Monday, March 29, 2010

Sex after having a baby

I have heard a lot of women talk about this as a big issue between spouses. I know you probably won't comment on this story, but I thought you might want to read it. The way you are feeling may be the same way other women or men are feeling!


(CNN) -- Six weeks after Robyn Roark gave birth to her first child, her doctor told her that she could start having sex again. She started crying.

"I could not believe that just six weeks after having a baby, that that would even be something to consider," said Roark, 32, of the San Francisco, California, area. "I could barely figure out how to shower and eat. How could I possibly start having sex?"

Roark, who writes for the Silicon Valley Moms Blog, isn't alone. Although doctors say it's physically OK to have sex around six weeks after the birth of a child, some mothers, such as Roark, say they feel so fatigued and overwhelmed that they put sex on the back burner for months, or even a year, after a doctor clears them for physical activity.

Why it's a problem

Besides exhaustion, there are biological reasons why some women don't return to their previous sex lives after childbirth, said Dr. Irwin Goldstein, director of sexual medicine at Alvarado Hospital in San Diego, California. Testosterone goes down for some women after the delivery, and breast-feeding releases the hormone prolactin, which inhibits arousal.

While Viagra has been a popular remedy for men with low sex drive, there is no medical treatment on the market for female sexual dysfunction, despite the number of women who are unable to resume their pre-childbirth intimacy levels. A drug called Flibanserin, currently under Food and Drug Administration review, could be available as soon as this year and would treat chemical imbalances that impede a mother's sexual desire, Goldstein said.

New mothers may also be reluctant in bed because of physical discomfort or because they have some element of postpartum depression, said Dr. Rini Ratan, assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center.

The first six months after delivering her son were the hardest for Roark, as she struggled to figure out the balance between taking care of her newborn and having time for her own needs as basic as showering. As for sex, it took about a year for her and her husband to find their groove again, and for her to enjoy sex, she said.

"There were times where I literally made grocery lists in my head" during sex, said Roark, whose son is now nearly 6 years old. "It wasn't horrible, I just wasn't always in the right frame of mind."

New mothers' sexual experiences vary widely -- some actually don't have a decreased libido and want to have sex again right away, Ratan said.

How complicated the pregnancy was, and whether the mother has had children before, may factor into how she feels about physical intimacy after the birth, Ratan said.

For some women, it doesn't get easier with more children. Julie Marsh, 38, needed a full year after the births of each of her three children to get her sex life back to normal.

A newborn needs to be in contact with its mother constantly, and during those moments when the mother gets a break, she often just wants to be left alone, Marsh said.

"The last thing you want, when it's no longer in contact with you, the last thing you want is for anyone else to touch you," she said.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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