Having Sex after Pregnancy: Are You Prepared?
Now you’ve got a new little person’s wellbeing to watch out for, sex after pregnancy might be the last thing on your mind. However, at some point you will start to think about your sexual health again, and you need to understand what to expect and how to renew intimacy with your partner.
When can you start? Unfortunately, sex after pregnancy can be a little harmful to your wellness in the early stages, thanks to vaginal soreness and sheer exhaustion. Whether you have had a c-section or given birth vaginally, your body will need time to heal and so jumping back in bed is perhaps not the best idea. Most wellness experts will agree that you need to wait for four to six weeks before having sex again, as this will give your body time for your cervix to close, postpartum bleeding to stop, and any tears or repaired lacerations to heal. However, there’s another important timeline to consider; your own. While some women are jumping at the bit to have sex again, others need a few months or even longer to move past the fatigue, stress and fear of pain that all take a toll on your sex drive.
Will it hurt? You go through a lot of hormonal changes after pregnancy – especially if you’re breast-feeding – which means your vagina will most likely be dry and tender. This means you need to take things slow to help ease any discomfort during sex. Start with some cuddling, kissing or massage before you gradually move on to a greater intensity of stimulation. Lubricants and gels can help with vaginal dryness, as can trying different positions to take pressure off any sore areas and control penetration. As is always the case with sex, communication is crucial, so you need to tell your partner what feels good — and what doesn’t. If sex continues to be painful, consult your health care provider about possible treatment options.
Will it feel different? If you delivered vaginally, the muscle tone in your vagina will have decreased, meaning that the pleasurable friction you normally experience during sex may be missing. This can have an influence on your arousal and enjoyment of sex, albeit temporarily. Kegel exercises can help you to tone your pelvic floor muscles more quickly, and, as a result, get back to that amazing arousal you used to experience. To locate the right muscles, stop your flow while peeing. The muscles that you use to do this are the ones you need to contract, exhaling as you do so and inhaling when you release. Try it for five seconds at a time, four or five times in a row, and then work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions. Eventually, you should be aiming to do at least three sets of 10 Kegel exercises a day.
What birth control do you need? Even if you’re breast-feeding, sex after pregnancy requires a reliable method of birth control – unless you’re eager to go through childbirth again! Barrier methods such as condoms and spermicides are available over-the-counter and are safe to use at any time. Birth control methods that contain only the hormone progestin, such as the minipill or Mirena, a hormonal intrauterine device (IUD), are also OK to use immediately after childbirth, but any method that contains oestrogen – such as combined birth control pills or the vaginal ring – may increase your risk of blood clots. If you want to return to combined birth control pills or other types of combined hormonal birth control, it is recommended that you wait until six weeks after childbirth.