Painful Sex after Childbirth – Reasons and Remedies

A woman saying no to her her husband in bed

The baby is out, and a new chapter in your life has begun where you are responsible for the care of your child. Everyone is happy and wants to take selfies with the baby while you and your partner feel proud that you are parents. Things go great for a while, but then you notice that your sex drive isn’t how it used to be. Your partner drops in some subtle hints indicating that he is interested in making love to you. You haven’t had sex yet, but something inside you is screaming out and saying that this isn’t going to go well. Does sex hurt after the baby is born? Are you full of anxiety and not sure whether it’ll hurt or not?These are questions that are probably running through your mind, and we’re here to tell you that this is normal!

Sex is one of those topics that is steered clear off in most situations. This may be one reason why most people are caught off guard about sex after the baby is in the picture. While some women are aware of this, men are clueless and begin to misinterpret things. This article will help explain why you feel pain, and what you and your partner can do to remedy the situation.

Is Sex after Childbirth Painful?

Painful sex, which is medically known as dyspareunia is something that is very common after childbirth. Your body has endured punishment and expecting things to be business as usual, where you pop back up after delivery just isn’t happening. A study has shown that 9 out of every 10 women have experienced painful sex after delivery.

How Long should you Wait to have Sex after Delivery?

If you were to ask an obstetrician this question, she would say roughly 4-6 weeks would be an acceptable amount of time. The body is still healing and having sex during this time can lead to issues such as rupturing of any stitches, infections and excruciating pain to name just a few. However, if after 6 weeks you still experience pain then worry not as this too is normal. A study conducted in Australia showed that only forty-one per cent of women had attempted vaginal sex by the sixth week. This number inched its way to sixty-five per cent by the eighth week and even by the twelfth week, only seventy-five per cent. Even after six months of waiting, there was six per cent of women who were hesitant to try out vaginal intercourse due to pain.

Why does Sex Hurt after Pregnancy?

An upset woman sitting in bed with her husband.

Are you having painful intercourse after birth? These could some of the reasons that could help explain the pain.

1. Increase in Vaginal Size

After a vaginal birth, the vagina will be larger than before and will take some time to return back to its normal size. There may be swelling as well as bruising which would result in painful intercourse.

2. Dry Vagina

While breastfeeding, the body produces lower levels of oestrogen which may lead to issues such as a dry vagina. As a result, during penetration, you may experience pain because of too much friction on the vaginal walls.

3. Episiotomy

When you face issues during childbirth, such as the baby is too large or is in breech position, an episiotomy is performed. This is when the doctor makes an incision between the vagina and the anus, to help in delivery. This will take some time to heal and sex during this time may lead to not just pain but rupturing of the stitches.

4. Lochia

After the baby is born, you are likely to experience heavy bleeding during the initial few days, which is also known as lochia. This is part of the cleansing process as the uterus is shedding its inner lining.

5. Caesarean Birth

While it may seem puzzling that vaginal bleeding takes place after a caesarean, it does happen. While bleeding is significantly lower as most of the blood is taken out during surgery, the cervix will still need to be closed for safe sex. Painful sex after c section is a reality and is a common occurrence.

6. Vaginismus

After childbirth, in addition to vaginal dryness and scarring, women sometimes experience involuntary muscular spasms. These are painful and can lead to poor sexual stimulation.

Tips to Make Intercourse Less Painful after having a Baby

  • Kegel Exercises can help strengthen the pelvic floor which can lead to faster recovery after childbirth. These can be done by simply tightening the pelvic floor muscles for about ten seconds. Relax and then repeat the process again. For best results, perform these kegel exercises while you are pregnant.
  • If vaginal dryness is the cause of pain, you could try using lubrication to reduce friction while performing sex.
  • If the pain is too intense, rest it out for a couple of days as delivering a baby takes a toll on the body. Once you feel that your body has healed, you can resume having intercourse.
  • You and your partner can indulge in gentle love-making where you can experiment and find an area where there is no pain and keep the focus there. The woman on top is one position where you can control the penetration, so the pain regions can be avoided.
  • If the pain refuses to go down, then know that there are different way to get sexually aroused apart from penetration. Try asking your partner to go down on you (oral sex) or you could even try mutual masturbation.

The bitter truth here is that sexual intercourse may not be something that can be immediately done right after delivery. A study in 2000 showed that most women don’t begin to enjoy sex until after eight months, although this is not a rule. Keeping your partner informed is important as they may feel that you aren’t giving them the attention they need. An open dialogue is needed for communication as resentment can build from both sides. Let him know that you still love him, but you need to stay away from sex until you fully heal. At the same time, let him read this blog and see the scientific studies that show that this is absolutely normal.

Also Read:

When Can You Have Sex after C-Section Delivery
How Long after A Miscarriage Should You Have Sex