Painful Sex Postpartum – Why Painful Sex After Birth-Tips-Treatment
Painful Sex After BABY Birth
A mother has to go through a series of bodily changes to adapt to the new change happening inside of her. It takes a lot of mental and physical effort to cope with the unprecedented changes, especially if a mother became pregnant for the first time.
The hormonal changes add a log to the fire. The hormonal changes bring emotional ups and down while the mood never stays steady. A woman has to give up on several life activities, and she has to endure all kinds of pain and the physical strain that comes with pregnancy.
The constant visits to the hospitals, diagnostic tests, and waiting for several is, no doubt, a tough task. On top of that, in the last days of pregnancy, even movement becomes a strenuous activity. Then at the time of the birth, the painful contractions and the experience of labor per se are nothing less than actual labor that takes a toll on the physical health of the mother and makes her weak and vulnerable.
The ordeal does not stop here. After the birth of the baby, the life of a new mother becomes a constant test. She not only has to take care of herself, but she also has to take good care of the newborn, and she has to do all this in the same weak state.
So, after weeks of pain and an emotional roller coaster, a mother is able to relax, but even after weeks of vulnerability, the body of a mother does not heal completely, and this comes to light when a woman has her first intercourse after the birth of her child.
Painful Sex After BABY
The first sex after birth is extremely painful for most women. Women complain of sharp and sudden pain that comes with having sex after her newborn. As a fact, almost 50 to 60 percent of women complain about this issue during the first weeks of delivery, while 30 percent still complain about it even after six months to the delivery of her baby.
Unfortunately, a large percentage of such women who experience painful sex after birth do not talk about their issue with their doctor, or anyone else. There could be several reasons behind this. Women do not like to talk about it primarily because they think it is embarrassing to talk about their sex life with their doctors.
Secondly, women think it is some kind of abnormality, and it is a health risk, so they somewhat decide to keep their pain hidden during postpartum. Or another reason could be because all these women do not know who they should go up to with this problem. They know their GYN/obs doctor only deals with a woman’s delivery and her reproductive health, and they are not the ones a woman can share their sexual problems with.
If we look closely at the reasons why women hesitate to reach out to a doctor about her problem is because of one common reason, and that is a lack of awareness. Women do not have anyone to counsel them about their sex life after the birth of their child.
It is because most doctors focus on the health of the mother and the baby to ensure both of them continue to live a healthy life ahead, which is, of course, the main goal for a doctor. But as a doctor, it is their duty to inform the mother about her sexual health and inform her about the consequences of the birth of her child on her sexual life.
Many doctors do guide their female patients on this topic, but unfortunately, many doctors do not, and this leaves most women in a puzzled state about themselves. The guidance is limited to how to use birth control or how to take care of the stitches that women got down there.
In this article, we will provide with the reasons as to why sex is painful after birth, what you can do about this, and what are the tips and tricks to improve your sex life after the birth of your baby so that you are able to enjoy life as much as you did before you baby was born.
What Is Dyspareunia?
Dyspareunia is a medical term used to define the pain while having sex. It includes painful penetration, painful intercourse, or painful orgasms. There are many causes as to why sex hurts after birth. It is commonly because of tightness or even looseness in the vagina, dryness in the vagina, loss of the desire to have sex or bleeding during sex.
Why Painful Sex After Baby Birth?
On an average, a woman can have sex after the 6th week of delivery, which the recommended time by doctors to allow the healing of the body before intimacy, but it does mean a woman can still crave for sex.
According to the physical condition of a woman, she may not want to have sex because she may feel tired and unattractive during this period. But the worst part is that sex is painful during this period. Even if a woman’s body heals, it may not be ready for sex this early.
Here are a few reasons as to why sex hurts after the birth of a baby:
Stitches In The Perineum:
A woman who gets a tear between her vagina and anus while giving birth receives an episiotomy. An episiotomy is a stitch to close the tear and allow better healing. In most cases, doctors put stitches as they would without referring to the patient if they need an extra stitch. For this reason, a lot of women receive an extra stitch because the doctor put it or because the tear was long that it needed an extra stitch.
However, most women are unaware of what is going on down there. They are not aware of the number of stitches, and this may hurt their sexual life because a greater number of stitches mean that the vagina has been made smaller in size, which will make penetration painful and hard.
A woman can always inform her doctor about how many stitches she should get, or a doctor should always ask the patient about the number of stitches they are putting or guide them how many they would need.
