Pregnancy and eventually giving birth is all about change. Your body changes, your hormones change, and giving birth gives you a new life that changes things even more.
Once you’re home with your bundle of joy, your body starts changing again, and when you start showing interest in having sex, you need to know if you’re ready.
If you live in the Lake Mary, Florida, area and you’re wondering about sex after giving birth and other post-delivery concerns, you can count on board-certified OB/GYN Dr. Christopher Quinsey and our medical team. We have the experience to help you.
To further explore sex post-childbirth, let’s look at postpartum vaginal changes, the challenges you may face when trying to have sex, and how long after having a child it’s safe to start.
Vaginal changes to expect after childbirth
Once your baby is born, your body sheds all of the mucous membrane that once lined the uterus during pregnancy, along with all of the afterbirth right after delivery. Vaginal discharges of mucous and blood may take weeks and can be quite heavy in the first few days.
Soreness is very normal, and depending on whether there was any tearing during delivery, it may also last for several weeks.
Hormonal changes cause thinning and higher sensitivity in the vaginal walls. It and the rest of your reproductive system (cervix and uterus) need time to return to normal size. As a result, you can experience a lower libido right after as you start breastfeeding.
You can also expect to lose weight both from delivery and from the fluids you held during pregnancy that leave your body over time.
Safest time frame
The amount of time is not fixed, but wait at least four to six weeks after a vaginal delivery, and about six weeks after a cesarean delivery to have sex. Other considerations for the time frame include any perineal or vaginal tears and whether you had an episiotomy to ease delivery.
After delivering a child, your body is in healing mode, as the process of bonding with your child begins its earliest stages. So in the time frames mentioned, your body stops the bleeding, closes the cervix, and heals tears.
If you have sex too early, you run the risk of uterine infection or postpartum hemorrhage. Even if you wait for a month to month and a half to have sex post-childbirth, studies show that you can have problems. In fact, you may have problems for up to three months.
Challenges of postpartum sex
Here are some issues that can complicate postpartum sex:
Many of the challenges are a reflection of the radical change in hormone levels you undergo after childbirth. Your hormones return to pre-pregnancy levels days after delivery and go even lower if you’re breastfeeding. Common issues include:
- Vaginal dryness
- Thinning of the vaginal walls
- Bleeding, pain, and soreness
- Lower libido
The vaginal muscles stretch during childbirth. Even if you wait the minimum amount of time to have sex, your vaginal muscles are still recovering stability and strength. As a result, sex may feel looser initially but should improve over time.
You risk infection if you have sex too soon, but even if you wait, your hormones are still changing and your vagina is still likely to be dry and the muscles will be thinner. This can lead to irritation and bleeding, which increases the chances of infection.
Use lubricants to help mitigate these issues and lower risks.
Sex will return to normal after you give birth, but the when can be difficult to know sometimes. For issues with sex after giving birth or other postpartum concerns, contact us for an appointment with Dr. Quinsey today.