Objective: Pregnancy and postpartum are stages in a woman’s life associated to important psychological and physiological changes that can affect her sexual behaviour. In addition, some sociodemographic and obstetric factors can also alter the sexual response. The aim of this study is to evaluate the modifications in sexual behaviour before, during and after pregnancy in a group of Spanish pregnant women and the factors that may be associated.
Materials and methods: A prospective study was performed on 111 healthy pregnant women who completed a questionnaire about their sexual habits (including coital and orgasm frequency, satisfaction and pain during intercourse) prior to gestation, at 20, 30 and 38 weeks, and at three and six months postpartum. Data regarding sociodemographic variables (maternal age, marital status and parental educational level) and obstetric variables (parity) were also included.
Results: The frequency of sexual activity declined progressively during pregnancy compared with pre-pregnancy levels, with a partial recovery six months after childbirth (p < 0.001). Orgasm frequency (p < 0.006), satisfaction (p < 0.001) and dyspareunia (p < 0.016) also changed, but these declined especially in the last weeks before delivery. Overall, women 30 years or younger, nulliparous, unmarried and women with primary education showed better results in the variables of sexuality while father’s education level had little effect.
Conclusion: A deep understanding of the changes in sexuality during pregnancy and postpartum is needed to provide couples with information about the normal aspects of their sexuality and to detect sexual dysfunction in these periods.