Hormones and Sexual Desire after Childbirth

A woman’s body endures much to experience the bliss of childbirth and parenthood. Because of all the body endures, women are not always in the mood for sex for a while after giving birth. Of course, there are several factors to consider. Not only is a woman’s body put to the ultimate test during their pregnancy, the mind and hormones also play a role in reducing sexual desire after childbirth.

Common Medical Recommendations

Following the birth of a child, women are advised not to engage in sexual intercourse for at least six weeks. A newborn typically has a checkup at this time, and the mother will have a well-woman checkup as well. This is to ensure proper healing after the birth, and to ensure that both mother and baby are healthy and progressing as expected. Doctors also advise this to prevent the possibility of successive pregnancies. Pregnancy takes a toll on the female body, and successive pregnancies are not exactly healthy for the mother, nor are they prime for providing the new baby with adequate nurturing and bonding before having to share attention with other siblings.

Post-Partum Preoccupations of the Mind

Following childbirth, most women immediately fall into that maternal instinct mode.

They become almost obsessive about their new babies, nurturing them and attending to all of their needs, causing the mothers to be tired, stressed, and lacking extra time for their partner, let alone feelings of sexual desire. For some women, there is the added aspect of feeling less than desirable themselves, as they have put on a few pounds during pregnancy, and odds are that a women tending to her baby will often appear tired and somewhat frumpy in her appearance, as there is little time for trivial things like fashion, makeup, and hair. When normal post-pregnancy preoccupations are compounded by post-partum depression, a woman is even less likely to experience the desire for sex after baby.

Hormones and Sex after Childbirth

During pregnancy, women experience major changes in hormone levels. These changes can trigger an increase in libido and then rapidly trigger a decrease within a short period. Post-partum depression is caused by many non-hormonal changes in a woman’s life, including lack of sleep, changes in work and social relationships, limited personal freedom, and worries about abilities as a mother. Other contributing factors include childbirth at a very young age, alcohol/substance abuse, a history or family history of mental illness, an unplanned pregnancy, experiencing a stressful event during pregnancy or delivery, relationship troubles, financial or housing problems, and lack of support. However, experts believe that fluctuating hormones after pregnancy may also play some role in post-partum depression.

Despite this expert opinion, there is still no evidence of measurable changes in hormone levels. Perhaps even the slightest fluctuation or the hormone roller coaster experienced during pregnancy throws off a woman’s chemistry enough to contribute to post-partum depression without showing significant signs of increased or decreased hormone levels. Still, we know that hormones play a role in pubescent behavior as well as female desire and emotions during menopause, so it is not a long shot to think that hormones also contribute to post-partum depression and a lack of sexual desire after childbirth.


Hormones and sexual desire, as well as post-partum depression, are touchy subjects for many women. They may not feel like themselves, might not understand what is going on with their minds and bodies and might very well be experiencing frustration and anger on top of depression. Many doctors often advise simply riding out the post-partum depression aspect with the help of a psychiatrist and anti-depressants. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it is not a solution that clearly addresses every concern. Anti-depressants cannot always improve mood to the point that sexual desire returns.

Hormone treatments are not yet widely used to address post-partum depression and lack of sexual desire; however, some doctors have begun practicing this in various parts of the world, and it might be a viable option for those whose loss of desire can be attributed to post-partum depression or hormone levels. In addition, it does not hurt for suffering mothers to find a support group of other mothers who have been through or are going through the same thing.

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