In addition to this, a woman should consider the time of healing herself. Even though the recommended time of healing is six weeks, but it is no rule, and every woman should judge her condition herself. If she feels that her region has completely healed, then she may have sexual intercourse, or if her vagina is still tender, then she should allow herself more time to heal before she has sex as she knows her body better than any doctor.
Lower Estrogen Levels:
During pregnancy, the levels of the hormones estrogen and prolactin are very high in order to maintain the pregnancy until the end of the term. As soon as the baby is born, the level of estrogen and progesterone fall drastically, first, because the pregnancy has ended, secondly, because a woman now has to breastfeed her baby, which means it is not time for the levels of prolactin to go high.
Prolactin is a hormone that helps in the production of milk in the mammary gland after the birth of the fetus. The important point to be noted here is that prolactin and estrogen are antagonists of one another. If the estrogen levels are high, then prolactin levels will below, and if prolactin levels are high, then estrogen levels will be low.
And since a mother has to breastfeed her baby after the baby is born, then it means the levels of prolactin are naturally high in the body, and levels of estrogen levels are low. And because estrogen is a hormone that keeps the vagina healthy and drives libido in women, lower levels of estrogen in a mother who is breastfeeding will cause dryness of the vagina and reduced sexual drive.
Subsequently, it will lead to painful and undesirable sex for quite some time after the delivery of the baby for as long as the mother is breastfeeding.
Weak And Tender Pelvic Floor:
A woman’s pelvic floor constitutes a group of important muscles that originates from the pubic bone and inserts into the coccyx of the vertebrae, which is the tail bone. It is called the pelvic floor because the muscles literally make a floor that supports the organs and keep them in place, and it is also where the baby rests during pregnancy.
When the baby is in the uterus and is lying against the support of the pelvic floor, then it is the strong pelvic floor stopping the baby in its place, but at the time of birth particularly vaginal birth, the pelvic floor goes through a lot of injuries, trauma, and tear, it may occur in a c section, too, but it more common with vaginal delivery.
When a pelvic floor is injured during birth, it renders the muscles weak and tender. Since the vagina is also a constituent of the pelvic floor, it becomes painful and hard to have penetrations, and sex hurts greatly. During the time of healing, on the other hand, the muscles are hyperactive, which means it is spasmatic, which another reason for the painful sexual intercourse.
Is Painful Sex Common After Birth?
There are several women who present to the clinic with the symptoms of discomfort to the clinic. This means it is a fairly common phenomenon in women after the birth of their baby to experience painful sex. Also, because the reasons why sex is painful is readily common; therefore, a woman is rendered vulnerable at the time of intimacy with her partner.
A larger group of woman has painful sex during the first weeks following delivery, and still many women continue with the discomfort even after 6 to 8 months following delivery. It only proves how common it is for sex to hurt after birth. Also, many studies have supported the claim made by women.
The type of delivery has a big role to play in this factor because a greater percentage of women who experience painful sex have gone through vaginal delivery, but it does not mean a c section is not the cause. Trauma may occur during the c section to either the muscles of the pelvic floor or nerve that supply the group of muscles that make the pelvic floor.
What Are The Tips And Methods Of Treatment For Painful Sex?
There are multiple ways to improve the sex life of a couple. Th good part is the most of the methods that help with the improvement are very easy, and basic that a woman can do herself from the comfort of her home. She does have to visit a doctor, especially for this problem. However, it does require a woman and also her partner to put in some extra effort that can help them build a stronger bond.
All the tips and tricks also require determination. But the fact that women suffer during sex is enough of a determination to push a woman towards making the best of the treatment to bring some ease in her sex life. And not only the woman but a little cooperation is also required from the male partner, too.
When both individuals are conforming the treatment plan, there are high chances that they will succeed. It just needs cooperation from both parties to achieve positive results. On the other hand, a woman must mentally be strong to face the mental and physical demands all this treatment requires.
Sticking to a treatment plan is never easy, so it is best to prepare it in the mind that it has to be done and there is no other way out, and if we look at a brighter side, then the best a woman can achieve is a better sex life and intimacy with her partner.
Below Are Some Tips And Treatment Plans To Help A Woman With Improved Sex Life & Intimacy.
Use a water-based lubricant:
A lubricant is a must if a woman wants better sex with her partner. A woman’s vagina goes dry after birth, mainly because of the drop in the levels of estrogen in her body, and excess prolactin. A dry vagina becomes really hard to penetrate mostly because of the increased friction, which may cause severe pain to the woman who has a dry vagina during sex.
