Research suggests that desire returns to prepregnancy levels within about three to four weeks, though most couples don't resume vaginal intercourse until week seven or eight. The biggest driver of high sexual desire for women were their feelings of intimacy and closeness to their partners, the researchers found. All of the women had a romantic partner during the first three months of their baby's life. She and her colleagues wanted to take a look at social factors, too. A woman's level of social support and her experiences in childbirth both physical and psychological also influenced how soon she started engaging in sexual activities again. Masturbation rates of 40 percent in the first few weeks suggest that women are interested in getting back to being sexual. But studies have shown that new parenthood doesn't cool the sex drive for long. They answered questions about their sexual desires, their sexual activities, their partner's supportiveness, their birth experience and other factors, like breast-feeding.
Sixty-five percent had engaged in oral sex and 61 percent had masturbated. In terms of timing, the most important factors for a woman were her perceptions of her partner's sexual needs and desires, suggesting that some women start sexual activity again more for their partner's benefit than their own. Masturbation rates of 40 percent in the first few weeks suggest that women are interested in getting back to being sexual. In general, van Anders said, women start performing oral sex and masturbating first, with receptive oral sex and penile-vaginal intercourse coming later. Aphrodisiacs and sex-killers By the end of the first three months, 85 percent of the women had started having intercourse again. In many cases, social factors such as spousal support and the baby's sleeping habits play a larger role in new moms' interest in sex than physical factors like birth trauma, the research found. After seven weeks, that number jumps to 61 percent. But 26 percent of women did engage in intercourse before their six-week checkup, van Anders said. But there's more to sex than biology, van Anders told LiveScience. A woman's level of social support and her experiences in childbirth both physical and psychological also influenced how soon she started engaging in sexual activities again. They answered questions about their sexual desires, their sexual activities, their partner's supportiveness, their birth experience and other factors, like breast-feeding. Previous studies have mostly focused on the physical trauma of labor and delivery as well as post-baby hormonal factors to explain the postpartum sex drive. She and her colleagues wanted to take a look at social factors, too. Top sex-drive killers were fatigue, the baby's sleeping habits and a lack of time. The researchers recruited women who had given birth in the last seven years to reflect on their postpartum experiences in a series of online questionnaires. Early start Doctors usually recommend that women avoid sex in the first six weeks postpartum, both to promote healing and to reduce the risk of infection. 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. Women also begin feeling desire and engaging in sex sooner than the six-week waiting period that most doctors recommend. 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. Now, a new study finds that much of what drives women's desire in the postpartum period are not physical factors, but psychological ones. That's not to say that the postpartum period needs to be a time of wild sex, van Anders said — new parents do have other things to worry about at this point, after all, and some may not be interested in sexuality — but discussions about sexuality, relationships, support and fatigue could help women feel more comfortable with their postpartum sexuality and have more positive post-birth experiences. 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. Research suggests that desire returns to prepregnancy levels within about three to four weeks, though most couples don't resume vaginal intercourse until week seven or eight. Yuri Arcurs , Shutterstock Starting up sex again after the birth of a child can be a fraught issue for new parents.
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