Parents and child sleeping

Help! I’m a New Father. What Happened to My Sex Drive?

Highlights:

  • Research shows testosterone levels decline in new fathers.
  • New dads with low T levels are less sexually active than others. 
  • Low testosterone may be indirectly linked to erectile dysfunction in men.
  • Hormones are not the only cause of lower libido in new fathers.
  • New dads have to adjust their expectations to enjoy intimacy. 

“It’s your turn,” you hear her whisper in the middle of the night. Half asleep, you get up and pick up the baby. This is not the first and not the last time you will wake up tonight. And the alarm clock is set for 6:30 because you must go to work.

This is the reality of new fathers everywhere. Yes, women bear the brunt of childbearing, but many modern dads want to share parenting responsibilities. And the joys of early parenthood come at a price.

While men’s libido is stable throughout pregnancy, when the baby is born, desire levels tend to drop in both parents. Studies show significant changes in men’s testosterone levels starting in the first weeks postpartum. Could this be the reason why new dads lose interest in sex?

Men’s libido is stable during pregnancy

Study Reveals Testosterone Changes in Fathers

The Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey is a long-term project conducted in the Philippines. In 2009, researchers examined a cohort of young men who had recently become fathers. The results give us new insights on male sexuality in the postpartum period.

As it turns out, all fathers had lower testosterone levels compared to childless men (on average -26 percent in the morning and -34 percent in the evening). T levels were significantly lower in fathers of newborns and infants.

Moreover, men who were actively involved in childcare had a bigger drop in testosterone compared to dads who did not take on childcare responsibilities.

Testosterone and Male Sexual Functioning

Testosterone is known as the “macho hormone.” The substance is responsible for risk taking and plays a role in mating behavior, for example, the search for new sexual partners.

  • Low T may lead to a drop in libido. Scientists dug deep into the Cebu study data and confirmed that the male hormone played a critical role in male sexual behavior.

    What they saw was a link between T levels and sexual activity. New dads with the lowest testosterone reported having intercourse less frequently than fathers who experienced a milder T decline.

  • Indirect link between low T and erectile dysfunction. Testosterone is an important piece of a puzzle in men’s sexual functioning. Although it is not directly responsible for erectile dysfunction, low T levels could lead to a drop in libido.

    Men with insufficient levels of the hormone may feel tired and low on energy. Their emotional state could lead to erectile difficulties.

Testosterone is sometimes called the “macho hormone”
  • Low T might lead to postpartum depression in men. Most new parents don’t realize that postpartum depression can affect fathers as well as mothers. Dropping testosterone levels could be one of the causes. According to a systematic study review, testosterone replacement therapy is effective in the treatment of depression in men.

    Postpartum depression affects all areas of life, including sexual functioning. Depressive states are typically associated with low libido and reduced self-esteem. These could manifest in the form of erectile dysfunction.

    To make things worse, some antidepressants have ED among its side effects. Luckily, modern treatments with Viagra, Cialis or similar medication can help.

Why New Dads Might Lose Interest

Low testosterone is not the only reason behind low libido in new fathers. The complex life, relationship, and emotional changes also impact sexuality.

  • Sleep quality affects relationship mood. Caring for a small baby means a total disruption of sleep patterns. Waking up several times at night and surviving on just a few hours of sleep takes its toll on the relationship. Without proper rest, men’s desire levels drop.
  • New responsibilities can cause distress for dads. Fathers are often forgotten in the discussion about the burdens of childcare. And this is challenging for them too!

    In some families, dads become the sole breadwinner. Even if both parents work, the financial strains grow, and the stress of losing a job is higher. None of this is conducive to high desire.

Sleep deprivation can be a serious problem for new fathers
  • Men may not want to pressure their partners. Some dads feel strong empathy with their partners — so strong that sex can seem too much to ask.

    They worry that intercourse might be painful for the woman. Or they observe the emotional roller coaster of new motherhood and don’t want to add sexual demands to their partner’s already full plate.

A short-term decline in sexual activity is normal for new parents. It is, however, important to keep intimacy alive in that challenging period. Here are some tips to light the spark again.

Enjoying Sex as New Parents

To have satisfying sex as a new father, you must come to terms with one simple fact: it will be different. Your life has changed for good, and it’s time to adapt to the new situation.

  • Take care of yourself. The more balance you create in your hectic life, the easier it will be to get your desire back. Sleep whenever you can; nap during the day if possible. Don’t give up on your fitness routine, although you may have to make some adjustments (those daily morning runs may have to wait). Eat well and stay hydrated.
  • Do a reality check. Do you like to make love for hours? Or maybe you enjoy romantic weekend getaways? Sorry to disappoint you, but that may not be possible for a while. Babies require 24/7 care, and if your partner chooses to breastfeed, she will have to be there whenever the little one is hungry.

    Check what is possible in your life right now. If you can afford it, arrange babysitting to reclaim some undisturbed lovers’ time, but expect the unexpected. Kids get sick all the time. Plans may need to be cancelled. Stay positive and look for opportunities to nurture intimacy. Quickies are your best friend now!

No time for sex? Try a quickie in the shower!
  • Plan for spontaneous sex. It may sound contradictory, but for new parents, scheduling intimate time is the best chance to have some fun. Leave the spontaneity not for when, but for what you decide to do on your pre-arranged date.

    Don’t put the task “sex” on your calendar. That kind of pressure can lead to ED on your part or to low libido in your partner.

    If one of you is not in the mood to go all the way, find creative ways to get intimate. A sensual massage always works. Or you may want to watch some porn together and get inspired for next time!

  • Talk to her. Good communication is key to a satisfying sex life in the baby years. If you feel like you’re constantly fighting instead of having productive conversations, get professional help from a couples’ counselor.
  • Get treatment for sexual problems. If you notice difficulties, such as prolonged low desire or erectile dysfunction, find help as soon as possible.

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