Q: My husband and I had an amazing sex life until we had our baby. After she was born we both still wanted it, but it’s different now. It’s almost impossible for me to orgasm. It’s frustrating for both of us. I’ve been to the doctor. She says everything is fine. It’s been a year. It’s not getting better. I feel like I’m failing at sex.
A: Congratulations on your 1-year-old and your supportive husband! As a person who has deep emotional ties to their orgasms and to their parenthood, I know what it’s like to try to manage both, and the first year is the most difficult for many post-partum people.
During pregnancy and birth, your body and your organs moved around. You grew an organ and then shed it during birth, (your placenta) which is nothing to be sneezed at. You had many lbs of pressure pushing down on your organs and bones, and that can change the function or appearance of body parts. We know that pregnancy can alter how our bodies look, and yet we forget that this can change how things feel. I had a difficult time breastfeeding, and my nipples were off-limits to my daughter’s father until she was weaned, because it just didn’t feel good for them to be touched for the first two years of her life!
Sex therapists tell me that the most common population of people who have trouble with arousal or orgasm are working women with children. Kids, labor and relationships require energy, which new parents don’t always have. Also, the constant diapering and crying of a new baby can drive a serious wedge into a person’s ability to fantasize about sex or to relax enough to enjoy it.
I believe that you will orgasm again, but that will happen after you’ve stopped trying so hard to get there, and focusing on the goal rather than the journey will add to your self-imposed pressure.
What kind of sensual touch can you enjoy with your husband or by yourself? Try reading a "trashy" romance novel, I recently learned that women who read erotica report much more sexual satisfaction and fantasy in their lives. If the things that worked for you before aren’t even getting you close now; consider this a point in your sexual timeline that is always evolving. Your sex life today is probably different than it was five years ago, and it could be very different in another week, year, or decade. Give yourself permission to explore what feels new.
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