New Dads' Interest in Sex Often Drops: Study
They're also stressed and tired, survey finds
Personal fatigue is the top deterrent to sexual desire in partners of birth mothers, followed by stress and lack of available time.
Sexual feelings, their partner's level of sexual interest, and feelings of intimacy were the top factors fueling high sexual desire.
"It shouldn't be surprising that factors related to taking care of a newborn can negatively influence sexual desire, but our study is one of the first to show this," van Anders said. "Moreover, we found that co-parents also experience high desire after birth, generally influenced by feelings of intimacy and sexual interest."
Interestingly, time constraints were cited as both a deterrent and an aphrodisiac by those surveyed. About 40 percent cited lack of time as one of their top three deterrents to sexual desire, while about 28 percent cited it as one of their top three drivers of desire.
One expert described how this major life transition affects couples.
"There's definitely an adjustment period where the parents need to realize that aspects of their relationship have changed," said Brian Swope, a family and marriage therapist in Philadelphia. "It may be that it's going to take longer for some things to go back to where they were before."
The study also found that postpartum sexual activity usually involves masturbation or oral sex. About 74 percent of partners reported masturbating within the first six weeks following childbirth, while 58 percent received oral sex. Only 34 percent reported vaginal intercourse during that same time frame.
"There is an expectation that intercourse is going to take some time getting back to normal," Swope said. "The participants really had an understanding of that, so there may be a greater importance placed on other forms of sex or sexuality."