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How Is Sex Different Postpartum?

by Allyson Augusta Shrikhande, MD, CMO

Pregnancy and childbirth cause a really profound impact on the body, and it’s very common to worry about returning to a normal sex life after having a child. For those who are experiencing pregnancy for the first time, it can be difficult to know what to expect. Some discomfort as the body heals after childbirth is not unusual, but it can be difficult to tell what is normal and what may be cause for alarm. Pain and sexual dysfunction are common among people who have recently given birth, but they are not normal, and they can very often be alleviated through medical treatment.

Here are some of the basics on postpartum rehabilitation and the effect that pregnancy can have on your sex life.

1. What does “postpartum” mean?|

Postpartum is the time period following the delivery of a child. During postpartum, a woman’s body, including her hormonal levels and the size of her uterus, is returning to a pre-pregnancy state.

2. Is it normal to have postpartum pelvic pain? How long?

Postpartum pelvic pain is very common, but should dissipate over time. Any pain which lasts more than six weeks should be reported to and evaluated by a doctor.

3. How is sex different postpartum?

You should wait until after your check-up six weeks following childbirth before you attempt sexual intercourse. Once cleared for intercourse, every person's experience is different, depending on the size of the baby, the delivery itself, your prepartum pelvic floor state, and your hormones. The body has an amazing way of healing after childbirth, and you should be able to return to your baseline level of enjoying intercourse, especially if you undergo a postpartum rehabilitation program to rehabilitate your pelvis after childbirth.

4. Why may there be pain during intercourse postpartum?

Sometimes patients have nerve and/or muscle pain after carrying a baby for nine months and delivering a baby, whether through vaginal birth or C-section. Patients may also have joint pain. This nerve, muscle, and/or joint pain and dysfunction may cause pain during intercourse.

5. When should I contact a physician?

If after six weeks you are not able to return to enjoyable and pain-free intercourse, this is not normal and you should contact a physician.

6. Will I get my sex life back after pregnancy?

Yes! I can not tell you how many patients feel hopeless, or like they are stuck living with pain or discomfort during intercourse. You do not have to live with it! Pelvic floor physical therapy postpartum can help rehabilitate your dysfunctional and painful muscles and nerves. This will ultimately make them less inflamed and healthier. If pelvic floor physical therapy alone is not enough, please come see us a Pelvic Rehabilitation Medicine, where our non-operative MD and DO’s can help you return to a pain free and enjoyable sex life.

Dr. Allyson Shrikhande, a board certified Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialist, is the Chief Medical Officer of Pelvic Rehabilitation Medicine. A leading expert on pelvic health and a respected researcher, author and lecturer, Dr. Shrikhande is a recognized authority on male and female pelvic pain diagnosis and treatment.