As a family physician, I speak with many women who express concerns about how their lives change once they have children. As a mother I know this is true. I have always taken a holistic approach with my patients, and want to be responsive when a mother or father asks questions. Should children share the family bed? How to cope with stress and juggling a busy life? What to do about birth control after a baby?
All of these concerns can affect intimacy and relationships. Parents can't be spontaneous the way they once were before they had children.
In a new survey, couples from Ontario have experienced both a drop in frequency and in spontaneous encounters, and these numbers were significant. The survey also pointed out the bedroom is no longer a place for couples and intimacy. Consider the fact that prior to having children, 81 per cent of Ontario couples would have sex once or more per week -- this level of activity is now hovering around only 56 per cent.
It's no secret that these everyday worries are a mood-killer, but many of my patients don't always recognize that worries about contraception can create an additional barrier. In the survey, one in four couples stated that birth control is a barrier to spontaneity due to concerns about unplanned pregnancy or the "in the heat of the moment" hassles. Interestingly, I think that this number could be even higher.
Contraception is important for all women of childbearing age. As a family doctor I encourage women to be careful about STDs and always choose appropriate contraception. After having children, one of the concerns is the difficulty of timing with taking the pill on regular basis. One of the newer concepts in birth control is called a LARC -- or a long acting reversible contraceptive -- for example, a hormonal intrauterine device (or IUD) called Mirena. This doesn't need daily attention and for busy mums that can be a huge benefit.
I also have three tips that I call the "Three R's of reviving your sex life" and they are great for couples with kids who are looking to regain the sense of freedom they had before children. Although it sounds contradictory to plan for spontaneity, it's real life.
1. Reschedule your calendars ... Its' important to make time for you and your partner so your relationship is the priority at least some of the time. Whether it's date night or a pre-planned activity, let's pay attention to your relationship.
2. Reclaim the bedroom...let's stop using the bedroom for finishing office work on the laptop, sending messages on your phone, watching TV (except Game of Thrones), or having snacks, and use that time to be in connected with your partner.
3. Rethink your contraception: There are many birth control options available to women right now and it is important that women understand all of them so that they can chose the best one for them. A LARC may be a good choice for you.
Communication is often the key. It's important to speak with your partner and doctor about how to best improve your sex life, and make the best choice for your lifestyle. I suggest my patients talk with their partners about the best way to improve not only their sex life but their relationship, because a strong partnership will mean strong parents.