Leana Greene: I'm so honored to be here with Jennifer Berman. She has an Emmy nominated show, The Doctors, and I've seen you many times. Good Morning America, and Oprah, and lots of TV shows. I'm going to start by asking you, what do you think are the best tips to keep a good sex life after you have kids?
Jennifer Berman: I mean, that's a good question. Not just after you have kids, maintaining intimacy through all, I guess, phases of life.
Leana Greene: I guess even if you don't have kids.
Jennifer Berman: But in particular after kids because what happens is, you go from being this insular unit, of male, female whatever it is to a triangle between the baby at the center and the two of you behind and the whole dynamic of the relationship shifts. Nobody prepares you for that. You know it's going to happen but you don't know, at least I didn't know, and from all the women that I've spoken to and men, the feelings that are associated with that, the love that you have for your baby and then babies is so much more profound in many ways than the type of love that you have for your partner, which is also deep, but not the unconditional ...
Leana Greene: The ultimate love.
Jennifer Berman: No matter what.
Leana Greene: It's like the sky opens and you go [shew 00:01:41]
Jennifer Berman: I mean if they were, not matter what they were or who they are, or what they did, you will love them no matter what.
Leana Greene: Yeah.
Jennifer Berman: It's not the same the with a partner.
Leana Greene: And especially it's hard the first three years, I think.
Jennifer Berman: The first three years are the hardest because the children are the most dependent. They can't function on their own, they can't feed themselves. They can't entertain themselves many times and its very hands on, constant need machines that can be draining. So not only do you have to make time for somebody else, you know, your partner, but you're drained and tired and exhausted and no matter what, even in those conditions of fatigue where you can't even fathom having sex, do.
Leana Greene: We are actually going to take a question from one of our parents.
Speaker 3: Thank you for having me. Dr. Berman I have a couple of questions for you. My wife recently gave birth and she had post-partum depression so she's been taking anti-depressants. Major side effect from that is her sex drive is totally gone. Everything I've tried just hasn't worked. So I took to the internet to see what my major, what routes I can take and one of the things I was looking at on the internet, my question to you is, is it safe for a woman to take Viagra, how long do women have to be on anti-depressants for post-partum and do you have any other ideas I could have to try and get her sex drive back?
Leana Greene: Well there's probably a lot of other fathers that feel exactly like you. Right?
Jennifer Berman: Important question because ... well first and foremost, what I would answer him is that mom has to be healthy and post-partum depression is serious. It is a medical condition and it can cause devastating consequences if not treated to the mom and baby, so she does need to be treated. That said, unfortunately the medications, serotonin reuptake inhibitors, Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, have side effects as he's experienced and one of the main side effects are low libido and also difficulty achieving orgasm. So those are the two most common side effects of SSRIs, which she's on.
Now the first thing that I would suggest that they do is discuss this with their healthcare provider because there are SSRIs which have less sexual function side effects that may be effective in her, so that's the first thing.
The second thing, I just want to clarify when he mentioned Viagra, although that's a great drug to treat male erectile disfunction, which is the blood flow response, its not an effective treatment for low sexual desire in women, in particular in this case, in post-partum depression. That will not be the solution.
So in that case she needs to be treated, first and foremost. Speak to the healthcare provider about altering the medical that she's on to one with less sexual function side effects and also take the pressure off of her. The thing that happens post-partum is this dramatic flux in hormones. We go from being high estrogen to plummeting, basically becoming sort of quasi-menopausal and that's disruptive to the serotonin levels in our brain.
Finally, reducing the stress that she's experiencing, having help. You know we feel like we as women have to do everything and we have shame about the nannies and having nannies and we're not at ... get nannies, get help, get family, get friends. The more help, the more support she has the better it will be in terms of managing the depression which is associated to hormones, withdrawal of hormones and stress. So the more supported she feels, the healthier that she'll be and the shorter the time that it'll last. How long it lasts? There's no specific timeframe. It could be a period of months, three months, four months, six months. Sometimes a year, but the more support she has the better it'll be.
Leana Greene: And getting into groups with other moms I think is always good to ...
Jennifer Berman: Mm-hmm (affirmative) You're not alone. Isolating is absolutely the worst thing that you can do. My website is called bermansexualhealth.com and that's a great resource as well and information. If anybody wants to reach me there's email on there and there's ...
Leana Greene: A lot of great blogs.
Jennifer Berman: And great blogs and great information and the show The Doctors, which is ... we're on hiatus right now but we're coming back in the fall, and that's a great health show in general. A lot about parenting, a lot about children, a lot about health, reproductive health,
Leana Greene: Yeah I love The Doctors. It's a great show. Well thank you so much for being with me.
Jennifer Berman: Thank you for having me. Anytime. I hope to come back.
Leana Greene: Absolutely.
Jennifer Berman: Thank you.
Leana Greene: Over and out from kids in the house.