Postpartum sexuality has traditionally been studied using a biomedical framework, which focuses on how the physical and biological changes that occur during pregnancy and childbirth affect the resumption of pain-free intercourse. The current study sought to use a more inclusive and contextual approach by investigating how relationship characteristics are related to postpartum sexual desire and predict the resumption of a variety of sexual activities. A total of 188 new mothers who were within one year postpartum completed an online study. The Sexual Desire Inventory was used to measure solitary and dyadic sexual desire. Relationship satisfaction was measured using the Relationship Assessment Scale and perception of partner’s sexual desire was measured using three modified questions from the Sexual Desire Inventory. New mothers were also asked to report when they resumed a variety of sexual activities in the postpartum period. Relationship satisfaction and perceptions of partner’s desire were negatively correlated with solitary sexual desire, and relationship satisfaction was positively correlated with dyadic sexual desire. Birth-related factors were not related to postpartum sexual desire. New mothers’ perception of their partner’s desire predicted the resumption of most sexual activities in the postpartum (i.e., manual stimulation of new mother’s and partner’s genitals, oral stimulation of partner’s genitals, penile-vaginal intercourse). Relationship satisfaction predicted the resumption of oral stimulation of the new mother’s genitals. The results of this study support the incorporation of contextual factors, such as relationship characteristics, and the inclusion of non-penetrative sexual activities in the study of postpartum sexuality.


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pp. 126-137
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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