Early Resumption of Sexual Intercourse after First Childbirth and Unintended Pregnancy within Six Months

Published:September 30, 2021DOI:



      We aimed to evaluate factors associated with early resumption of sexual intercourse after first childbirth and assess whether early intercourse is associated with unprotected intercourse, subsequent pregnancy, and unintended pregnancy over 6 months.


      This secondary analysis used data from the First Baby Study, a prospective study of women aged 18–35 years with singleton pregnancies who delivered at 76 hospitals in Pennsylvania. At 1 and 6 months postpartum, women were asked about intercourse and the use of birth control since childbirth. We compared women who resumed intercourse in the first month after childbirth (early resumption) with those who resumed intercourse later, via multivariable logistic regression models.


      In our cohort, 261 of 2,643 women (9.9%) reported first intercourse within the first postpartum month (7–31 days). Women who resumed intercourse early were less educated, younger, and less likely to breastfeed, have had a perineal laceration, or have had an episiotomy than those who resumed intercourse later. In addition, they were more likely to have unprotected intercourse in at least one of the first 6 months after first childbirth (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 2.33; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.76–3.09); to be pregnant by 6 months postpartum (aOR, 3.03; 95% CI, 1.48–6.20); and to report that pregnancy as unintended (aOR, 3.32; 95% CI, 1.50–7.36).


      Nearly 10% of women resumed intercourse in the first month after childbirth. Because early resumption of intercourse was associated with a greater likelihood of unprotected intercourse and unintended pregnancy within 6 months of first childbirth, clinicians should focus efforts on comprehensive family planning and contraception counseling beginning in the prenatal period.
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      Alex J. Knutson, MD, is a resident in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Penn State Health, and plans to specialize in pelvic floor disorders. His research interests are broad and include gynecological topics, as well as general women's health.


      Sarah S. Boyd, MD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Penn State Health. Her research focuses on optimizing patient outcomes and decreasing adverse events in both surgical and non-surgical management of pelvic floor disorders.


      Jaime B. Long, MD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Penn State Health. Her research focuses on perioperative patient care, including ways to optimize pain control and other postoperative patient experiences.


      Kristen H. Kjerulff, PhD, is a professor, Department of Public Health Sciences, Penn State College of Medicine, and has a secondary appointment in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Her research focuses on women's health, with a particular focus on reproductive health.