A pregnant woman in her underwear, holding her stomach with both hands
Illustration by Marta Pucci

4 Tips for Helping With Your Postpartum Sex Drive

Photo of Dr Katherine Hertlein
Reviewed by Dr Katherine Hertlein,
created by Blueheart
created by Josh Green
created by Sophie Browness
Date published:
Last updated:
Photo of Dr Katherine Hertlein
Reviewed by Dr Laura Vowels,
created by Blueheart
created by Josh Green
created by Sophie Browness
Date published:
Last updated:

Having a baby is a life-changing experience, you've welcomed in a little version of you into the world, and they didn't come quietly. With all the changes we expect to happen - no sleep, poop and pee everywhere, and lots and lots of laundry - there are some changes that people don't seem to talk about.

Along with role changes in your relationship, and 2 becoming 3, or more, the one thing that many people don't consider is the changes that occur in postpartum sex drive.

Many women experience changes in libido postpartum. There is no perfect time to start having sex again, you'll usually get the OK from your doctor after six weeks, but some may take longer. Considering your body has been through a lot and that you haven't really slept since, it's absolutely normal and OK if you don't feel like jumping back into sex just yet.

Different couples wait all different amounts of time before having sex postpartum.

No matter what you're experiencing, it's important to remember this: It's okay to have a low sex drive postpartum. You only have to return to sex when you can and want to. However if you want to return to your previous sex-driven, we have some tips for you.

A lowered libido can be caused by any number of things, from general tiredness to the production of oxytocin by the body. There are a plethora of chemical and logical reasons why you just might not want to have sex.

However, a lowered libido is always difficult for a couple to navigate. So what can you do?

If you've been experiencing — or worry about experiencing — a lowered libido, you've come to the right place. This article will walk you through all you need to know to understand and regain sexual desire postpartum.

1. Get checked out

While lowered libido is extremely common (the number one sexual complaint among U.S. women), it's still important to get approved by a doctor whether you will be having sex or not in the near future. Lowered libido could be the result of an injury or hormonal imbalance, so if you're comfortable, consider having your gynaecologist or doctor check you out and clear you for sexual activity.

Make sure that your doctor is truly hearing you out. Don't take dismissive answers by doctors that just insist "that's how it is" after childbirth. Make sure your doctor handles your situation with the specificity it deserves. No question is a silly question.

Dads are affected too

Our bodies are much smarter than we give them credit for. Research suggests that there's a change in a male's physiology after his partner gives birth as well. Science has proven that fathers experience dips in testosterone levels and libido after interacting with their children.

So why are fathers affected by childbirth if they don't use their bodies in the creation of the baby?

Well, it's because the lowered libido serves a purpose. Think about it — biologically, libido is designed to get humans to want to have sex so that they can procreate. After a baby has already been had, the body isn't going to prioritize having more babies right away; instead, it's going to slow you down so you can take care of the baby that's already out in the world.

Dads are also stressed and tired from taking care of the new baby, which again affects sexual desire. Don't feel rushed to jump back into the sexual world until you start to feel right again.

Make sure it's right

Always listen to your body, but also your mind. You may feel frustrated if you're not able to have sex right now, but it's better than forcing yourself into doing something that won't feel comfortable.  

There are several phases of the postpartum period. Perhaps you can wait until a later period and try again.

2. Try masturbation

If masturbation is too much for you, then Sensate Focus at point 4 below could be perfect for you.

If you're experiencing a lack of sex drive postpartum, it may sound strange to read this header. However, masturbation can help you with your postpartum sex drive by getting the ball rolling. Again, only if you're comfortable and want to.

Think of trying masturbation as going back to basics. By trying masturbation, you're getting in touch with your sexuality through your mind and body, going at your own pace. Your genitals may feel different and when you're ready, it's good to explore them in their new just as beautiful form.

It can also help you navigate the feeling of loss that comes with missing out on having sex with your partner. Always trust the limits that your body puts up, however, and only go as far as you feel comfortable. If it's not for you right now, no pressure.

This goes for men too

For men experiencing a low sex drive — you can also take some time for yourself. No matter what option you go with, it's important to make sure that you and your partner are on the same page.  

All this being said, it's difficult to gain the desire to try masturbating when you have a low sex drive. Only try masturbating if you're comfortable with doing so, and there are other ways to introduce touch and intimacy that may suit postpartum couples a little better, see Sensate Focus.

3. Communicate

Communication should be a key feature of all sex. However, it's especially important when trying to get back into the swing of things after a time apart.

If and when you do try to have sex, make sure you're letting your partner know loud and clear what is and isn't working. Be as open and honest as possible, so your body and brain can remember just how lovely and healing they are.

Make sure you're never pushing through any pain when you're having sex. If it's uncomfortable, give yourself permission to stop right away. It may be helpful to invest in some lubrication, if you're finding friction or dryness.

Understand that your relationship dynamics will be different now you have a baby, and that of course, both of your bodies will change in some ways, but that it's not the end for your sex life.

You have new responsibilities for both your body and your mind, and they are going to take up real estate in your head (as well they should!) But it doesn't mean romance, sex or anything else has to be pushed out to make room. It's all about learning to manage being a parent, a partner and of course, being you. You can grow and change with your body and circumstances, to continue having a satisfying sex life.

One of the worst parts of having low libido is the sensation of feeling trapped in your head — the feeling of not being able to connect with your partner because there's so much to distract you. Connecting in other respects could help counteract the problems with libido.

4. Sensate focus

Sensate Focus has helped millions of people to overcome the problem of libido with a little bit of science. Sensate focus is a type of sex therapy that focuses on the process of touching and being touched. It works on sensual feelings as opposed to sexual feelings, helping you feel stimulation not just in your genitals, but all over your body. You'll learn to manage anxious thoughts like body worries, what chores you have to do, what the other person is thinking, and make way for your body to just do its thing uninterrupted. This leads to more pleasurable experiences.

This type of sex therapy focuses completely on the touch and asks that participants stay away from penetrative sex while doing the exercises, until you get further along in your plan, so this is the perfect way to build back up to sex in a fun and low pressure way.

The aim of sensate focus is to cause a temporary paradigm shift in the brain and how it views sex. It's often used to treat erectile dysfunction, orgasm disorders, and even sexual anxiety. People who undergo sensate focus report feeling more connected to themselves and to their partner post-sex.

But where are you to find a good sensate focus instructor? What if you're not comfortable with face to face sex therapy?

Thankfully, there's an answer. Much of the science behind Blueheart focuses on sensate focus. In the 21st century, we have more options than ever to help us face the various problems life throws at us. Blueheart can help walk you through the exercises you need to go through to continue your intimate life at your own pace, without the pressure of face-to-face interaction with a therapist.

If you have trouble talking to your doctor about your sex life, Blueheart can help you with that too. Just read our guide on talking to your doctor about libido. The presence of technology makes it easier than ever to proceed at a pace you're comfortable with.

Increase your postpartum sex drive

(If and when you feel like it)

A lowered libido can be frustrating for everyone and put a strain on a part of your life that's already difficult. You are not alone at all – trust us, ask fellow parents.

Thankfully, there are tools to help you fight a low sex drive. Talk to your doctor, set aside some time for masturbation, communicate with your partner, and consider sensate focus to help you gain control of your sex life. As always, make sure you only do what you're comfortable with, and always prioritize your pleasure. We're here for you whenever you need us, whether that's from your 6 week A OK check with your doctor, months or years down the line, we'll be here.

For more information, check out our app today.

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