Pregnancy loss can be difficult for both a person and their partner. Following a pregnancy loss, a person should take as much time as they need before having sex again.
Losing a pregnancy can take an emotional toll on a person and their partner. Thinking about sex, or trying for another pregnancy, can be difficult following a pregnancy loss.
This article will look into how long a person should wait to have sex after a pregnancy loss, as well as self-care and when to contact a doctor.
A person may need to take time to process their feelings after a pregnancy loss. There is no right or wrong way to feel after losing a pregnancy.
Pregnancy loss can cause a person to have a range of emotions, such as sadness or anger. A person may also feel numb or in shock. It is completely normal for a person to experience strong emotions following a pregnancy loss.
Certain medical complications may also make physical intimacy difficult after a pregnancy loss. It is important for a person to take time to heal, both mentally and physically, before deciding to have sex after a pregnancy loss.
According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), a person should wait until all their pregnancy loss symptoms have gone before having sex again. This helps to reduce the chance of the person developing an infection.
Information from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that a person waits 1–2 weeks after a pregnancy loss to put anything inside the vagina.
It is ultimately up to a person and their partner when they feel ready to have sex.
A person should wait until they have recovered from any health problems that may have occurred due to a pregnancy loss before having sex.
If a person has sex before they have healed, they may develop further complications.
The following are health factors that may affect how long a person needs to wait before engaging in sexual activity:
Dilation and curettage (D and C)
D and C is a procedure to remove tissue left behind following a pregnancy loss. A doctor may perform D and C in situations where an incomplete pregnancy loss has occurred.
An incomplete pregnancy loss is when only some developing tissue passes, while the rest remains in the uterus.
The ACOG notes that after having D and C, a person should be able to resume normal activities after a day or two. A person should contact a healthcare professional if they notice the following after having D and C:
- heavy bleeding from the vagina
- abdominal pain
- foul-smelling discharge from the vagina
The ACOG recommends that a person speaks to their healthcare professional about when they can have sex after having D and C.
Septic pregnancy loss
A septic pregnancy loss, or septic abortion, is when a person develops an infection following a pregnancy loss. This can happen when a person experiences an incomplete pregnancy loss.
Symptoms generally appear 24–48 hours after a pregnancy loss.
A person should seek immediate medical care if they notice any symptoms of septic pregnancy loss, such as:
Following a pregnancy loss, a person may experience bleeding. According to the NHS, a person may bleed for around 7–10 days after a pregnancy loss.
They also note that a person should contact a doctor if they bleed for more than 3 weeks after a pregnancy loss.
Once a person has stopped bleeding, it should be physically safe for them to have sex if they are ready to.
First period after pregnancy loss
After losing a pregnancy, a person does not need to wait until after their first period to have sex again. A person can expect to have their period around 4–6 weeks after a pregnancy loss. This period may be heavier or last longer than usual.
The ACOG notes that a person can become pregnant 2 weeks after a pregnancy loss. If a person does not want to become pregnant again, they should use contraception.
After a pregnancy loss, a person may feel pain or tenderness in their vaginal area. Having sex at this time may cause further discomfort.
It could also result in infection developing. A person should wait until they have fully recovered before having sex again.
If a person notices pain or discomfort during sex once pregnancy loss symptoms have stopped, they should speak with a healthcare professional.
Being physically intimate can help people feel close to their partners. However, after a pregnancy loss, a person and their partner may need time to process things. There is no right or wrong amount of time a person should take.
If a person wants intimacy with their partner but does not feel ready for sex, they can try:
- holding hands
A person can become pregnant around 2 weeks after losing a pregnancy.
A healthcare professional may recommend waiting until after a person has the period before trying for another pregnancy. This is to make it easier to work out when a person has conceived.
Although a person may be concerned about losing another pregnancy, the ACOG notes that only around 1% of people have repeated pregnancy losses.
If a person experiences three pregnancy losses, they may require testing and a physical examination.
A person may not feel ready to have sex for a while following a pregnancy loss. Everyone is different, and it may take some people longer to recover than others.
Open and honest communication between partners can help both people heal. Once a person has processed their loss, they can gradually begin to engage in sexual activity as they become ready.
It is important that both partners are ready before being physically intimate. A person should not feel pressure to have sex before they want to.
It can be difficult to process a pregnancy loss. A person can try speaking with their partner, a family member, or a friend about how they feel. If a person is struggling following a pregnancy loss, they should speak to a healthcare professional.
Organizations that provide support for people following a pregnancy loss include:
- Share Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support
- The Compassionate Friends
- Center for Loss in Multiple Birth (CLIMB), Inc
- Helping After Neonatal Death (HAND)
- Star Legacy Foundation
It is important to remember that people in a relationship can react to a pregnancy loss in different ways. According to Tommy’s, a charity in the United Kingdom, people may find it beneficial to:
- Communicate: Talking with and listening to each other can help people understand how the other person is feeling.
- Commemorate the loss: People may find it helpful to find a way to remember their loss together.
- Accept the other’s feelings: People can remember that it is normal for everyone to react differently.
- Get professional help: If people are struggling or find that the pregnancy loss is causing a strain on their relationship, they can seek professional help, either together or on their own.
Pregnancy loss can be a traumatic and stressful event for both people in a relationship. It is important for a person to look after themselves and allow time for healing.
Some methods of self-care a person can use include:
- trying a new hobby
- getting enough sleep
- eating balanced meals
It is also important for both partners to support each other. Talking about how they are feeling can help a person process things and bond with their partner.
If a person finds they are struggling after losing a pregnancy, they should speak with a doctor. A doctor may be able to recommend counselors experienced with pregnancy loss.
A person should also speak to a doctor if they experience pain during sex following a pregnancy loss. If a person has any signs of infection, they should seek medical attention urgently.
Pregnancy loss can be a difficult and traumatic event. A person should allow themselves time to process and heal before having sex again.
A person should make sure all pregnancy loss symptoms have stopped before having sex again. A person should also keep in mind that they can become pregnant 2 weeks after a pregnancy loss. A person should use contraception if they are not ready for another pregnancy.
No one should feel pressured to have sex before they are ready. It is important that a person and their partner discuss how they are feeling, and take things at their own pace.
A person should see a doctor if they are struggling to cope with their pregnancy loss. A person should seek immediate medical attention if they have signs of an infection.