– By Megsanity, a shrink who actually knows stuff.
Are your kids killing your sex life? Yes. But not for the reasons you think.
When you take an infant home from the hospital, the future is full of possibilities. We consider the implications of less sleep for a few months, of additional costs for clothing or elaborate bassinets. We think about how we will raise them, or what lies ahead for us and our partner, as a team of new parents as opposed to simply a pair of people.
But we don’t often consider the stress on our sex drive.
While some women are rearing to go following that six week break from sexual activity, most others find themselves battling complete disinterest. This is often chalked up to exhaustion, or the stress of having a new baby. It isn’t until they show up at my office a year or two following birth, that they are ready to accept a different possibility.
“Am I not attracted to him anymore? Should I leave? Is it me?”
Nah, not really. It’s probably your kid.
See, humans evolved in a much different environment than the one we currently find ourselves in. That place was fraught with danger and unknown futures, where it was a safe bet that we had to pay more attention to each child. Junior couldn’t simply be laid in a crib for a nap, or left to play in his room while we frantically ran to the bathroom. Protection from saber-toothed tigers and hungry wolves required more constant observation than is currently necessary.
It also doesn’t help that our infants are particularly lazy (species-wise anyway). They cannot cling to us as we forage or assist themselves in any meaningful way. We have only so many hands, and highly dependent offspring means that we can only care for so many at once.
But why does any of this matter in terms of human sexual desire?
It turns out that we come equipped with an innate set of instructions that will increase the odds of infant survival by decreasing the number of infants one women bears within an allocated time frame.
So, how do you ensure that women will have fewer children in a shorter time period?
That’s easy: you just have to kill her sex drive.
Mother nature, you sneaky bitch.
Even today, women in indigenous cultures closer to the ones we evolved to live in have longer periods of infertility following childbearing, generally spacing births three to four years apart. This is far higher than American norms, but far closer to internal expectations. Part of the reason these patterns continue is the tendency of indigenous cultures to nurse infants for longer periods. This practice has always assisted early humans, not only in delaying ovulation, but also in removing the temptation of sexual activity during times where we needed to focus our resources (and those of our mate) on one offspring at a time.
While some women find themselves a little more amorous following weaning, this isn’t always the case, as simply being around your children can increase those hormones and decrease sexual desire based on the physical demands of your little ones.
Obviously, thousands of years of evolutionary process are unlikely to be wiped out due to current cultural or environmental pressures. While there may be other factors that contribute to this issue, it may help to understand that it isn’t really abnormal on the whole. It is not usually indicative of a relationship issue. It’s not you or your husband, or a lack of love even three years following birth.
It’s your lazy kids and the hormones that evolved in order to keep them alive. Remind them of that this Mother’s Day. We deserve more than chocolate.
Megsanity is the alias of a surprisingly young* real-life shrink who has spent the majority of the last ten years working as the clinical Director/Vice President of Clinical Operations for a JCAHO accredited mental health facility. She needed an anonymous outlet where it was acceptable to drop the F-bomb like it’s hot. So she started megsanity.com, a website devoted to women, psychology and expletives (subscribe, you’ll like it). You can also find her on Facebook.
*Meg is a genius who crushed school like Doogie Houser, but she doesn’t like to brag about it because on top of being freakishly smart, she’s also modest. -Kristen

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  1. I wish sneaky Mother Nature could find a way to squash the sex drive of our male counterparts for the exact same amount of time!

    • What I want to know is, why are women always told to ignore our own feelings and oblige our husband’s desires to keep the marriage strong and healthy, but men are never told to stifle their urges in response to their wife’s desires (or lack thereof)? Why is it the woman who has to bend? Why do we continue to encourage the primal needs of men and ignore our own desires for personal space? So our husbands won’t cheat? To keep their love? Like men have no control over their own actions? AND WHY IS NO ONE ASKING THESE QUESTIONS?

    • It’s a societal thing. Patriarchal societies function within the realm of belittling women in varying and often subtle ways, even if it simply the things we omit from questioning. I used to tell couples, “He has two hands…and if he sits on one long enough it will be like someone else is doing it. Try embracing other forms of intimacy”. I would say that made me less popular, but I was equally likely to discuss tantra as a way to increase orgasmic bliss for both, so I think that helped my popularity. I think there is usually just unmet needs for intimacy that can be found in other places to improve connectedness and attachment/bonding, but it takes people awhile to see beyond the immediate “we need to have sex’.

  2. Anonymous

    Kristen Mae. You took the words right out of my mouth!

    • Just FYI, this is a guest post, written by Meg Sanity. (unless you’re talking about the comment above, and in that case oh, okay.) =)

  3. This is something few people discuss openly. I knew nursing would diminish sex drive, but sometimes I did wonder if something was wrong with me. Thanks for the explanation. 🙂

    • I think many women wonder what is wrong with them (unnecessarily). It is often a huge relief just to have it discussed.

  4. Wow, this was really enlightening. I now have something to blame my sexual disinterestedness on other than my Ice Princess Vagina. 😉 Seriously, thank you for sharing this. And I agree, that most men are begging and needling us for sex because they’re missing overall intimacy. It’s just that if we give them cuddles, kisses, and hugs, the next natural step for them is “does this mean we’re gonna do it?” So I am less likely to do any canoodling because I don’t have time to be noodled. 😉

    • That’s a whole other post, isn’t it, Ashley? Dear men: if you wouldn’t stick your boner in our thigh every time we hug you, we might hug you more often. JUST A THOUGHT.