Human Nature

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 89–101 | Cite as

Sexual Functioning and Commitment to Their Current Relationship among Breastfeeding and Regularly Cycling Women in Manila, Philippines

  • Michelle J. Escasa-DorneEmail author


This project investigates the relationship between lactation and female sexual functioning and relationship commitment among partnered women in urban Manila. Previous literature suggests that the time after giving birth is often rife with lower sexual functioning and relationship dissatisfaction. Given the important role of caregiving by multiple individuals in humans, the current cross-sectional study suggests that female sexuality may decline immediately after giving birth but then may increase afterwards. Non-cycling, breastfeeding (n = 86); cycling, breastfeeding (n = 48); and nulliparous, regularly cycling (n = 105) women were recruited from neighborhood health centers in Manila to complete questionnaires that assessed sexual functioning and relationship satisfaction, along with demographic variables. Cycling, breastfeeding women report the highest sexual functioning scores and commitment scores. Females undergoing life history trade-offs between mating effort and parenting effort during the postpartum phase may employ a strategy in which they continue investment both in their offspring and in a romantic relationship. Variations in self-reported sexual functioning, level of commitment in a relationship, and love toward her current partner may indicate that breastfeeding women engage in sexual activities as part of a relationship maintenance strategy. Cultural and life history factors will serve as a framework for the findings. The current findings suggest women in Manila may experience a post-birth increase in sexual functioning that may be higher than pre-pregnancy levels. Future studies should incorporate a longitudinal component or a memory recall on pre-pregnancy and post-birth sexual functioning levels.


Lactation Sexual Health Philippines Life History Theory 



Thanks to the Wenner-Gren Foundation and UNLV for funding, Peter Gray for helpful comments and support, Nona Andayo-Castillo for special assistance in data collection, the Marakina Barangay Health Center for assistance with data collection, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of ColoradoColorado SpringsUSA

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