Here's The Real Deal With Your Postpartum Sex Drive

by Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

You know you're not supposed to have sex at least six weeks after the baby's born. In the thick of the newborn days, however, you might be wondering when, exactly, you'll want to be intimate again. Hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, and stress all take a serious toll on your libido, so the important thing is not to rush yourself. When do you get your sex drive back after having a baby? It depends on a few factors — how quickly your hormones bounce back, whether or not you're breastfeeding, and how you're adjusting to a major life change.

Live Science reported that many women start feeling sexy again in as little as three to four weeks after giving birth, when hormone levels stabilize. If that's not you, don't worry: about 20 percent of women still feel no desire for sex three months after welcoming their new baby, according to Baby Center. The important thing is to remember that everyone's different, and that your sex drive will return in time. However, if you've been unhappy with your sex drive for three or four months, it's a good idea to see a doctor to rule out potential medical issues.

Why does desire drop so precipitously after giving birth? Especially in the first weeks after baby, a loss of libido is likely hormonal, especially if you're breastfeeding. (Thanks, biology.) As Madeleine Castellanos, M.D. told Women's Health, your body is an estrogen machine during pregnancy, but when hormone levels drop postpartum, the shift can wreak havoc on your sex drive. If you're nursing, the estrogen dip lasts even longer and may cause vaginal dryness and pain during sex, according to an expert at Parents.

For many, social and psychological factors also play a role. It's important to remember that giving birth is a break with your old life, whether this is your first child or your fourth. As such, a period of adjustment is completely normal, and that goes double if you're suffering from postpartum depression. According to Postpartum Progress, depression, anxiety, and OCD can all delay the return of your sex drive for months or even longer. Sufficient support from your partner and your family, prioritizing sleep and self care, and seeing a therapist as soon as you start feeling unwell can all help you better.

Not surprisingly, societal pressure to "get your body back" can itself dampen libido, explains Dr. Rosara Torrisi, Ph.D, of The Long Island Institute Of Sex Therapy, in an interview with Romper. "Getting a body 'back' after giving birth is not a thing," she observes. "That's a false message and an unrealistic expectation that damages new parents . . . This new baby brings your family to a new time, not an old time."

According to Torrisi, while not feeling particularly sexy can be a major hurdle, it's by no means insurmountable. "Seek pleasure through all of your senses," she advises. "Find sexy undies and nightgowns, give yourself huge kudos for what your body has done, take warm baths, experience the delights of physical activity, enjoy the sensation of your partner's skin on your own, smell the roses (literally), eat something mindfully, and watch the sun rise (you know you're up anyway)."

If many months have passed, or if you're experiencing pelvic floor issues like stress incontinence, a doctor can help. Finally, never underestimate the effects of sleep deprivation on desire. Getting some sleep, exercise, and sunlight can truly work wonders. In the meantime, try not to stress about when your sex drive will come back, and as Torrisi suggests, focus on enjoying the little things in life — it might just be the spark you need to be intimate again.

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