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4 Reasons Moms Experience Painful Sex After Childbirth
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  • Sex isn't high on the to-do list of a woman who just gave birth, and it's pretty self-explanatory. Childbirth takes an enormous toll on a woman's body that they may not feel comfortable with their new body three or even 18 months postpartum. But more worrisome is when you become intimate with your husband and it's painful! 

    Why sex after childbirth may be painful

    According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) you may be experiencing painful sexual intercourse or dyspareunia after childbirth for any of the following reasons: 

    You have a tear down there

    Your stitches may have split open or you haven't healed from your episiotomy, a procedure where the doctor cuts to the perineum and the muscles beneath (between the vagina and the anus) to widen the birth canal. Doctors often advise you to wait at least six weeks to give your body a chance to heal, especially if you gave birth via C-section or had an episiotomy.  

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    You feel dry down there

    Breastfeeding is beneficial for moms, but it does lower your estrogen levels and can make the vagina dry. You may need a longer time for foreplay, and with the possibility of the baby waking up, it's easy to just say "next time." If you're not lubricated enough and your partner penetrates you, even if he does so slowly, it can hurt, and the in-and-out friction can cause pain.

    You have a low sex drive

    Blame it on the fluctuating hormones not just because you're nursing, but also because your body is trying to get back to its pre-pregnant state. It doesn't help that you're worried that you smell like spit-ups, your breasts are leaking, or that you're not getting enough quality sleep.

    You had a C-section

    Just because the baby didn't pass through a woman's vagina doesn't mean she's good to go have sex again sooner than women who gave birth via natural vaginal delivery (NSD). A 2015 study revealed that women who had given birth via CS also experience painful sex, even twice more likely than women who delivered via NSD. Apart from caring for the incision wound on the abdomen towards full recovery, having a CS may also affect your bladder and bowels. Doctors say it has to do with muscles and nerves affected by pregnancy and labor.

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    What you can do to address painful postpartum sex

    You won't know you have dyspareunia until you have sex, but there is no need to rush and resume sexual activity after childbirth. Your body needs time to completely heal. If you're looking for an exact waiting time, there is none. The typical doctor's advice is to wait at least four to eight weeks after delivery. Some women wait until after their lochia or postpartum vaginal discharge has cleared or after their first menstruation, which may take longer than expected if you're exclusively breastfeeding.

    It's vital you don't leave your husband in the dark as to why you're putting off getting physically intimate again. Let him know your concerns and even broach the idea of being intimate with no-sex activities. Who knows, he may have some ideas to get you in the mood for sex, like giving you a massage or having a glass of wine (preferably right after feeding). Your partner should know what works for you and what feels painful.

    When you're ready to dive in and have sex again, remember to ease in and take it slow. Having sex the first time after childbirth may hurt. But if it persists, you may have to see a doctor.

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