Clitoral Pain Postpartum: Why You Have It & What You Can Do About It

Are you suffering from pain in your clitoris after having your baby?

You are not alone.

This post will explain why you might be experiencing postpartum clitoral pain and what you could do about it.

Let’s get started!

clitoral-pain-postpartum

Disclaimer

***READ FIRST***

Although I am a doctor, I am not your doctor. This information is for informational purposes only and should not substitute the advice from your healthcare professional. All kinds of exercise and dietary changes are potentially dangerous, and those who do not seek counsel from the appropriate health care authority assume the liability of any injury which may occur. Please read my full Disclaimer for more information. Also, this post may contain affiliate links: meaning I may receive a commission if you use them.

Ok, moving on.



What causes Clitoral pain postpartum?

There are many reasons why you might have pain in your clitoris after giving birth.

Typically, postpartum clitoral pain is due to the stress of a vaginal birth.

As your baby’s head comes out of the vagina, many things can happen to the clitoral region.

Here are the most common effects:

1. Laceration or tear

More than 50% of women will experience some type of tear while giving birth.

Most of the time, the laceration is on the bottom of the vaginal opening, aka a perineal tear. However, a laceration can also extend upwards.

You can have:

  • a laceration or abrasion of the clitoris itself
  • a laceration or abrasion of the area around the urethra
  • a laceration or abrasion on the upper aspect of your labia minora

Depending on the location of the tear, and if stitches are needed, you might experience significant pain near the clitoris.

Even a small first-degree tear can cause significant discomfort.

2. Bruising and swelling of the clitoris

Most women will deliver a baby that weighs anywhere from 6-8 lbs. The bigger the baby, the more your pelvic floor muscles and vaginal tissue needs to stretch.

The baby’s head will place a tremendous amount of pressure in this area, leading to bruising and swelling of the clitoris.

Also, if a nerve is irritated during the delivery, you might also feel numbness in some pelvic areas.

3. Pubic symphysis dysfunction

Lastly, if you suffered from pubic symphysis dysfunction (a separation of the ligament holding your pubic bone together), you will feel pain in your pelvis and perineum. This pain can also be referred to your clitoral region.

If you have a significant amount of pubic pain with any sort of movement, you likely have pubic symphysis dysfunction.

symphysis-pubic-dysfunction

This condition is diagnosed by x-ray.

The good news is, it typically resolves with rest and physical therapy.

Is it normal for the clitoris to hurt after birth?

It is very common for your genitals/clitoral area to hurt after giving birth. This is especially true if you suffered from a laceration or abrasion near the clitoris, delivered a large baby, or have a history of chronic pain.

One study found that 50% of patients surveyed had genital or pelvic pain that lasted at least 3 months.

Your symptoms can range from pain to a burning sensation, to even numbness.

Your body needs time to heal and you must give it this time.

Is the pain permanent?

Many patients report that genital pain can last several weeks to several months.

The good news is, the pain does tend to improve with time.

The healing process can take months because damaged nerve endings regenerate very slowly.

If you are 4-6 months postpartum and still have significant clitoral pain, you should speak with your OBGYN physician.

It is important to ensure that nothing else is going on like a urinary tract infection or a dermatologic condition.

What Can I Do For Pain Management?

Understand that genital pain postpartum is common. It is important that you take care of your perineum and vagina in the first 6-12 weeks after delivery.

This includes:

  • Avoiding the use of tampons and other hygiene products
  • Avoiding any sexual activity if it causes you pain (clitoral stimulation can be painful in the postpartum period)
  • Avoiding any abrasive materials when washing yourself
  • Try to do kegel exercises if you can to increase blood flow to the area
  • Using a peri-bottle to squirt warm water to your perineum as you are urinating
  • Using ice packs as needed
  • Using stool softeners as needed for constipation
  • Use natural moisturizers if you have vaginal dryness
  • Using a sitz bath
  • Taking pain relief medication prescribed by your healthcare provider
  • Being patient- let the area heal
clitoral-pain-postpartum

Other Common Misconceptions

Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions that you will hear regarding your clitoral pain postpartum.

Many women associate getting an epidural catheter as a possible cause of genital pain.

An epidural catheter is placed in a specific location in your back, known as the epidural space. This numbs the nerves that innervate the pelvis, to give you pain relief.

The catheter is typically removed after delivery, and the nerves regain function in a few hours.

Clitoral pain is not associated with an epidural.

You may also hear that your clitoral pain is due to the foley catheter that is placed in your bladder.

Pain at the clitoris is unlikely to be caused by the foley catheter, as it gets placed into your urethra.

The urethra is at least 1 cm away from the clitoris. In addition, the catheter is soft and malleable, and unlikely to cause any significant trauma to this area.

Final Words on Postpartum Clitoral Pain

Postpartum clitoral pain is a common complaint in women who have had vaginal deliveries.

Try to understand what happened during your delivery, especially if you had any small tears, lacerations, or an episiotomy. That way, you can properly care for your body and set expectations for yourself.

Either way, these sensitive areas always need time to heal!

Now I want to hear from you.

Did you suffer or are you suffering from clitoral pain postpartum?

What did you do about it?

Comment below and let me know.

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Brittany N Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

Brittany Robles is a full-time OBGYN, a NASM certified personal trainer, and health & fitness, expert. She holds a Masters of Public Health degree in maternal health with a special interest in exercise and nutrition. She is also the co-author of The White Coat Trainer. Learn more about her here.



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References:

  1. Samuelsson E, Ladfors L, Lindblom BG, Hagberg H. A prospective observational study on tears during vaginal delivery: occurrences and risk factors. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2002 Jan;81(1):44-9. doi: 10.1046/j.0001-6349.2001.10182.x. PMID: 11942886.
  2. Paterson LQ, Davis SN, Khalifé S, Amsel R, Binik YM. Persistent genital and pelvic pain after childbirth. J Sex Med. 2009 Jan;6(1):215-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2008.01063.x. PMID: 19170851.

2 thoughts on “Clitoral Pain Postpartum: Why You Have It & What You Can Do About It”

  1. I just had a baby last month and had a second degree tear near mine 😭 I’ve just been taking it easy as possible. The first week I took 800mg ibuprofen the hospital gave me which barely helped. The peri bottle was a life saver. It was sooo painful and hard to shower and four weeks later the pain is still there, only slightly better. Never doing this again.

    1. Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

      Hi there,

      Thank you so much for your comment and congratulations on the birth of your baby!

      I am so sorry you are still in pain but hopefully with each day the pain decreases. If you are still in pain by your postpartum visit definitely speak with your health care provider so he/she could evaluate the perineum.

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