Despite the wear-and-tear on a new mother's body, the lack of sleep after a baby is born, and the constant screams of the newborn, science has found that most women are ready to get it on long before the end of the doctor-recommended six-week waiting period.
A study done by researchers at the University of Michigan discovered that for most women, psychological factors, like a need to feel bonded with their partner, outweighed physical impediments like vaginal trauma, breastfeeding and exhaustion. In fact, the majority of women's sex drives are restored to pre-pregnancy levels just one month after giving birth.
While most TV sitcoms and movies make light of this situation, showing new dads hounding their wives to get back to getting it on until they give in, behavioral endocrinologist Sari van Anders found that stereotype to be false.
Researchers asked nearly 300 women who had given birth within the last seven years to participate in an online questionnaire about their sexual activity levels and desires after giving birth, the role their partners played in the process, their birth experience and various physical factors. What they found goes against the common beliefs, but shouldn't really be surprising to anyone: Women didn't just start having sex again to make their partners happy, they did it because they sincerely wanted to. Shocker. I know.
The desire to feel close to their partners was the biggest reason women were interested in hopping back in the sack. Second was encouragement from their partners. And third? Their own sexual desires, and the support they felt from their partners.
The study found that by the end of the first three months postpartum, 85 percent of women had had sex, and 65 percent had had oral sex. 61 percent said they had masturbated. "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 suggest that many women are feeling sexual," Anders explains.
So should you really wait six weeks before you and your partner give it a go? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on what your doctor says, and how you feel. Though the weeks (and months, and years!) after childbirth can feel trying, remember that it's also a time for you to focus on recovery.
If you've been pregnant, how soon after giving birth were you ready for sex again?
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