It is generally recommended that sexual intercourse is avoided in the first 4 to 6 weeks following vaginal or cesarean delivery. However, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider before resuming sex.
Most often, especially in cases of cesarean delivery, perineal tear, or episiotomy, it is recommended to wait until your 6-week postpartum visit for approval from a healthcare provider to resume sexual activity.
Following childbirth, your body is in a healing phase in which bleeding stops, tears heal, and the cervix closes. Having intercourse too early, especially within the first two weeks, is not recommended, due to a risk of postpartum hemorrhage or uterine infection.
Several factors affect readiness to resume sexual intercourse following the birth of an infant, including:
What will sex after giving birth feel like?
Women may wonder when they can safely have sex after giving birth.
Due to the hormonal changes experienced during the postpartum period, many women experience vaginal dryness, which may continue past the typical 4-to-6-week timeframe if they are breastfeeding. This is due to low levels of circulating estrogen.
Breastfeeding can also reduce your sex drive. In addition to lower levels of circulating hormones, painful sex may accompany a perineal tear or episiotomy and last for several months following the birth of an infant.
Steps that can reduce pain during sex after pregnancy include:
- controlling the depth of penetration with varied sexual positions
- increasing vaginal lubrication
- taking pain medication
- emptying the bladder
- taking a warm bath
Vaginal lubrication, such as over-the-counter (OTC) creams or gels, may be useful in relieving the symptoms of vaginal dryness. If you are using barrier-method birth control, using a water-based lubricant is recommended to avoid weakening the latex.
Alternatively, oral or manual stimulation might be an option during the healing process. For some people, an appointment with a pelvic floor rehabilitation specialist may be recommended to evaluate and treat painful postpartum sex.
Sex following childbirth may feel different. This is due to reduced vaginal muscle tone and capacity for stretching. This laxity in vaginal tone is often temporary, however, and is affected by a range of factors, such as genetics, the size of the baby, the number of previous births, and the use of Kegel exercises.
Hormones can cause a variety of interesting - and, at times, inconvenient - symptoms. For example, during sexual intercourse, your breasts may leak milk due to the hormonal response to orgasm. Try pumping before having sex to reduce this symptom.
Hormones can cause a variety of unusual symptoms. For example, your breasts may leak milk during sexual intercourse as the hormones respond to orgasm. Try pumping before having sex to prevent or reduce this symptom.
Kegel exercises of the pelvic floor muscles can help provide strength and stability to the vaginal area following the delivery of an infant.
They are simple and can be performed almost anywhere.
The first step is to find your pelvic floor muscles. These can be easily located by stopping the flow of urine next time you visit the bathroom. The points at which you feel the strain are the pelvic floor muscles.
Follow these steps to perform a Kegel correctly:
- Relax the muscles in your chest, abdomen, thighs, and buttocks.
- Squeeze the pelvic muscles in a similar manner to the way the muscles were found in the first found. Try to stop an imaginary stream of urine mid-flow.
- Hold this for between 5 and 10 seconds.
- You should be able to feel a tightening and an upward movement of the anus, bladder, or vagina. This means you have successfully completed a Kegel.
- Break for 5 to 10 seconds and repeat this 10 times.
- Repeat this 3 times per day.
You should be able to increase the duration of each squeeze and the number of sets as the pelvic floor muscles become stronger.
Over time, this should help make sex less painful and more enjoyable.
Birth control options following childbirth
Condoms are an effective form of birth control after pregnancy.
Having a reliable method of birth control following delivery is important to prevent unintended pregnancy. If you are interested in immediate contraception, consider barrier options, such as condoms, or progestin-only contraceptives, such as Depo-Provera or the mini-pill.
The timing for a copper or intrauterine hormonal device or utilizing a fitted barrier method of contraception such as a diaphragm or cervical cap should be discussed with your healthcare provider.
If you are interested in combination birth control methods containing both estrogen and progesterone, such as pills or a vaginal ring, speak with your healthcare provider to see if this option is right for you.
The timing of resuming sexual intercourse following the birth of a child is ultimately a personal decision. Women should speak with their partner and healthcare team about any concerns that may be present.