Sex after childbirth

Sex after having a Baby

How soon can I have sex after my baby is born?

There is no definitive time to wait before having sexual intercourse after having a baby. Many women prefer to wait 6 weeks until they have seen their GP. This time will allow for optimal healing and recovery of the pelvic floor muscles/abdominals after vaginal delivery/caesarean section. If there have been complications with healing after delivery, such as wound infection/breakdown, it may be best to wait a little longer. Every woman is different, with their own rate of recovery and healing, so it is important to listen to your own body. If you have persistent discomfort, pain or difficulty returning to sex, you may want to consult with your GP, public health nurse or obstetrician or specialist Physiotherapist.


Will sex feel different after having a baby?

For many women, sex resumes normally after having a baby. Some women, however, may feel anxious resuming sexual intercourse, anticipating pain or a change in sensation. Some may experience the following:

  • Hypersensitivity over the scar tissue in your perineum if you have had stitches. This can be eased/improved by doing some scar massage over the area with a natural oil such as almond oil or olive oil if you have a nut allergy. This will help to desensitize the area. Using a water-based, non-perfumed lubricant can also help to reduce friction on the scar tissue.
  • You may feel that the vaginal opening is tighter than previous and may be painful on initial penetration. This, also, may be eased by using lubricant and doing some perineal massage/stretching.
  • You may notice that there is less sensation/pleasure or a feeling of laxity during intercourse. This may be due to weakened pelvic floor muscles and can be improved by strengthening these muscles.
  • You may notice vaginal pain/discomfort deeper inside during intercourse, which may be due to overactive/ tense pelvic floor muscles. This may be in response to pain or the anticipation of pain in the early postnatal period. Doing pelvic floor exercises can sometimes worsen this muscle tension, causing more pain. You may notice some difficulty relaxing the muscle after contracting it.
  • Vaginal dryness can also cause pain during intercourse. Dryness can be due to changes in oestrogen levels after pregnancy. Vaginal lubricants and moisturisers such a Sylk, Replens MD, Yes VM may help with this.

For any of these issues, it is advisable to get referred to a specialised women’s health physiotherapist who will examine your pelvic floor muscle and give you an individual programme of care based on assessment findings. Your GP, Public Health Nurse or Obstetrician can refer you to Physiotherapy in UHG.


What else may I do if intercourse is painful?

Painful intercourse may be both a physical as well as an emotional issue. It may be worthwhile considering attending psychosexual therapy which involves the use of behavioural exercises to address negative physical responses during intercourse.

If you have a history of painful intercourse pre-pregnancy, it is also advisable to mention this to your GP, PHN or Consultant and seek referral to Physiotherapy and/or psychosexual counselling.

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