New Research: Sexual well-being often changes over the course of romantic relationships and can differ between romantic partners, but are these changes unique to the transition to parenthood or do all couples experience these declines? Dr. Dawson and her colleagues at Dalhousie University and York University recently published a study to answer these questions.

Schwenck, G. C., Dawson, S. J., Muise, A., & Rosen, N. O. (in press). A Comparison of the
Sexual Well-Being of New Parents With Community Couples. The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

In this paper we compared the sexual well-being—sexual frequency, sexual satisfaction, sexual
desire, sexual distress—of first-time mothers and their partners (n = 99) to a sample community
couples (n = 104) who were not in the transition to parenthood. Compared with community
couples, new parents reported lower sexual satisfaction, lower sexual desire, and higher sexual
distress at 3, 6, and 12 months postpartum; however, these group differences became less
pronounced by 12 months postpartum. By 6 months postpartum, there was no difference in
sexual frequency between couples. Mothers experienced persistently lower sexual desire relative
to their partners at all time points. Between 39% and 59% of mothers reported clinically low
sexual desire, and 47–57% reported clinically significant sexual distress at all time points.
Clinicians should be aware that sexual well-being may be compromised in new parents, and
some of these challenges are still present for new parents at 12 months postpartum. Findings can
be used to educate new parents regarding their expectations about postpartum sexual well-being.