Today I gave a talk about regaining sexuality post-baby at the first women’s sexuality conference ever held in Singapore. I felt really lucky to be part of it, and to share what I’ve learned. The truth is that many, far too many pregnancy/post-childbirth books dismiss sexuality. Very little effort or thought is given to the notion of sexuality and keeping an intimate relationship with your partner. Far too little, especially as the number one reason cited for divorce is “we grew apart” and that the growing apart often is dated back to when the couple started having children. Granted a lot of sexuality is very individual and subjective, but it would be nice for books to take a minute and talk about the physical side of things. How a drop in estrogen causes vaginal dryness akin to when women enter menopause. That six weeks is an average and that a healing scar and the way the scar tissue forms can actually be quite painful for an extended period of time–and that there are some options out there. That an overzealous doctor may have sewn you up a little too well. That sex may be painful the first few times, just like when you lost your virginity. That fatigue is a libido killer. That breastfeeding, while an incredibly positive experience overall, can contribute to the low estrogen (for a more prolonged period of time than for those who do not breastfeed) and the low sex drive…thanks to 50k years of evolutionary biology that thinks sex=another baby=neither baby will survive. That biology hasn’t caught up with technology. Knowing this, having this sort of information is empowering because it allows you to process a lack of libido/a painful sexual experience in the post partum period not as “OMG I’m not attracted to my husband anymore” but instead “Oh, vaginal dryness=painful sex. It’s not about attraction, it’s biology. And hey–I can get water-based lube at the grocery store/ pharmacy.” Some of what prevents us from regaining our mojo is emotional–a shift in identity, learning to relate to your partner as a dad (and still maintaining your relationship as a couple separate from your relationship as parents), a struggle to accept changes in your post partum belly, and of course, PPD. Those often need the assistance of a trained therapist, time, patience, and a lot of effort to work through. But it is so worth it. Parents deserve a great sex life, too.
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