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Sex After Childbirth

Topic Overview

For a while after childbirth, don't be surprised if you have little interest in sex. Physical recovery, exhaustion, and hormonal changes often affect sexuality after childbirth. Each woman's experience is different.

Together, you and your partner can connect emotionally and physically by knowing ahead of time what is normal and why.

  • Physical recovery. It's important to avoid sexual intercourse until you have stopped bleeding and intercourse is not painful or uncomfortable. Your body needs time to heal after childbirth. This can take about 4 to 6 weeks, but it's different for each woman.
  • Lack of energy. Exhaustion, your baby's demands, and recovery from childbirth may make sex less important to you. You will have more energy when you become used to having a new baby and are healed, more rested, and settled in a routine.
  • Hormonal changes. Until your menstrual cycle starts up again, your estrogen is low and vaginal dryness may be a problem. High prolactin levels while breast-feeding also play a part in vaginal dryness. If you have this problem, use a vaginal lubricant to provide moisture.
  • Breast-feeding. Newborns need to breast-feed often. This not only takes up your time and energy, but it can lead to sore breasts. But this does not last long. You and your baby will settle into a feeding routine, feedings will become further apart, and your breasts will adjust. As the healing and feeding demands on your body become less, you will feel more interest in sex again.

Talk with your partner about your feelings, concerns, and expectations. Let your partner know that as you recover from childbirth, you need extra support. Ask your partner to tell you about any needs and concerns too.

Try to set up times when you can be alone, unrushed, and uninterrupted.

Rest whenever possible.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as of June 4, 2014

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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