If you have questions about postpartum sex, you are in the right place.
After reading this post, you will learn everything you need to know about getting intimate after having your baby.
Specifically, you will learn:
- how long you should wait before having sex,
- what to do if you have pain or bleeding during sex, and
- tips on how to resume sex after birth safely
Okay, let’s get started.
How long do I have to wait before having sex Postpartum?
After a vaginal delivery, you should wait approximately 4-6 weeks before putting anything in your vagina.
Because this is the amount of time it will take for
- your body to bounce back from the delivery,
- your vagina to repair itself, and
- for your cervix to close up and heal.
This is also the reason why your postpartum visit occurs 3-6 weeks after delivery.
At this visit, you will have a physical exam to look at your cervix, and any vaginal or perineal tears sustained from childbirth.
Believe it or not, 2/3 of all women will experience some sort of laceration during the birthing process.
The bigger the laceration, the more time you will need to let your vagina heal.
What If I Had A C-Section?
If you had a c-section, you should still wait 4-6 weeks to have sexual intercourse for other reasons.
#1. Your incisions need time to heal (and different sexual positions can place a lot of strain on your abdomen)
#2. Your cervix might be sore- even though you didn’t have a vaginal delivery, intercourse can simply irritate your cervix, causing significant pain.
#3. If you had an unplanned c-section, your cervix probably dilated a few centimeters and will need time to close back up and heal.
Can I have sex 3 weeks after giving birth?
If you had a relatively uncomplicated normal vaginal delivery and you feel ready, you may be able to have sex 3 weeks after giving birth.
You are more likely to be able to have sex 3 weeks postpartum if:
- you did not have any stitches placed on your vagina or perineum,
- you aren’t experiencing any vaginal bleeding and
- you aren’t experiencing any significant pain
Just be sure, to give your health care provider a call to make sure there is no other reason why you would not be able to have sex sooner than 4-6 weeks.
What Happens If I Have Sex Before 6 weeks?
If you have sex before the 4-6 weeks postpartum, you may be susceptible to an infection or disrupting the vaginal sutures that you had placed.
The opening of the cervix is normally the size of a pin.
In order to have a full-term vaginal delivery, your cervix has to dilate to ~10 cm.
How big is 10cm?
The size of a full-term baby’s head.
Ideally, you would want your cervix to close before putting anything in your vagina
As you could imagine, vaginal intercourse can push bacteria that is normally present inside the vagina, upwards towards the cervix, and into the uterus causing an infection.
A uterine infection will present with fever, chills, abdominal pain, and foul-smelling vaginal discharge.
You must let your doctor know if you experience any of these symptoms.
As far as disruption of vaginal or perineal sutures goes…
…that is self-explanatory.
How long does it take for the cervix to close after birth?
The cervix can take anywhere from 4-6 weeks to close after giving birth.
Everyone is different.
The thought is that the cervix closes at the same rate as it takes for your uterus to return back to normal size.
What Does Sex Feel Like After Postpartum?
Postpartum sex will feel different for every woman.
In general, many new moms report that postpartum sex is painful. This is totally normal – and usually indicates that you might need more time to heal.
In addition, some women might feel “loose” while other women might feel “tight.”
In order to understand this difference, we need to go over the physical changes that happen during the delivery.
First, your vagina and pelvic floor muscles stretch significantly to accommodate the passage of your baby through the birth canal.
If you did not experience any tear or laceration, you may feel “loose” because all these muscles have been stretched out.
In this case, I recommend you start doing kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor and regain the strength and elasticity of the pelvic muscles.
Now let’s go over why you might feel tight.
Why am I so tight after having a baby?
If you experienced a deep vaginal tear/laceration, your doctor probably had to place a few stitches.
Depending on the location of the laceration, (as well as the extent of it) the stitches might pull your vaginal tissue more tightly than you are used to.
This is normal, and often necessary in order for your vaginal tissue to heal evenly.
In this situation, I recommend you try a water-based postpartum lube to help with penetration.
How Do I resume sex after having a baby? (Postpartum Sex Tips)
So how do you resume sex after having a baby?
