parent opinion

'Becoming a mother destroyed my sex drive - completely.'

Life moved fast when I met my husband. 

Within a year of our first date, we had bought a house together. And within another year I stopped taking the Pill, and was pregnant almost instantly.

The passionate, can’t-keep-our-hands-off-each-other stage ended abruptly when the stick turned blue; we didn’t even notice at the time.

Watch: Questions about childbirth (answered by mums and non-mums). Post continues below. 

Video via Mamamia.

Mine was a planned pregnancy, but it did not turn out the way I expected. 

I was almost instantly uncomfortable. I was bloated before I even had a bump, swollen all over. I had constant headaches. I feared miscarriage to the paranoid point that I was afraid even to have gentle sex. 

We got married six months into the pregnancy, and our wedding night was the only time we actually had penetrative sex in the whole of the pregnancy. I didn’t even stop to think this might be unusual. 

After the wedding, I gave myself over to the discomfort of my ungainly, difficult pregnancy. 

I sat on the sofa and ate ice cream. I felt myself disappear. I was neither happy nor unhappy; neither depressed nor elated. I felt like I existed only to bring a baby into the world. 


But I did not have time to think about it deeply, because my new son was so very demanding. 

So demanding, in fact, that we soon clocked that his constant crying could not be normal. And it turned out that it wasn’t. 

We spent a lot of time in the hospital with him over the next months. It was a strange and difficult time. 

(My husband and I still did not have sex, but at that stage neither of us wanted to. It didn’t feel like a problem, or even something worth mentioning to each other. We were too stressed, too sleep-deprived).

Life got gradually more manageable. 

We moved to a bigger house, and decided to have another baby. Again, I stopped taking the Pill. Again, I fell pregnant instantly. My husband joked that he’d been looking forward to a bit more time trying to get pregnant, but I just laughed off his comments.

This pregnancy was far, far easier. I still felt like me. But I still did not want to have sex. 

Listen to Mamamia's Me After You podcast, which explores stories of motherhood and identity. 

It just felt wrong to me, and my husband didn’t question my feelings about it. He never pushed the issue, and again, it did not feel important. Motherhood felt like my purpose now.

After my youngest daughter arrived, I felt healthy and fit and strong. I did not fall into the pit of despair that I’d dwelled in after my son’s arrival. I was 26, and I felt great. But I did not want to have sex. I really did not want to have sex. My husband reached for me in bed and I’d hold him close, but I’d make it clear that we were only snuggling for sleep. 


And then, one day I was speaking with friends and I mentioned that it had been maybe a year since I’d been intimate with my husband. I joked that our last sexual encounter had resulted in my baby daughter, so we didn’t dare give it another go, not while I was still not back on the Pill yet. 

My friends were aghast. "But doesn’t your husband mind?" they asked. I hadn’t even thought about whether he might mind.

Suddenly, I was gripped by guilt. 

I spoke to my husband about it that evening. "Sure," he said. "I’ve missed it, but it’s not just the sex I miss. I miss feeling that you fancy me. It’s like you don’t find me attractive anymore. It feels very lonely, like a part of our connection has gone."

I felt awful. 

I decided to make more of an effort; we tried for over a year to fix things ourselves. We made romantic dinners together, lit candles, bought massage oils. 

It was nice to be intimate, but the thought of anything more than that left me cold. I hugged my husband, and it was like hugging an uncle or brother; not a flicker of desire.

Around that time, I realised something: I did not find anyone attractive. Not any more. 

Sex felt like something other people did, something pointless that existed to drive the plot of films and books. 


Something fantastical and irrelevant to me. I felt dead from the waist down. I had no sex drive, and that was quite frightening.

We went to couples’ counselling. 

We saw a lovely counsellor who spent a lot of time delving into the way we interacted and the way that we each viewed sex. 

It was enlightening to realise that deep inside; I felt that my body existed now as a mother’s body, and that because of my compulsive need to control my life, I had mentally put my husband in the same box as my children: I viewed him merely as someone else who needed my help, attention and organisation each day.

I had not realised it, but I didn’t view him as sufficiently "other" any more. He was just part of the family unit. 

I also identified that I was unable to relax in our bedroom, because it was so full of the deeply unsexy accoutrements of motherhood. 

And finally, our lovely counsellor gently urged me, had I thought about my hormones? Pregnancy and breastfeeding and then going swiftly back on the Pill (because, ironically, I was utterly terrified of an unplanned pregnancy) would surely challenge anyone’s hormonal balance. 

I took supplements. 

I went to the GP and changed the type of Pill I was taking. 

We re-decorated our bedroom, making it a more adult space, clean and clear, with pale hotel-type sheets. We made the bed neatly every morning (this had not been a thing, before, but it really makes a huge difference). 


I started going to the gym on my own, carving out time away from the children and making more of an effort to spend time with friends; I urged my husband to do similar, to develop interests outside the home. 

Ironically, we needed to be more separate before we could be more intimate. 

It worked. 

Slowly, miraculously, it worked. 

After a few months I found myself catching my husband’s eye as we walked together and feeling a flicker again of what had first attracted me to him, all those years ago. 

I felt the unusual sensation of actual desire, a feeling that I had entirely forgotten. It was the smallest flicker, but it was a flame that we were happy to fan together. I wasn’t dead from the waist down after all, and this was worth celebrating.

Marriage isn’t easy. 

Staying attracted to each other, remaining sexually compatible through all the various obstacles that life throws at us – it’s difficult. 

Our marriage went on to suffer many more threats and blows after that one, and life together definitely hasn’t been plain sailing. But if I hadn’t addressed that first, terrifying, hollow space that appeared where my sex drive ought to have been, I highly doubt we’d still have a marriage now for me to write about.

Feature Image: Getty.