The Truth About Sex After Kids

by Lea Grover
Originally Published: 
Happy married couple lying down in their bed and holding each other's hands on white bedsheets
Image via Shutterstock

People like to joke that once you have kids, you stop having sex.

Obviously this isn’t true, or there would be no such thing as younger siblings or vasectomy parties. (Yes, I contemplated throwing my husband a party to commemorate his vasectomy. I am certain this is actually a thing people do, and I’m not just a lunatic. There are menses parties, for god’s sake!) I sometimes think this is a myth created by people who don’t want to imagine that their parents actually had sex for pleasure on a regular basis.

Movies like “Date Night” perpetuate this myth, with hilarious scenes like the mouthguard incident, or the look of shock on Tina Fey’s face when her friend says she’s getting divorced in part because she and her husband are only having sex two or three times a week. And yeah, I laughed my ass off, because I’d recently had twins and my husband and I were living in shifts in order to take care of two sets of dirty diapers and whatnot 24 hours a day, and yeah, we weren’t having sex every night. Or week. Or month. But judging all of parenthood by the first six months is like judging all baseball teams by the Cubs, or judging all of “Up” by the first ten minutes.

So I’m going to set the record straight.

Sex is a minefield when you’re starting a relationship. First off, there’s the awkwardness factor of attempting to move in concert with another person in such a way that both of you can avoid making strange and humiliating noises (and not just with your mouths), and trying to look sexy while you do it. Then there’s the goodie-bag of body issues most of us go into sexual relationships with, making things that much harder by necessitating a completely dark or poorly lit sex environment. On top of that, there’s shame based indoctrination that tells men they’re never big enough and they don’t “last long enough,” and tells women they should be capable of half a dozen orgasms pretty much all on their own with no help, or that they’re not really supposed to like sex to begin with, depending on their cultural backgrounds.

Basically, until you get comfortable with your partner, sex is kind of… awful.

That’s not to say it can’t still feel great. Because let’s be honest, most of the time it does. But parts of it are embarrassing and confusing and involve lots of talks about what it all means, and whether you’re having enough of it, and you avoid the conversations that might actually make it better.

After kids? Forget all of that. Sex after kids is completely different.


Because you have completely lost all sense of shame or embarrassment towards your body and what it does. The fears you used to have about whether or not he’ll stop liking you if he notices your fat stomach are replaced by the knowledge that this person watched you screaming in pain while you carried multiple human beings around inside of you, with random parts swelling up and growing hair no human should grow and with a wild hormonal glint in your eyes that threatened actual physical violence, and you know what? They still love you!

So fuck it!

Once the realization that your partner loves your body and what it does, regardless of what you think of it, really hits?

The sex is incomparably better. You can simply ask for what you like. You can explore fetishes and kinks and preferences, even ones that previously embarrassed you, because nothing embarrasses you anymore. Not when you’ve both sat staring at each other at the crack of dawn, covered in the same infant’s vomit and feces. Not when you’ve had more conversations than you care to count about the kids’ diarrhea and whether or not the shits you’re both experiencing indicate a virus, something psychosomatic, or yet another side effect of prolonged fatigue. Not when you’ve been responsible for popping each others’ back pimples, harping on each other to get to the gym, and sitting on the couch after the children are FINALLY asleep, each eating your own entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s. Once you hit that point, the sex is epic.

And that makes people feel icky. To know their birth heralded in a new and exciting era in boning for their parents is beyond uncomfortable.

So stop making it about them already, and make it about you.

All that said, there are still some deep truths when it comes to the levels of exhaustion a couple with children experiences at the end of the day. There’s nothing quite like going to bed utterly exhausted and covered in four people’s fluids to make you NOT want to be covered in another variety.

There are levels of bone weary tired that only appear when a kid woke you up at three in the morning the night before because they had a hangnail, and then another woke you up at dawn because you promised they could have scrambled eggs for breakfast. SCRAMBLED EGGS. It’s not like you need an extra hour to prepare them, for God’s sake! Follow that with a whole day of wrangling into carseats, evacuating from car seats, pushing loaded strollers, doling out snacks and keeping tabs on space cadet kids who forget to follow you in the middle of a park because they thought they heard a dog somewhere, and see how you feel.

That kind of exhaustion only comes with having children; or providing instructions to astronauts in a busted space ship for what to do to keep their air breathable until they can make their descent back through Earth’s atmosphere.

So when it comes to post child sex there are two varieties, and for your reading pleasure I will sum them up with the following entirely theoretical definitely not real certainly not from me conversations:

“Hey, remember that thing you did the other night that made me see God while I was orgasming? Can you do that again, only this time can I be blindfolded and can you use some ice?”

“Sure! Only you have to promise that tomorrow you’ll do that other thing. Twice. And I want you to wear that thing we got on Valentine’s Day while you do it the second time.”

“Do we have to wait until tomorrow? Can we do it now?”

“Yes please!”

“I’m so horny. But I’m soooooooo tiiiiiiiired.”

“If you decide you’re more horny than tired, I can rally.”

“You can rally? Okay… these pajama pants have a hole in the crotch. How about I just lie here and you make this happen through the hole in my pants, and we call it a night?”

“I’m not doing that.”

“Probably for the best. That would make the laundry extra gross.”


So the truth is, it’s inconsistent. Like almost everything in life. But it’s not the sad, exhausted, infrequent joke it’s made out to be.

Which is why vasectomy parties should totally be a thing.

Go get your freak on, people with kids. You’ve earned it.

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