seem to return to a normal sex life within a few months of giving birth, others may suffer from a lack of desire for much longer.
According to Laura Fijolek McKain, M.D., an Obstetrician/Gynecologist in Wilmington, North Carolina, 20 percent of women in one study experienced low libido after pregnancy, and had little or no desire for sex three months after delivery. For 21 percent of the women studied, their libido was permanently diminished.
What Causes Low Libido After Pregnancy?
- Dealing with remarkable, sometimes overwhelming, fatigue relating to caring for a newborn
- Meeting the needs of the new baby, who typically demands immediate attention 24 hours per day
- Providing the hours of physical contact required by the infant
Combined, these innate needs of newborns can make the mother feel she no longer has personal space, her own time, or true ownership over her body. Coupled with the physical changes she continues to undergo for at least a year after childbirth, all of these factors can be emotionally and physically draining and contribute to low libido and low energy levels after pregnancy.
Learning to carve out time for intimacy with a partner takes effort. Besides the difficulty in finding a moment for intimate interaction, being touched may be undesirable due to the new mother's need for personal space.
Aside from psychological adjustments to being a new mother, physical changes occurring as the body heals add to the difficulty in fostering sexual desire. The female body has a lot of healing to do after labor and delivery. Hormones are changing and shifting, making the new mom feel emotionally and physically unstable. There may be dread relating to the physical discomfort many women experience during their first sexual forays after childbirth. Finally, due to all of these changes and a lack of "me" time, a woman may begin to feel physically unattractive.
As if all of these hindrances are not enough, subconsciously allowing for sexual desire may be difficult because of a fear of becoming pregnant again. Scientists even believe that the body may actually block sexual desire to allow for healing until it is physically ready to become pregnant again.
Overcoming Low Libido After Pregnancy
Despite the many difficulties that must be overcome when trying to regain sexual interest after having a baby, the good news is that all of these hindrances are temporary. When the body recovers enough from childbirth and hormones are a bit more stable, a healthy sex life can return.
In the meantime, there are several things which can be done to encourage the process, such as:
- Communicate with your partner about your concerns
- Focus on foreplay
- Do not force activity for which you are not ready
- Be romantic
- Ask your partner to help you along with kindness, compliments and patience
Beyond communication, touch and romance, there are some other things which can be done to help combat low libido after pregnancy, like spending some time each day focusing on things which make you feel attractive or sexy. Painting your nails, getting your hair done, returning to the gym, or participating in any other activities that were enjoyed before the baby can help both your mind and your body remember that you are a sexy person.