Changes in sexual relationships in postpartum couples

J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. Jan-Feb 1986;15(1):58-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1552-6909.1986.tb01369.x.


To assess perceived changes in intimacy and sexuality in postpartum couples, an Intimate Relationship Scale was developed, tested for reliability (alpha = 0.86), and administered by mail. Sixty-eight, middle-class couples responded at four months postpartum and 126 couples at 12 months postpartum. Data revealed declines in the frequency of and desire for sexual activity, especially for mothers, when compared to sexual activity before the infant's birth. At four months postpartum, most women reported physical discomfort with sexual intercourse, a decline in physical strength, dissatisfaction with bodily appearance, and fatigue which interfered with sex. Strategies and techniques to promote and maintain intimacy and sexuality in postpartum couples are suggested to assist their transition to parenthood and may positively influence parenting behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Image
  • Coitus
  • Drive
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexual Behavior*