I will not beat around the bush, painful sex postpartum is real and is rough. We as women have birthed a child; whether Cesarean or natural it takes a toll on our bodies, and our minds, not to forget that our emotions are a mess.
We have just become mothers and now our priorities have shifted and so have our mindset. It’s not made up, it’s biology.
Our bodies are tuned to our babies for their survival, it’s instinct.
Types of Vaginal Tearing
A little background information, when I gave birth, I had a second-degree tear. Which is a happy medium between no stitches and a whole bunch of stitches… Ten to be exact, ouch, I know.
As per What To Expect :
First-degree tears are where only the skin is torn.
Second-degree tears are when the skin and vaginal muscles are torn and are the most common types of tears.
Third and Fourth-degree tears are the most severe. They extend through the anal sphincter and into the rectum
Healing Time Frame For Vagina and Perianal Tears
The healing process of a tear varies depending on the degree.
For First- Degree it can take up to ten days but the area will be tender for up to 8 weeks.
Second-Degree, about two months but in my case it was a whole 9 months to feel even remotely back to normal.
A Third-Degree and Fourth-Degree will take about three months if not more.
Reason Behind Painful Sex Postpartum
The pain began to lessen and by week 10 to 11 I could sit and move around painlessly but I tried to have sex and MY OH MY, postpartum sex was awful.
Between having my mind on my almost three-month-old and the fear and lack of lubrication, I know TMI, it sucked!
Not only did we not continue but I was ashamed of myself and my body. I know it is not my fault but sex is more than sex. At least for me and my husband. In this time we come together as a couple and as two humans who choose each other over anyone else.
My feelings towards myself were new, no one I had spoken to shared this with me. I even asked some of my mom-friends and nothing. I felt so alone. Even the doctor said it was normal and didn’t offer anything to help.
So I knew I wasn’t the problem. Society and the Medical Community is. But don’t worry, this mom is gonna share every detail with you. Because you deserve to feel better and most importantly, you deserve pain-free sex.
I’ll start by sharing my experience and the various things I tried and what worked.
Some of this information will be backed up by science 😉
Around 9 weeks postpartum after my OB/GYN post-birth check-up, I was told I needed another three to four weeks of healing. I just thought I was taking longer to heal and tried doing some research on pain during sex and the ‘normal’ period for healing from a second-degree tear.
And yeah! You guessed it, nothing came up.
So because I live in the US and we’re on one income household, I do not qualify for free healthcare and cannot afford health insurance. Therefore I couldn’t visit the doctor later on so I just tried my best to deal with my situation.
Massage Your Bits
As I continued my research I did find out the vaginal muscles sometimes seize up as they heal from trauma or a tear. The recommendation was to massage the area inside and outside.
After weeks of massage, the pain did lessen but only slightly.
Sidenote: You may also develop scar tissue which can be very uncomfortable and painful. Estrogen cream can lessen the pain so you may want to talk to you, healthcare provider.
Completely unrelated to painful sex postpartum but very informational; I found out about the notorious Madge the Vag. The mom who talks about all things vagina. She gave me a schooling on how our bodies react during sex!
So let’s start with the basics. We all as in women, we know instinctively that we need lubrication. Unfortunately, our bodies are lacking at the moment and if you’re lactating like I am then even more so.
This happens because when you’re breastfeeding your body produces less estrogen.
Related: Breastfeeding: What Is Breastmilk?
According to Kimberly Holland estrogen is a key hormone for arousal and natural vaginal lubrication. With the low levels of the hormone, you may find that getting turned on takes longer and your vagina is too dry for comfortable penetration during intercourse.
That leads me to my next point, lubricant. When using lubricant consider water-based or coconut oil (per my personal experience). Water-based lube is not quite as smooth and gentle.
Disclaimer: Coconut oil is antibacterial and anti-fungal which may lead to yeast infections as it changes your pH balance. It is also not safe with condoms as it can take away their effectiveness.
Now let’s not forget about one of the most important reasons why you feel painful sex postpartum, foreplay.
I mean, at this point we barely remember to brush our teeth before bed, right?
Having a baby is tough stuff, we are introduced to a new way of life. In charge of raising a little human who depends on us for everything. Our bodies are in tune with their needs more than our own.
I remember the first few attempts at an intimate encounter with my husband, I was straining my hearing. Ready to stop and rush to my daughter when she cried.
I wasn’t in the moment, which is one of the main reasons for that painful sensation.
So why foreplay?
Foreplay is the most important because it serves as emotional and physical bonding time as well as promotes your relationship with your partner.
At this crucial time where you don’t know where you stand; mother, wife, partner, woman or human. It is important to nurture your relationship not only with your significant other but with yourself.
Sex should be pleasurable and pain-free! Foreplay leads to arousal and arousal leads to painless sex.
Now, foreplay not only works great for connection and bonding but lubrication. It helps your body get ready for sex, therefore triggering another event.
Fact: Sexual arousal causes your vagina to lengthen and your cervix and uterus lift, leaving enough room for a great romp.
But when you skip it and ‘pass and go’ it leads to painful sex.
This has become a must-do and now 10 months postpartum nothing happens without foreplay. It is the law! Since then my intimate life has been better and better.
So to wrap it up, these are the steps to pain-free sex postpartum:
Step #1: Massage Your Bits
Increases blood flow and reduces the muscles and tissues from seizing.
Step #2: Lubricant
Lubrication will help if you’re breastfeeding as the lack of estrogen production will make it hard to naturally self lubricant.
Step #3: Foreplay EVERY time
Foreplay is the key to heaven, our heaven. It relaxed you and gets you in the mood and prepares your body for intimacy.
Step #4: Take your time, there are other ways to get off!
Do not rush your healing process. Everyone is different, it took me almost ten months to pain-free sex. So understand that it can take longer than the average time but if you follow the previously mentioned steps, I guarantee you success.
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