Sex After Delivery: What to Expect, How Long to Wait, Tips, Is it Safe?
It is natural to want to jump right into sex after you’ve given birth, especially if your pregnancy affected your sex life quite a lot. But, it is not advisable to resume intercourse as soon as you’ve delivered because your body undergoes a lot of changes and needs its own time to recover before you can begin enjoying sex again.
What is the general waiting time for sex after delivery?
Really, it depends on the method of your delivery, the complications you faced and even your mental state. The general rule of thumb is to wait around 4-6 weeks if you have given a vaginal birth and a full 6 weeks if your method was cesarean.
Your body undergoes a host of hormonal changes after giving birth which can make your vaginal tissue thinner and more sensitive. Even your vagina, uterus and cervix take time to return back to their original size after delivery. If you are breastfeeding, it can end up lowering your libido and leaving you in no mood for sex.
Further, if you have undergone an episiotomy or a perineal tear, you may have to wait longer since sex increases the risk of postpartum complications like a hemorrhage or a uterine infection. The best thing to do is take your doctor’s advice and wait till they say it’s okay to go ahead with sex.
Also, consider the effects on your libido
During pregnancy, there is a surge in the levels of estrogen and progesterone which are both required for the healthy development of a baby and to have a higher libido. But, after giving birth, these hormones decrease and return to their pre-pregnancy level, which means that you may not feel sexual for a few weeks.
Further, if you’re breastfeeding, it may take your sex drive longer to return because breastfeeding keeps estrogen levels low. And, once the new baby arrives, sleepless nights and fatigue become your companions, and your libido can take a serious hit because of these. But, once your body has adjusted to the changes and your hormone levels return to normal, your sex drive should go up back again.
How will your delivery affect sex?
Sex after delivery definitely feels different, at least for a while. There may even be pain involved due to all the changes that your body undergoes during and after giving birth for at least the first three months.
The common issues affecting your sex drive post-delivery can include:
- Vaginal dryness
- Loss of elasticity of the vaginal tissues
- Thin vaginal tissue
- Bleeding and pain
- Soreness down there
- Lowered sex drive
When the vaginal tissues become dry, you may experience pain and bleeding during sex which can also increase your chances of contracting an infection. Further, if you have delivered naturally, your vaginal muscles can stretch out and take time to return to normal, which can make sex feel different.
An episiotomy and perineal tear can take longer to heal, making sex too soon painful and also increasing your chances of an infection. A cesarean delivery can also have an effect on your vaginal sensation because a similar hormonal imbalance causes your vagina to become dry and thin, leading to painful sex. Plus since you had surgery, it will take the incision area time to heal completely before it no longer hurts.
Is bleeding during sex supposed to be a normal thing post-delivery?
Immediately after childbirth, it is normal to have postpartum bleeding that lasts for a few weeks and sex can cause some additional blood loss because the vagina becomes drier and more sensitive during this time. Sex can lead to tearing or injury, or make the vagina inflamed and swollen, which can all contribute to bleeding.
If you experience bleeding beyond 6 weeks, you should see a doctor and check if you sustained an injury or irritation that is causing more bleeding than normal and get it treated before resuming sexual activities.
How soon can you get pregnant after delivery?
In order to get pregnant, ovulation needs to occur, which varies from one person to another and on the fact whether you are breastfeeding or not. Generally, women who are not breastfeeding ovulate around 6 weeks later or even lesser than that.
With breastfeeding, you have a lesser chance of getting pregnant for up to 6 months, but it is not guaranteed that you will not conceive. You should still look into contraceptive methods like condoms to be safe. You can also go for implants or oral contraceptives, but hormones can sometimes increase your risk of blood clots. So, it is best to speak to your doctor regarding what will suit you best.
But, is it safe to conceive again in the first year?
It is generally advisable to wait around 12 to 18 months between each pregnancy as any lesser than that can increase your risk of premature births or birth defects. Talk to a health professional who can help you with planning your pregnancies so that there are lesser chances of anything going wrong.
Tips to begin having sex after delivery
It’s okay to be a little anxious before you begin having sex again, but here are a few tips that can make the process easier:
- Communicate with your partner - You should keep open lines of communication with your partner, even if it is to say you’re not ready for intercourse just yet. But, it doesn’t have to be scary and bad if you are able to express what feels good for you and what doesn’t.
- Don’t rush - Just because your doctor clears you for sexual activities, it doesn’t mean that you will be ready to jump into it headfirst. Take things one day at a time and slowly warm up to sex by exploring other intimate activities first, like maybe kissing and a massage.
- Engage in foreplay - Your vagina can be drier than usual for some time after sex, which is why you should invest ample time in foreplay for proper lubrication so that sex doesn’t become painful.
- Do kegel exercises - Kegel exercises are great for strengthening your vaginal muscles, increasing lubrication and sensation in the vagina, which can make sex better and less painful.
- Consider using a lubricant - As your hormones return to normal, you may need a hand with lubrication. It is good to invest in a water-based lubricant because oil-based ones can irritate you and damage latex condoms.
- Set a time aside for having sex - A new baby can seriously change your schedule upside down, which can often leave you with little room for sex. So, it is important that you plan your time ahead so you can enjoy intimacy and sex even with a new baby to take care of.
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