Maybe you’ve just given birth and you’re wondering how on earth you could ever have sex again?
Or maybe you’re already beyond the six-week wait and you’ve had sex for the first time.
Perhaps it didn’t feel like how you remembered sex before pregnancy and birth.
Or maybe you’re still pregnant and already concerned about how sex will be after giving birth.
Sex after birth
Whatever the reason you’re here, read on to learn more about what’s normal, what to be concerned about, and how sex can actually be okay (and even great) after childbirth.
The key thing is not to feel pressured to have sex after birth before you are ready. Talk to your partner about the changes you’re going through and seek support if you need t0.
How does sex feel after birth?
For some couples, there’s little to no difference in sex after childbirth. Even though this is often the case, it’s certainly not the rule.
Although pregnancy is a natural bodily function, it causes many temporary and occasionally ongoing changes to the body.
The temporary changes are caused by hormones, the weight of pregnancy, and the toll it takes on the body (a lot of energy and nutrition go into growing a human being). It can be weeks, months, and occasionally a year or more before the body heals completely.
Some of the effects are:
- Pelvic floor discomfort, weakness, pain, and muscle strain
- Breast pain and irritation
- Changes in libido
- Vaginal dryness, pain, or irritation
- Hemorrhoids or vulvar varicosities.
As mentioned, these things are typically temporary, but they can take some time to heal fully.
Pregnancy ailments aside, there’s the birth itself.
Just like pregnancy, birth is a normal bodily function. There can be ongoing complications as a result of birth, but that’s the exception and not the rule, especially following normal physiological birth.
How long after birth can you have sex?
You can have postpartum sex as soon as you feel ready for it. Having said that, there’s an important reason why we should respect the four to six weeks period after giving birth.
The cervix is still open and the placental site (where it was attached to your uterus) is still healing. That’s why refraining from penetrative vaginal sex during this period is highly recommended by health care providers.
Having sex doesn’t just mean penetration; it’s about intimacy and pleasure. When it comes to a couple’s sex life it’s really up to them how they explore their sexual relationship.
For some couples, having sex right after the baby’s birth is part of their healthy relationship. For others, any type of sexual encounter is completely out of the picture for the first few weeks or months postpartum. This is also okay, as long as it doesn’t cause a problem in the relationship because one or partners’ sexual needs aren’t being met.
Please talk to your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing difficulties with sexual activity, to find different ways to improve the situation.
What would happen if I had sex 2 weeks after giving birth?
Any kind of non-penetrative vaginal sex is okay as long as it’s something the woman desires. Having vaginal penetrative sex in the first few weeks postpartum isn’t recommended as your reproductive system is in a healing phase.
Your uterus, and especially your cervix, need plenty of rest and time to heal. Not respecting this time might lead to a uterine infection or even a postpartum hemorrhage; the uterus needs to be firmly contracted during the postpartum period.
Sex after a vaginal birth
The vagina, also called the birth canal, is perfectly designed to make plenty of room for baby without significant long-term changes. The flexible and elastic-like vaginal tissue and the hormones your body releases during labor help your body give birth without severe damage.
Certainly, birth doesn’t always unfold perfectly, and damage can sometimes occur, but these side effects can be managed.
The effect of hormones, any minor to moderate tears to the vagina or perineum (the area between your vaginal opening and anus), and pelvic muscle weakness or damage can all take time to heal.
If you have intercourse before these things are fully healed, sex might feel quite different from the way it did before you had a vaginal birth.
Sex after episiotomy
If you had any stitches in your perineum, penetrative vaginal sex will certainly not be in your mind for quite a while.
Give yourself time to heal. A human being’s biggest sexual organ is the brain. Listen to yourself. When you start to think about sex, you get arousal signals, so try exploring how they make you feel. How is your genital area responding to your thoughts?
Our bodies know how to heal if we let them. You’ll know when you’re ready for vaginal penetration. In the meantime explore other ways of sexual gratification, making sure you enjoy the experience. These pleasurable encounters will help you heal much faster.
Sex after a c-section
Some people assume having a c-section means there’ll be no changes to their sex life. However, it’s pregnancy that mainly affects the pelvic floor muscles. Depending on whether or not you labored before your c-section, you might also experience vaginal changes, as well as the changes (mentioned above) that occur during pregnancy.
Intercourse can often put pressure on the cervix (the opening of the uterus) and on the uterus, which, after a c-section, has an incision that needs to heal. That is why it’s recommended you refrain from intercourse for up to 6 weeks (even if you didn’t dilate), just as after a vaginal birth.
Even if you’ve healed enough to have intercourse, you might still experience discomfort, as overall healing from pregnancy and surgery can take quite a long time.
During pregnancy and birth, your body did a lot and went through a lot, regardless of how you gave birth, so you should expect sex in the weeks and months following birth to feel quite different.
For more information be sure to read this interesting article C Section Recovery- 7 Tips To Help You Recover.
Sex after birth pain
Unless it’s mutually consented and intended to enhance sexual pleasure, pain during sex – especially postpartum sex – is never a good sign.
Pain is a defense mechanism. The body is telling us to stop doing something or change something, with the aim of making the pain go away or decrease its intensity to a minimum. If we experience painful sex, it means the body is telling us to stop that practice or modify it.
If you experience pain while having penetrative sex in the first few weeks postpartum it’s very likely the pain comes from something that needs further healing.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have sex after childbirth; it just means the specific practice causing you pain isn’t a good idea just yet.
