For a majority of couples, having a baby changes everything. Somehow it begins to feel like you wake up more than you go to sleep, all of a sudden sitting down to enjoy a meal is only something to fantasize about, and in the blink of an eye you and your partner aren’t talking about some interesting article you read or the last cool thing you watched on television, but are rather discussing whose turn it is to change a diaper or pace back and forth with an inconsolable bundle of joy. But, a new study from the mattress company Leesa breaks down one of the most common side effects of life after baby: having way less sex than you did before.
The survey asked about 1,000 parents a handful of questions about their sex life after having a baby, and it found that, for a lot of parents, the quality of sex goes way down after having a child. Despite the fact that certain acts of intimacy like cuddling or oral sex can increase in frequency post having a child, the Leesa survey found that not only does the all-around quality seem to diminish, but the desire to have sex diminishes greatly as well.
Unsurprisingly, the decrease in desire and the quality of sexual intercourse is greater for women, you know, the ones who just spent nine months with a whole other human being growing inside of them. 47 percent of the women who responded to the survey said that the quality of the sex got worse after children compared to 43 percent of men. Women were also less likely to say that there was no change (40 percent) than men (47 percent), yet 13 percent of them said that the quality of sex increased while only 10 percent of men gave the same answer.
The really massive disparities start to pop up when it comes to the actual feelings of sexual desire rather than the quality. 61 percent of women and only 30 percent of men said that they experienced decreased sexual desire. 51 percent of men versus only 28 percent of women reported no change, and as was the case with the quality of sex, the number of parents who said that they had increased sexual desire after having a child was extremely low. Only 18 percent of men compared to just 11 percent of women actually wanted sex more.
This disparity isn’t totally inexplicable. On a biological level, the person who carries the child has a very different experience than the person who doesn’t. When someone gives birth to a baby their bodies create more of a thing called oxytocin, which is the hormone responsible for feelings of love. Often when a person goes through the physical act of having a child, their need for intimacy is re-focused onto the child rather than their partner. Beyond that, a lot of fathers and mothers will attest to the fact that sex after a baby can be hard given that the child doesn’t just change the tactile rhythm of life, but often affects the way their partner feels about their body. That change can make men and women more nervous about what will happen physically.
There’s also the fact that, after having a baby, most new parents are just exhausted all the time whether they want to have sex or not, so most of the survey’s respondents said that they were fooling around less. Of those who had less sex, almost 60 percent of them were unhappy about it, while 43 percent were neutral or preferred it. Of those that reported having more sex, 79 percent said that they were satisfied with the change.
If the survey puts anything in perspective, it’s that there is no right or correct way to feel about sex after having a child. The act of having a new and totally dependent person in your life changes so much about how you feel about the other person and often changes how you feel about yourself. Do what’s right for you and try your best to not be too conflicted or guilty about not feeling like some sexual dynamo just yet.