The number one piece of advice I can give you is…
Take your time and listen to your body!
It is normal for your self-confidence and your sexual desire (libido) to be low. There are many hormonal changes that your body is experiencing, which can also affect your mood.
In addition, sex might be painful for the first couple of weeks.
During this time, it’s important that you:
- Practice your kegel exercises
- Talk with your partner about your expectations
- Get some lubrication (as vaginal dryness is not uncommon postpartum)
- Try to make time for sex in the midst of everything (even if it means getting a babysitter one night a week)
Ways to be intimate after having a baby
Here are some ways you could have physical intimacy and spice up your sex life:
- Cuddle with your partner as much as you can
- Go on a daily walk with your partner (with your stroller)
- Take a hot shower together while the baby is sleeping
- Go out to eat once or twice a month while you get a babysitter
- Exchange massages with warm oils when you don’t feel like having sex.
What Should I Do If Have Pain With Postpartum Sex?
Painful sex, (also known as dyspareunia), can occur after childbirth for several reasons.
The most common things to look out for include:
- Vaginal dryness
- Avoiding painful position
- Ensuring that your vagina has healed
- Postpartum depression
Let’s go over each one by one.
After childbirth, your hormone levels are completely out of whack. In addition, breastfeeding also interferes with your body’s ability to produce estrogen.
Estrogen is the hormone that keeps the vagina supple and lubricated.
As a result, these low levels of estrogen can lead to vaginal dryness.
As you could imagine, this can make sex very uncomfortable, especially the first time you try penetrative sex again.
To overcome this, try using this postpartum lube prior to intercourse that has pretty awesome reviews.
Depending on your anatomy, certain sexual positions can cause more pain than others.
As always, don’t rush into things and take it slow.
Start with positions that do not involve deep penetration as these positions could irritate your cervix and lead to increased sexual discomfort.
Try the missionary position or a side-lying position.
If your vagina has not adequately healed from your delivery, you will definitely experience pain with intercourse.
This is especially true if you required stitches, as these need 4-6 weeks to heal. Your doctor will examine the lacerations at your postpartum visit to ensure that everything is healing appropriately.
Postpartum depression (PPD) can also manifest in a variety of ways including painful intercourse.
It can be very difficult to differentiate normal postpartum changes from postpartum depression but if you have experienced any of the following symptoms, you should speak with your healthcare provider and seek help ASAP.
Here are common symptoms of PPD.
- Loss of interest in things that used to make you happy
- Feelings of guilt
- Decreased energy
- Unable to concentrate
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling that you are moving slowly
- Thought of hurting yourself or others.
Is bleeding After Sex Normal Postpartum?
It is normal to experience bleeding whenever you have sex after birth. Bleeding after postpartum sex can occur for one of several reasons:
If one of the stitches that were placed in the vagina or perineum becomes loose and pops off during vaginal penetration, you can begin to experience bleeding from your vagina.
This can be a problem especially if you had a deep vaginal tear that required multiple sutures.
In the postpartum period, you have decreased levels of estrogen, especially if you are breastfeeding. This can cause the vagina to lose its lubrication.
The penetration of dry tissue can cause continuous friction, leading to mucosa breakdown and bleeding.
Expulsion of blood already in the Uterus
Engaging in sex too soon could also lead to bleeding during sex as the uterus is still contracting down to its pre-pregnancy size.
While the uterus is contracting down, any clots or tissue that was left inside the uterus will be evacuated.
This could even occur during orgasm, as the uterus can contract and expel any remaining blood products inside of it.
Other Related Questions
Can I have an orgasm after giving birth?
Yes, you can have an orgasm after giving birth. There is no medical contraindication to achieving climax as long as you have been cleared by your provider to resume sexual activity.
With that said, you may notice increased difficulty in achieving orgasm after delivery due to the changes in your hormones.
How soon can you have an orgasm after giving birth?
You can begin external clitoral stimulation as soon as you feel comfortable to do so.
However, it is important to ensure that you don’t have any peri-clitoral lacerations or stitches near the clitoris.
Why can’t I climax postpartum?
