Sex As A Coping Strategy: It’s Good For Your Mental Health, Your Relationship And Your Physical Health.

One of the themes I emphasis in my practice is, while postpartum depression (PPD) is a frustrating and debilitating illness, there are coping strategies that can help the new mom better navigate the journey and find wellness at its conclusion. (See Chapter 8 Finding Ways to Heal in my book, Happy Endings, New Beginnings: Navigating Postpartum Illness)

One of my favorite coping strategies — and oftentimes the most resisted — is have more sex.

When I offer that prescription, some patients look at me as if I’ve lost my mind; while others simply roll their eyes. I know what they’re thinking because they’re not hesitant in telling me: “I have no interest in sex. My libido is low. I’m already exhausted, anxious, and depressed. Sex is the last thing on my mind.”

Or, it’s a variation on a common women’s mantra: “I’m too depressed, anxious and/or out of shape, why would my husband/partner want to have sex with me?”

And, there’s this: “What if sex would bring another child? That’s not something I want to think about right now.”

Also, there’s this unspoken feeling: I’m a mom now. It’s unseemly to think of myself as flirtatious or sexy.”

I empathize with these feelings, but then bring in scientific data that I include in my book, “Happy Endings.. Navigating Postpartum Disorders”: There is some evidence that the neurotransmitters secreted during sex, like oxytocin, can help mood as well as couple bonding. These chemicals can improve a sense of
well-being and forge a mutual connection between the new mom and her partner.

Oxytocin also plays an important role in childbirth, labor, and breast-feeding and is largely responsible for bonding and attachment with the baby.

The strong correlation between staying sexually active and remaining physically healthy has been known for some time. Recent claims by sex researchers indicate that women who have sexual relations and experience orgasm feel improved mental health and decreased depression as well.

Finally, a growing body of evidence, including that by the Kinsey institute, suggests that it may also play a role in alleviating PPD. So, my prescription is this: Make time for sex; it will help you and your partner not only get closer, but also, help you both feel better.

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~ by ppdsus on March 19, 2014.

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