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TUESDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Most first-time mothers wait more than six weeks after childbirth before having sex again, a new study finds.
Australian researchers examined data from more than 1,500 women and found that 41 percent of these new mothers attempted vaginal sex by six weeks after giving birth, 65 percent by eight weeks, 78 percent by 12 weeks and 94 percent by six months.
Although most of the women waited longer before having vaginal sex, 53 percent of them resumed some form of sexual activity within six weeks, according to the study, which was published Feb. 27 in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Women aged 30 to 34 were much less likely than those aged 18 to 24 to resume vaginal sex by six weeks after giving birth: 40 percent versus 63 percent.
Women who had a cesarean section, a birth assisted with forceps or an episiotomy or sutured tear also were less likely to have resumed vaginal sex by six weeks after birth. The rates were 45 percent for those who had a C-section, 32 percent for those who had a forceps-assisted birth, 32 percent for those who had an episiotomy and 35 percent for those who had a sutured tear. In comparison, 60 percent of women who had spontaneous vaginal birth with intact perineum resumed sex within six weeks.
Only about 10 percent of first-time mothers will have a vaginal birth and an intact perineum, according to the study, so it's reasonable for most women and their partners to expect a delay in resuming vaginal sex, the researchers said.
"The most important finding from the study is the wide time interval over which couples resume sex after childbirth," study lead author Stephanie Brown, an associate professor at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Victoria, said in a journal news release. "Most couples do not resume sex until after six to eight weeks postpartum, and many delay much longer than this."
"This is useful information for couples to know before their baby is born, and may help reduce feelings of anxiety and guilt about not resuming sexual activity sooner," she said.
John Thorp, the journal's deputy editor-in-chief, said in the news release: "It is very common for women and their partners to want information about when sexual activity may be safely and comfortably resumed, and what to expect in relation to the impact of childbirth on their relationship."
"It is important to remember that these decisions are down to the individual couple and when it feels right for them," he said.
The American College of Nurse-Midwives has more about recovering from pregnancy.