Descriptive data on sexual behaviors in the last month, as reported at Times 1, 2, 3, and 4, are shown in Table 1.

The percentage of couples who engage in intercourse in any given month is about 90%, except at Time 2, 1 month postpartum, when the majority have not yet resumed intercourse. The frequency of intercourse is estimated somewhat higher by women than by men, and is about 5 times per month on average during pregnancy and at 4 and 12 months postpar­tum; it is strikingly low, as expected, at 1 month postpartum.

The percentage of men who masturbate in a month holds relatively constant at about 43% at each time. The percentage for women is lower, and is especially low 1 month postpartum. The question on frequency of masturbation was asked only at Time 4; the frequency was considerably higher for men than for women. The incidence of cunnilingus is about 45% at Time 3 and 4, but is slightly lower at Time 1, and is especially low, about 7%, at 1 month postpartum. It should be noted that there is one potential health risk associated with cunnilingus during pregnancy. Some women enjoy having their partner blow air forcefully into the vagina. When used on a pregnant woman, this technique has been known to cause damage to the placenta, and embolism, apparently as a result of air getting into the uterine veins (Sadock & Sadock, 1976).

The incidence of fellatio shows close agreement in mothers’ and fa­thers’ reports, and is fairly constant at 45%, except that it drops to about 35% at 1 month postpartum.

TABLE 1

Sexual Behaviors in the Last Month, Reported by Mothers and Fathers During Pregnancy and the Year Postpartum

Pregnancy 2nd trimester

Postpartum

Variable

1 mo.

4 mo.

12 mo.

Had intercourse Mothers

90%

19%

90%

92%

Fathers

85%

14%

87%

89%

Mean frequency of intercourse/month Mothers

5.47

.51

5.25

5.29

Fathers

4.29

.34

4.51

3.87

Masturbated

Mothers

25%

11%

18%

20%

Fathers

41%

43%

44%

45%

Mean frequency of masturbation Mothers

NA

NA

NA

.58

Fathers

NA

NA

NA

2.30

Fellatio

Mothers

45%

35%

46%

48%

Fathers

40%

32%

43%

42%

Cunnilingus

Mothers

34%

8%

42%

48%

Fathers

30%

6%

43%

45%

Petting

Mothers

93%

66%

91%

93%

Fathers

87%

60%

86%

89%

Satisfaction with sexual relationship Mothers

3.82

3.36

3.42

3.64

Fathers

3.49

3.12

3.37

3.42

Decreased sexual desire Mothers

1.71

1.65

1.19

.83

Note. NA = question not asked at that time. All questions were asked for a time frame of the last month. Satisfaction was rated on a scale from 1 (very dissatisfied) to 5 (very satisfied). Decreased sexual desire was rated on a scale from 0 (never) to 4 (almost always).

Although there is a slight dip in satisfaction with the sexual rela­tionship at 1 month postpartum, both men and women, on the average, are moderately satisfied with their sexual relationship at all times.

The question regarding sexual desire was part of a different question­naire administered to women only. The results indicate that the decreased sexual desire was fairly common both during the middle trimester of preg­nancy and at 1 month postpartum, as expected. There were fewer reports of decreased desire at 4 months postpartum and still fewer at 12 months postpartum, when 56% of the women reported that they never experienced decreased sexual desire.

According to the women’s retrospective reports at 12 months post­partum, couples resumed intercourse, on average, 7.33 weeks postpartum, but there was wide variability; 19% of the couples had resumed intercourse within the first month after birth, whereas 19% did not resume until 4 months after the birth or later.