As women, let’s get this out in the open: Having a baby changes your body and your relationship with your significant other, both for worse and for better. Birthing a child is beautiful, but it doesn’t come without challenges. Two of those challenges that may occur after childbirth are uncomfortable postpartum sex and vaginal dryness.
The Truth About Having Sex After a Baby
For women, attraction begins in the mind, and the body follows (01). The post-childbirth environment, which consists of burp cloths and night feedings, isn’t ideal for sparking the flames of sexual desire. Fatigue and stress are two factors that can dampen libido. The fluctuating hormones after childbirth can also cause mental concerns such as mood changes, irritability, and postpartum depression – which may affect the post-partum sex life negatively.
Keep in mind that a woman’s body remains in a state of healing in the weeks (or months) after childbirth. Whether a woman gives birth vaginally or through a c-section, both require a significant amount of healing throughout the body. Moreover, changes during pregnancy can leave a woman feeling unfamiliar or less confident with her post-baby body – making her more hesitant to have sex.
10 Facts About Post-Baby Sex and Vaginal Dryness
If you’ve just given birth – or expect to do so someday – the following are 10 truths you should know about post-baby sex and vaginal dryness.
1 It’s Okay to Wait
One study showed that approximately 83 percent of women experienced sexual problems in the first 3 months after having a baby. At six months, 64% of women continued to have issues. . So, if you’re post-baby sex life is in a drought, you’re not alone. It’s common. It may take longer for the libido to return to pre-baby levels for women who breastfeed because estrogen levels remain low while breastfeeding. (02)
2 Post-Delivery Changes Affecting Sex are Common
The birthing process, pregnancy changes, hormones, and the post-partum environment can lead to the following common postpartum changes:
- Thinning of vaginal tissue
- Reduces vaginal elasticity
- Vaginal dryness
- Pain during sex
- Reduced libido
- “Loose” muscles
- Episiotomy or perineal tear
Most women need to take time to recover from any postpartum conditions that get in the way of sexual activity.
3 Having Your Partner In the Delivery Room is a Good Thing
Studies show that women whose partners were present in the delivery room reported stronger sexual intimacy with their partners after giving birth. Contrary to popular belief, being in the delivery room together strengthens - not weakens - the sexual bonds of a couple. So go ahead and share that special moment in the delivery room! (03)
4 Hormones Can Impact Sexual Desire and Vaginal Dryness
Hormones play a significant role in post-delivery recovery and a return to regular sexual activity. In the days immediately following childbirth, estrogen drops to pre-pregnancy levels. If breastfeeding, estrogen levels might sink below pre-pregnancy levels. Estrogen helps supply natural vaginal lubrication, so low levels of the hormone increase the likelihood of vaginal dryness.
Estrogen is crucial for sexual arousal because it encourages blood flow to the genitals and boosts lubrication. However, estrogen also gets in the way of milk production. After giving birth, hormones like estrogen may remain in flux, leading to symptoms like low sexual desire, vaginal dryness, and hot flashes.
5 You Can Manage Vaginal Dryness
Breastfeeding drops estrogen levels, which your body needs to create vaginal lubrication. Fortunately, vaginal dryness doesn’t mean postpartum sex is out of the question. A quality lubricant makes sex more pleasurable in the months after childbirth and even reduces the anxiety around resuming sexual activities. Many women continue to use vaginal lubrication even after their estrogen returns to baseline, simply because lubrication takes intimacy up a notch!
6 Perineal Tear or Episiotomy? You’re At a Higher Risk of Infection
A perineal tear or episiotomy is common during vaginal birth, but it can increase the risk of infection if you have sex too soon after giving birth. The area can remain sensitive while it heals, and for some time afterward. Wait for a doctor’s green light to resume having sex; otherwise, an infection could prolong the healing process.
7 A C-Section Can Also Affect Vaginal Sensation
Some women believe having a cesarean delivery avoids vaginal complications after giving birth. The truth is that the hormonal changes which influence vaginal sensation after a vaginal birth also occur with a c-section. (04) The sudden drop in estrogen leads to dry vaginal tissue and thinner skin, resulting in less satisfactory sex. So women should have lubrication on hand after birth, even with a cesarean delivery.
8 You Can Still Get Pregnant During the Postpartum Period
It’s important to remember how quickly a woman can get pregnant after giving birth. One study found that women who do not breastfeed may experience their first ovulation as early as six weeks postpartum. (05)
In contrast, breastfeeding may serve as a “natural” contraceptive, with an effective rate as high as 98 percent, in women who:
- Exclusively breastfeed their child.
- Are six months or less postpartum.
- Have not started to menstruate.
For breastfeeding to be an effective contraceptive,, however, women must meet these narrow criteria. Therefore, women who do not want to become pregnant should also practice a reliable birth control method. (06)
9 Irregular Bleeding is Common in the Early Postpartum Phase
In the weeks after having a baby, you may still bleed periodically. Why? Because as the uterus heals and contracts back down to normal size, bleeding may occur. Furthermore, the vaginal walls are drier and thinner after giving birth, increasing the risk of small tears or injuries. Consult a doctor if bleeding continues six weeks after delivery.
10 You’re Ready to Have Sex When You Feel Ready
Doctors typically recommend waiting 6 weeks to resume sexual activity. It is important for a woman to consider when she is ready to have sex. Communicate with your doctor and partner regarding your level of comfort surrounding sex. Share your concerns and discuss ways to improve the experience, such as using a lubricant to ease dryness and increase comfort.
Bringing Sexy Back
There is nothing wrong with needing time to heal, both physically and mentally, from childbirth. What’s more, problems that arise regarding postpartum sex and vaginal dryness are typically either temporary or manageable.
While you wait for your post-baby body to readjust, consider using Playground’s collection of personal lubricants. Try Mini Escape for a scented, smooth experience. Our Love Sesh formula gives you scent-free lubrication along with luxurious and skin-nourishing vitamin E and hydrating hyaluronic acid. Let Playground help you get back in the sack with our water-based, plant-based, and vegan-friendly formulas.