The Impact of Pregnancy and Childbirth on Sexual Behaviors: A Systematic Review

Sofia Jawed-Wessel, Emily Sevick

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


The purpose of this review was to examine and synthesize the available quality evidence to provide researchers, educators, and clinicians an overview of what is known about sexual behaviors during pregnancy and the year after childbirth. Search engines were used to identify peer-reviewed, English-language articles that met the inclusion criteria. A total of 56 prospective, retrospective, and qualitative studies published after 1996 were reviewed. A gradual decline in vaginal intercourse from prepregnancy to first trimester to third trimester was found. Most couples resume vaginal intercourse by eight weeks after childbirth, but this behavior does not occur at prepregnancy frequencies until closer to 12 months postchildbirth. Future studies should consider assessing sexual behaviors beyond vaginal intercourse and increase efforts in recruitment of diverse samples including non-White, nonheterosexual pregnant individuals, and partners of pregnant individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)411-423
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Sex Research
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - Jun 13 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Psychology
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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