Until the vaginal muscles fully recover, penetrative sex might not be a good idea for many women. Fortunately, this is just one of many ways to enjoy sex.
You can start with gentle foreplay that will lead to anything you want apart from penetrative sex. For most women (and many men), knowing there isn’t going to be penetration adds an extra thrill to their sexual desire.
At the same time, it allows the woman to relax fully, which will very likely lead to greater arousal and lubrication. This tends to increase the local blood circulation in the vaginal area, leading to a much faster recovery.
Does breastfeeding affect how sex feels after birth?
Breastfeeding, another normal physiological process, can also have an impact on your hormones and your sex drive. Many women report lower libido and some have symptoms of low estrogen.
Breastfeeding can suppress the menstrual cycle. During the time you don’t have a cycle, your estrogen levels are often lower. This has some wonderful advantages, including reducing your risk of developing ovarian, uterine and breast cancers.
However, this lower estrogen causes vaginal dryness and even pelvic floor weakness in some women. This can also make a difference in how sex feels.
When you’re breastfeeding a baby, your body is not in full ‘reproductive mode’. It is busy raising a very small baby and will quite likely not be ready for a pregnancy in the short term. As a result, your sex drive is physiologically low during the early postpartum period, especially if you’re breastfeeding.
Will sex ever feel the same again?
For many couples, sex can feel the same after birth; some women report their sex life improves after birth. Perhaps it’s better because of the intimacy and communication required to navigate sex just after birth.
Exactly when it starts to feel the same (or better) can vary significantly. Even if you had a completely uncomplicated vaginal birth, it might take a few weeks or, in some cases, a full year or more to heal.
If you’ve had a c-section, episiotomy, vacuum or forceps assisted birth, you might heal quickly, or you might need quite a bit of extra time for your body to heal from the trauma.
Feeling different, or experiencing some discomfort, can be quite common, and might simply be part of the normal transition after birth.
After 6-8 weeks, however, if you still experience pain during intercourse that isn’t resolved with adequate lubricant, it might be time to have another check-up.
Many women liken sex after birth to the feeling they had the first time they ever had sex. They experience a little discomfort, some fear and concern, and some tension. Eventually, those feelings dissipate and sex begins to feel very similar to how it was before birth.
Another thing to keep in mind is giving birth and having a baby is a life-altering experience. Ask yourself whether any of these applies to you:
- Did you experience a traumatic birth?
- Are you getting enough rest?
- Have you had time to heal?
- How are you feeling emotionally?
- Have you and your partner had time to reconnect and experience intimacy (not just physical intimacy) since becoming parents?
Although sex is a physical act, it’s very much intertwined with your emotions. A traumatic birth or a lack of connection with your partner can have an impact on how sex feels. It’s important to consider and address those things if you’re finding your sex life still doesn’t feel quite right.
It’s been a few months and sex still doesn’t feel the same; is this normal?
Feelings of slight discomfort or dryness are quite common for up to several months after giving birth, especially if you had a difficult birth.
The role of a new mother is a very busy one. It isn’t uncommon for women to feel touched out, uninterested and really too exhausted to enjoy intercourse.
However, if you’re experiencing pain during intercourse well after your 6-week checkup, this doesn’t fall into the realm of normal – even if your provider insists it does.
Although sex after birth can be different, it shouldn’t cause ongoing pain. If you’re experiencing vulvar pain, vaginal pain, ongoing cramping or pelvic floor discomfort, or you have any other concerns, you might want to see a pelvic specialist and inquire about pelvic physiotherapy.
Although the majority of women heal quite well from birth, some women experience:
- Pelvic floor weakness, tightness, or muscle damage
- Vulvodynia (vulvar pain, and pain around the opening of the vagina)
- Difficulty in areas with scar tissue or incisions, from tearing, episiotomy, or a c-section
- Hormonal imbalances (such as thyroid problems).
If you’re experiencing ongoing pain with intercourse, especially if the pain affects other areas of your life, see a pelvic specialist (or several) until you find someone who can help.
There are many treatment options for the above conditions. Even if sex is extremely painful for a while, there are many ways to address it so you can get back to a normal sex life.
What can I do to improve sex after birth faster?
Nine months of pregnancy, followed by six weeks of no sex, can mean some couples want to get things back to normal rather quickly.
For other couples, it’s simply about surviving the early months with a newborn. They put sex on the back burner until they suddenly realize it’s been quite a while since they’ve had sex.
Whatever the reason, if you want to improve sex after birth, the most important thing to remember is it’s vital to allow your body to heal fully. It’s the first step to getting back to your typical sex life. Having sex too soon can prolong the healing process and it will take even longer for sex to feel ‘normal’ again.
If you have ongoing pain, you need to see a specialist to address it properly. You don’t need to endure terribly painful intercourse in the hope it will eventually improve.
The next step is to understand the physical toll of parenthood and the impact it can have on your relationship. It’s important to address any birth trauma or relationship struggles (such as lack of intimacy) since baby’s arrival.
If you allow your body to heal and deal with any underlying physical concerns, and if you recognize the impact parenting can have, you are more likely to see your sex life return to normal faster than if you just jump right in and push through discomfort.
When breastfeeding, many mothers swear by a good lubricant. You might find it’s the fix-all for uncomfortable post-birth sex.
Are you wondering why you’re not into sex since the birth of your baby? Or wondering why your partner isn’t interested in sex? Be sure to read 10 Reasons Why She Doesn’t Want Sex After Having A Baby for a better understanding of sex after welcoming a new baby.