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Parental guidance

Dalhousie clinical psychologist, sexual health researcher and the scientist behind the Post Baby Hanky Panky campaign, Dr. Natalie Rosen is helping to end the stigma for individuals and couples coping with sexual problems.

Innovation: Dr. Rosen is an associate professor with Dalhousie’s Departments of Psychology and Neuroscience and Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Additionally, she directs the Couples and Sexual Health Research Laboratory, a leading research facility for couples’ sexuality in Nova Scotia and around the world. Their studies focus on everything from men coping with low sexual desire to a couple’s journey with fertility treatment.

Foundation: “My research focuses on sexual relationships, particularly during important life transitions, and how couples can maintain sexual satisfaction over time. This research matters because a strong, satisfying sexual relationship is directly linked to people’s overall health and well-being.”

“What are the sexual problems that new mothers and fathers are having? How common are they, and are they the same for both parents? It turns out that over 90 per cent of new parents report between 10–16 sexual concerns that are specific to the postpartum period.”

Inspiration: “In academia, there is a focus on writing academic papers and presenting at conferences. I wanted to do something different with the data to get the findings into the hands of new parents and the health-care providers who work with them. We developed a series of videos based on our research and launched the Post Baby Hanky Panky campaign (postbabyhankypanky.com) to help open the lines of communication about this topic—it’s not something that new parents talk a lot about. But it’s hugely common for there to be new sexual concerns after having a baby.”

Why it Matters: “Everyone’s interested in it—it’s a sexy topic—but on the other hand, it’s hard to talk about. Sexual health is still an area where there’s a lot of stigma, and a lot of misinformation still persists. As a scientist, I think it’s our responsibly to correct myths and misinformation.”