The Link Between Postpartum Depression And Your Sex Drive


Chronically low sexual desire could be an indicator of postpartum depression.

Many studies have been done on postpartum depression, with some of them having linked it to pre-pregnancy depression and/or to stress from outside factors such as relationship conflicts. A recent study that was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association involved the screening of 10,000 new mothers over four years, ending in 2011. Nearly 1,400 of those women were found to have depression: 40 percent of that group said they experienced it postpartum, 33.4 percent experienced it during pregnancy, and 26.5 percent experienced it before pregnancy.

Postpartum depression can be brought on by changes in hormone levels that occur after pregnancy. Any woman can get postpartum depression in the months after childbirth, miscarriage, or stillbirth. You have a greater chance of getting postpartum depression if:

  • You've had depression or postpartum depression before
  • You have poor support from your partner, friends, or family
  • You have a sick or colicky baby
  • You have a lot of other stress in your life
  • You experienced low sexual desire before your pregnancy
  • You or someone in your family has or had bipolar disorder

A problem that may occur, but mostly goes unnoticed, is when a woman has low sexual desire even before her pregnancy, indicating that she could already have a hormonal imbalance. A woman's hormones, especially if she has been going on and off birth control pills, can affect her sex drive and sexual desire. After giving birth, hormones typically level out so that she starts to feel sexual desire again. If she does not, it may be an indication of postpartum depression. 

As a clinical sexologist, I get asked by many husbands whether their "wife will ever want to have sex again." Normally, the sex drive comes back about three months after a woman gives birth—but there are exceptions, especially when there are medical complications or problems with the baby's health. Many women who experience little or no sexual desire during pregnancy are prone to a loss of desire after pregnancy as well. If it's been three or more months after your baby was born and you're worried about a low sex drive, I suggest getting your hormone levels checked to determine whether it's a physical problem.

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This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.