A water-based lubricant is thin and allows better penetration by moisturizing the vagina and reducing friction. This method is cost-effective and requires minimal from both the sides and results in a happier episode of sex, which is why many couples have practiced this after the birth of their child to reduce the pain for a woman.
Put your sleep first:
It is extremely necessary for a woman to prioritize her sleep and put herself first. She must realize that her physical and mental health is more important than anything else. Only when a woman is sane will she be able to take care of herself, her newborn, and her family.
After delivery, all the hormones and strength in a woman are disheveled, and the best way our to rest, and rest a lot. The only thing that will speed up the recovery process and heal the body is a good rest, both mentally and physically. Therefore, a good night’s sleep plays a vital role in this. A woman should be able to sleep whenever she can.
She may also seek help from her partner and her family to take care of the newborn, and allow her to take a good nap while the baby has been taken care of. When she knows that her baby is going to fine, she will be able to sleep better, knowing that her baby is safe.
This, of course, requires cooperation and support from the partner and her family members. And when a woman is in a good mood and has had sufficient rest, her sex drive will improve automatically.
Nothing helps better than a steaming bath that helps get rid of all tension in the muscles and helps in elevating mood by releasing the happy hormones. A hot bath is proven to provide relief to the muscles, and because the sore abdominal and pelvic muscles are tender and spasmodic, the hot bath will put these muscles at ease and bring comfort to the woman, this way, she will be able to enjoy her sex better also because a good bath will maintain her hygiene, and put her in a good mood.
Try new positions:
A simple way out is that if sex hurts in one way, then do not do it that and try another position. And, fortunately, it helps. Maybe the old methods through which a couple is having sex make a painful for the woman to bear it. But if a couple goes on to look for new and creative methods, then there are high chances that it will help ease the pain and make sex even more pleasurable for the couple.
Speak with a therapist:
A woman has a lot going on in her mind when she goes through the period of her pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum. It is proven to have done wonders when a woman seeks the help of a therapist, and talks to them about her condition, and what she feels like.
There are therapists who specialize in postpartum mental health, and there is no one better to understand a woman who is trying to adjust in her new life with an addition to her family. Also, postpartum blues is a real thing, and therapists can help women deal with it in a better way.
Once a woman lets out the burden on her chest, she feels much better than before. A therapy session can help a woman look at the brighter side of the story, and a therapist will help her deal with her situation better. There is no shame in seeking help to bring mental peace to oneself. Think of it as a medicine that will improve the condition and add better days to life.
Consult a doctor:
If anything does go wrong, then a woman must speak to her doctor about her issues. It is imperative that she discusses every problem that she is facing and tell her doctor about this, and do not shy away or feel embarrassed because it includes her sex life. A doctor will provide the best medical advice, and they will help in detecting a problem if there is any.
A doctor will check for infections, and prescribe antibiotics, or they will look for any other pathology that may be causing pain during sex for a woman.
So, leaving an issue stranded because it is a stigma or embarrassing is not the way out, and seeking help from a doctor will get things solved for a woman and her sex life.
Herbs and acupuncture:
A soothing way to help a woman overcome pin while having sexual intercourse is acupuncture and herbs. The Chinese method of bringing good energy to mind and body has a realistic effect on a person. A woman can get her acupuncture done to get the positive energy flowing through her body and keep the tiredness and negative energy at bay.
Similarly, herbs do wonder for the body. Taking herbs that are safe while a woman is breastfeeding is a very organic way to regaining the strength in her body. Natural herbs have the least side effect and can elevate mood, which will help a woman in having better sex.
Muscles need exercising to keep them fit, and physical therapy can help muscles become more rigid and less spasmodic. A very common exercise that is recommended to women to strengthen the muscles floor is the Kegel exercise.
This exercise not only makes the muscles strong but also helps with other problems that come with a weak pelvic floor such as urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse. Performing Kegel exercises daily will help a woman to stay active while making her pelvic floor stronger.
Take things slowly:
It is important for a woman to understand the condition she is in, and it is not advisable for her to put her body to the test by promptly going back to having a sexual life right after her baby is born. There is time for everything, and it is best for her to take things slow for her own betterment.
Going for aggressive sex after birth is not a good idea. A woman should start having sex a least when six weeks have passed since she gave birth. Even after six weeks, she should consider how much her body has healed, or how well it is healing to avoid weakening the body even more.
Furthermore, there are plenty of other options than just sex, and a couple knows this. A woman must look at herself first and explain to her partner what she is going through and that having sex at such a point is not advisable while they can always have foreplay, and cuddle with one another to have a better time together.