Introduction: Healthy sexual function during pregnancy and after childbirth is one of the cornerstones for couples to evolve from partners to parents.
Aim: The aim of our review is to evaluate the available evidence and define present knowledge about female sexual function during pregnancy and after childbirth.
Methods: PubMed was searched for articles on sexual function during pregnancy and after childbirth, published from 1960 up to date. The most relevant articles have been reviewed and included.
Main outcome measures: The main outcome is the review of the effect of pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum on female sexuality.
Results: A total of 48 articles which specifically addressed this topic were included. Sexual function was found to have a significant global decline during pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester and this persisted for 3-6 months following delivery. The lack of adequate information about sex in pregnancy and concerns about the possible adverse obstetric outcomes are the most relevant factors responsible for the avoidance of sexual activity during pregnancy. Breast-feeding, dyspareunia, and postpartum pelvic floor dysfunction were reported as possible causes for the delay in resuming sexual intercourses after childbirth.
Conclusions: Couples should be informed about the decline of libido, desire and orgasm, commonly encountered during pregnancy, particularly in the last trimester, and puerperium which may lead to reduction in sexual intercourse frequency.
© 2010 International Society for Sexual Medicine.