When you “bake” a whole human being for nine months and then go through the painful and exhausting labor and delivery process, there are some changes to be expected with your body. The period after giving birth is also emotionally and physically challenging. When you barely have 3 hours of sleep, you are feeding and changing diapers every two hours, and you also have to figure out why your newborn is crying; sex is not a priority. It might feel like you’ll never have sex again. But eventually, when time goes by, you will get settled, and you may start to think about being physically intimate with your partner.
These are five things you should know about postpartum intimacy

1- Give yourself some time to heal.

Whether you had an easy or complicated delivery, vaginal delivery, or a cesarean section (c-section), you experienced vaginal tears or not, your body has been through a lot and needs time to heal. Having sex too early, especially within the first two weeks, puts you at risk of postpartum complications such as bleeding or uterine infection.

So how soon can you have sex after giving birth?
There are no official guidelines about when a woman can resume sexual activities after childbirth. However, most doctors recommend waiting at least six weeks. These recommendations are based on how long it will take approximately for a body to heal. It means the lochia has stopped (lochia is the vaginal bleeding that occurs after delivery), the vaginal tears have healed, and your the cervix has returned to its normal size. If you had a c-section, it might take up to 8 weeks to recover.

At the postpartum checkup, which also happens around six weeks after delivery, your doctor can confirm how well you are healing and tell you if it is physically safe for you to have sex.
A study conducted in Australia by (McDonald EA, Brown SJ) has shown that 22% of the women in the study have not attempted vaginal sex in the first 12 weeks after giving birth. (1)
Even if your healthcare provider clears you, you might not be emotionally ready. It is really up to you and your partner to decide how soon you want to resume your sexual activities.

2- Your libido might not be the same

If you are not really into sex since you give birth, don’t worry. You are not alone. Many women experience a decrease or loss of sex drive after giving birth. In a study with 50 women included in the book “Sexuality During and After Pregnancy,” the author Elsa Lena Ryding found 41 percent of postpartum women struggled with their sex drive. (2)There are many reasons why women have a lower libido after childbirth.

  •  Stress and fatigue: caring for a newborn can be very stressful and exhausting. When you are tired, sex can seem just like another demanding task. It can affect your interest in sex.
  • Hormonal changes and breastfeeding: after delivery, your body goes through significant hormonal changes. Your estrogen level is deficient, and it can have a significant impact on your sex drive. The level of estrogen is also affected by breastfeeding. While in non-breastfeeding women, hormone levels stabilize 4-6 weeks after childbirth, in breastfeeding women, lower levels may last as long as they are breastfeeding.
  • Physical changes: your body is still recovering from your pregnancy. You may not feel as attractive as you do before your pregnancy. It can lead to loss of libido.
  • Pain and discomfort: when women experience discomfort or pain during the first sexual activities attempt, it is likely to discourage them from desiring sex on subsequent occasions.

3- It might be painful

Pain during sex after childbirth is also widespread. 50- 60% of women have dyspareunia at 6-7 weeks postpartum, and 17% of them continue to have pain six months postpartum and beyond. (3) There are several reasons why you might have pain or discomfort during sexual activities in postpartum.

  • Perineal or genital trauma: obstetric trauma such as spontaneous tearing and episiotomies are important risk factors of postpartum dyspareunia.
  • Hormonal changes: low estrogen may be exacerbated by breastfeeding and can lead to vaginal dryness. The vaginal tissue may also be thinner and more sensitive.
  • Pelvic floor dysfunction: a pelvic floor is a group of muscles that rest at the pelvis’ base. The pressure on the pelvic floor from pregnancy and the trauma during childbirth can lead to your pelvic floor muscles’ weakness or tightness. Pelvic floor dysfunction can cause pain and discomfort during sex.
  • Psychosocial factors: postpartum dyspareunia might also be caused by psychosocial factors such as stress, anxiety, postpartum depression, problems in your relationship with the partner.

4- Think about birth control

Fear of pregnancy can be an inhibiting factor of your libido. You are right to worry about getting pregnant too soon because you can get pregnant even before your menstruations return. It is possible to get pregnant as early as 6-8 weeks after the delivery. Using the right birth control will help you think about sex without being afraid of any unintended pregnancy.
When it comes to birth control after pregnancy, there are several options available. Still, you have to take into consideration the following factors: timing (how soon you want to start your birth control), effectiveness, side effects, breastfeeding.

5- Talk to your partner

Your partner may be ready to resume sexual activities while you are not. Instead of just avoiding sex, you must talk about it to prevent frustrations. If he is aware of the situation, you can figure things out together. Don’t hesitate to talk about how you feel physically, emotionally and express any concern you may have about resuming sexual activity. You might also want to reassure your partner that it won’t last forever. Remember, they are many other ways to keep a loving relationship. Until you are ready to have sex, you can maintain postpartum intimacy in different ways, such as cuddling or kissing.
The good news is this is a temporary problem. Once you have entirely recovered from the delivery, your sex drive can return. You might even enjoy sex more than before your pregnancy.

If you are worried that things are not getting better, you can always talk to your healthcare provider.

 

References

1- http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1471-0528.12166/full
2-https://www.intechopen.com/books/sexology-in-midwifery/sexual-activity-during-pregnancy-in-childbirth-and-after-childbirth
3-https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01319968

 

Spread the love

About the Author

Hermione M.

My name is Hermione. I am the founder of WomenH and I write about women's health, wellness, mental health, and personal growth. I created this platform to inspire women to take care of themselves mentally, physically, and emotionally to become their best selves. Thank you for stopping by.

View All Articles