Introduction. Pregnancy and childbirth is a special period in a woman's life, which involves significant physical, hormonal, psychological, social, and cultural changes that may influence her own sexuality as well as the health of a couple's sexual relationship.
Aim. To comprehensively review the literature on the effects of pregnancy and the postpartum period on a couple's sexual health and well-being.
Main Outcome Measures. Evidence from the published literature of the impact of pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period on sexual function.
Methods. Medline and PubMed search for relevant publications on the effects of pregnancy and childbirth on sexual health and function, with particular focus on the physical, hormonal, psychological, social, and cultural changes that may occur during the antepartum, intrapartum, and postpartum period.
Results. Despite fears and myths about sexual activity during pregnancy, maintaining a couple's sexual interactions throughout pregnancy and the postpartum period can promote sexual health and well-being and a greater depth of intimacy.
Conclusions. Clinicians must seek to engage in an open discussion and provide anticipatory guidance for the couple on expected changes in sexual health as well as promote the design of rigorous, evidence-based studies to further elucidate our understanding of sexual function during pregnancy and the postpartum. Johnson CE. Sexual health during pregnancy and the postpartum. J Sex Med 2011;8:1267–1284.