Some women worry that having a vaginal delivery might wreak havoc on their long-term ability to enjoy sex. However, a new study has found that the method of delivery--vaginal, Cesarean or vaginal with forceps or vacuum--appears to have little impact on sexual activity one year after childbirth. But the study did find that a woman's sex life before delivery predicted what it would be like afterward.
Dutch researchers surveyed 377 women about their sex lives at 12 weeks into the pregnancy and at one year postpartum and found that those who were not having sex early in the pregnancy were 11 times more likely to be sexually inactive one year after childbirth. "This probably implies that satisfaction with the relationship is an important factor," says study author H.J. van Brummen, M.D., a researcher at University Medical Center Utrecht. The study should reassure women who give birth vaginally that, except in rare cases, physical factors following childbirth shouldn't affect sexual functioning. The scientists had guessed that undergoing a C-section would have less of an impact on later sexual functioning compared with vaginal delivery. "But there was no scientific evidence for that," van Brummen says. "Our study should resolve some of this fear [about vaginal delivery]."