Pregnancy and changes in female sexual desire: A review

Pamela C. Regan1, James L. Lyle2, Amy L. Otto3, Anupama Joshi1
1California State University, Los Angeles
2California State University, Dominguez Hills
3Albion College
Cite this article:  Regan, P., Lyle, J., Otto, A., & Joshi, A. (2003). Pregnancy and changes in female sexual desire: A review. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 31, 603-612.

Volume 31 Issue 6 | e1274 | Published: September 2003 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2003.31.6.603

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The recognition that sexual desire is associated with relationship quality and other important interpersonal experiences has led to a corresponding interest in identifying the correlates and causes of this aspect of human sexual response. Most researchers have focused on intraindividual factors, including hormonal processes. The present review explores the relationship between one hormonally mediated female life event - pregnancy - and sexual desire. Sexual desire is defined, and distinguished from other sexual experiences (e.g. arousal, activity), and its common operationalizations are discussed. Next, the hormonal changes that characterize each trimester of pregnancy are considered. Empirical research conducted to determine whether these hormonal changes correspond to alterations in the experience of desire is then reviewed. It is concluded that the hormonal fluctuations that occur during pregnancy are reliably associated with progressive decreases in feelings of sexual desire in the majority of women.
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