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Experts advice: Sex after childbirth, how to be safe and you.

Relationship / Jun 01, 2022 / Vetted by Dr. Sandip Gupta, MBBS, MD, FNB-PICU
Contraceptives for resuming sex after childbirth
New parents often find it difficult and stressful to get intimate or have sex after childbirth. All their time and energy goes into taking care of their little one. Hormonal changes, contraception worries, and less personal time can contribute to a decreased interest in sex. It might seem that you and your partner have lost interest in sex, but be patient, things will get back on track with time.  

When is it safe to have sex? How can I resume my sex life?

Your body will take time to recover after delivery. You may have vaginal stitches, bleeding, and your vagina may feel sore after birth. Your vagina will be back to normal within 6 to 12 weeks of your baby’s birth with proper precautions and care. There is no fixed duration for when you can start having sex; it depends on how comfortable and ready you are emotionally and physically. You should wait until the vaginal bleeding stops, which may take a few weeks after your normal or cesarean (C-section) delivery. But remember that everyone does not recover at the same time. If you have had a C-section delivery, mild activities like taking short walks can help you heal faster. 

After giving your body enough time to heal, you can resume your sex life but take it slowly. Begin with intimate activities such as cuddling and kissing. If penetration is painful because of dryness, use a water-based lubricant to ease the dryness. Try to find comfortable positions such that they do not put much pressure on sore areas. If you have any fears, discuss them with your partner before being sexually active so that you feel less anxious.  

Will breastfeeding affect my sex life?

Breastfeeding your baby can impact your sex life by:
  • Reducing sex drive: Some women experience pain while having sex after childbirth, mostly due to vaginal dryness. This can get worse in women who are breastfeeding since they have a lower level of oestrogen (a female sex hormone). Lowered progesterone (a female hormone that regulates the menstrual cycle) after delivery can also decrease sex drive.
  • Your body releases the same hormone, oxytocin (the love hormone), while breastfeeding and when you have an orgasm. Therefore, your need for sex may not be the same as earlier.
  • You may release milk from your breasts while having sex. This is completely normal since the oxytocin is released while having sex as while breastfeeding.
  • Your nipples and breasts are not as sensitive as before. You might not feel much sexual pleasure because your nipples are too painful to enjoy.  

Contraception after birth.

You may not want to conceive just after having a baby. However, you can get pregnant three weeks after having your baby, even if you have not had your period or are breastfeeding. So, it is advisable to think about contraception (birth control) before having sex. Talk to your doctor about methods of birth control and the suitability of each as per your preferences and breastfeeding status. Your choice may include:
  • Female or male condoms
  • Cap or diaphragm: This is preferable after your cervix (lower part of the womb) and vagina are fully recovered.
  • A progesterone-only pill, implant, or injection: The pill can be used immediately after birth, but implants should be fitted 21 days after delivery. Injections can be given six weeks after birth.
  • Hormonal intrauterine system: It can be fitted a month after giving birth.
  • Intrauterine devices: These can be placed within 48 hours or four weeks after delivery.
  • Combined contraceptive pill or vaginal ring: This is not recommended if you are breastfeeding since it may cause a reduction in milk supply.
  • Lactational amenorrhea method: This is a natural contraception method of exclusively breastfeeding to avoid pregnancy. This might not be effective fully if your periods have returned, your baby is older than six months, you breastfeed less often, or give outside milk. 

Women tend to assume that once their body has recovered from childbirth, they will be able to return to their sex life. However, baby duties, fatigue, and insecurity about the postpartum body are some of the limiting factors that hold you back from bouncing back into sex life. Take some time and talk to your partner about how you feel and how ready you are to get intimate.

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