There are several reasons why you may not be able to climax after giving birth.
The most common reasons include:
- Low sex drive
- Mental fatigue
- Sleep deprivation
- Postpartum depression
One of the most common reasons is that you might have A LOT on your mind.
You are still healing from your delivery, you are sleep-deprived, your eating habits have changed, and your self-confidence might not be what it used to be.
In addition, your mind is constantly thinking about what your baby needs, how often you need to breastfeed, who is going to fold the laundry, why you still look pregnant, if your husband still finds you attractive, etc.
It is perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed.
Reaching orgasm requires a state of comfort and relaxation.
Lack of Sleep
How many hours of sleep are you getting each night?
When was the last time you had uninterrupted sleep for 6-8 hours?
There are studies that have actually demonstrated the direct association between longer sleep duration and greater sexual desire.
Obviously, getting quality sleep at this time is a lot easier said than done.
I recommend, getting a babysitter or family member to help you out a few times a week so that you can get a full night’s sleep once in a while.
You will be surprised at the difference in your stress levels, eating habits, and desire for sex.
The last reason why you might not be able to orgasm is that you might have postpartum depression (PPD).
This is a serious condition that requires medical attention.
Symptoms of PPD include feelings of sadness, guilt, hopelessness, lack of interest, and inability to bond with your baby.
This also includes a lack of sexual desire.
Studies have shown that women with PPD have significantly worse sexual satisfaction.
If you think you have PPD – please seek care AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!
What would happen if I had sex 2 weeks after giving birth?
If you have sex 2 weeks after giving birth, you will increase your risk of hemorrhage (especially if you had stitches) and uterine infection.
Can I get pregnant 2 weeks after giving birth?
It is unlikely that you will get pregnant 2 weeks after giving birth. With that said, your body can resume normal menstrual cycles and begin ovulating as early as 6-8 weeks after birth.
Therefore, it is important that you have a reliable method of birth control either before you leave the hospital or by the time you get to your postpartum visits.
Can I use condoms after birth?
Yes, you can use condoms after birth.
Condoms are a decent method of barrier contraception and protect you against sexually transmitted diseases.
More effective forms of birth control include pills (you will need progesterone-only pills if breastfeeding, the implant, the copper IUD, or the progesterone releasing IUD.
How soon after birth can you get pregnant?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends an inter-delivery interval (from one delivery to the next) of at least 18 months. Assuming a 9-month pregnancy, you should wait at least 9 months postpartum before getting pregnant again.
However, it is possible to get pregnant sooner, even if you are breastfeeding and don’t have regular periods.
Having a short inter-pregnancy interval will increase your risk of having a preterm delivery.
Make sure to have a visit with your primary care doctor to discuss contraception.
When will my period come back after delivery?
Your postpartum period should return approximately 6-8 weeks after your delivery if you are not breastfeeding.
If you are breastfeeding, your period may not come back until you stop breastfeeding as the hormones normally responsible for causing you to menstruate, are being inhibited.
How long should sex last postpartum?
On average, studies have shown that sex can last anywhere from 3-13 minutes.
When attempting sex for the first few times after childbirth, take it slow.
Your body is still going through some amazing changes and recovering from the birthing process.
Make sure you are comfortable and be sure to communicate with your partner.
Final Words on Sex After Birth
Sexual health postpartum is very important and something you shouldn’t ignore.
Be sure to speak with your doctor and hold off on resuming sex if you are still bleeding, experiencing pain, or simply don’t feel ready.
Now I want to hear from you.
When did you resume sex after baby?
Which challenges did you face?
Comment below and let me know!
Related Posts On Postpartum States
- How To Boost Your Confidence & Self-Esteem Postpartum
- How To Lose Weight While Breastfeeding [Everything You Need To Know]
- How to Exercise Postpartum Before 6 Weeks [Safely & Effectively]
Get Four Free Workouts To Help Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor & Heal Your Mommy Tummy!
Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT
Brittany Robles is a full-time OBGYN physician, a NASM certified trainer, and a prenatal and postnatal fitness specialist. She holds a Master 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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