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30th Mar 2018

Post-birth sex: 10 important things to remember in those early months

Our resident sexual health guru advises

Aisling Loy

Dr Aisling Loy is a sexual health specialist and medical director at Himerus Health. Here she answers all the awkward questions about sex after having a baby.

After the birth of your child, the last thing most women are thinking about is transforming back into the sex kitten they once were.

Often women feel this aspect of their lives has been neglected and they want things to return to ‘normal’ as soon as possible, but ‘normal’ is not what it once was. The extra pounds, the episiotomy scars, tender leaky breasts, haemorrhoids and new stretch marks can make you feel mother nature is conspiring to ensure a sibling doesn’t arrive anytime soon.

Sex post birth is not something many women talk about. Whilst we are happy to exchange tips on feeding, sleep training and colic, not many chat about what’s happening down below with friends or even partners.

Likewise, most partners can feel a bit rejected. And if they aren’t aware that low libido and vaginal dryness is all part of the joyous pregnancy/breastfeeding hormonal package, they may feel a tad undesired.

What happens at your six-week check-up?

At your six-week post partum check-up your health care provider (HCP) will ask if you have tried sex yet, and if there are any issues about contraception. However, most women wait at least 4 – 6 weeks post birth before having intercourse, waiting for the go-ahead from their HCP.

So often these questions are redundant at this visit and the topic is never broached again. For many more women it can take months and sometimes over a year to feel interested in having sex again, every woman’s body responds differently to the amazing feat it just performed.

Hormonal changes brought about by pregnancy and extended by breastfeeding can lead to many symptoms that women may not realise are normal post partum. Dryness and irritation in the vagina can remain until several months after breastfeeding has stopped.

These hormonal changes may also lead to alterations in vaginal discharge, increasing amounts, changes in colour and odour. Some of these changes are due to bacterial vaginosis or candidiasis and are easily treated once diagnosed. It is important to seek medical advice if any of these changes occur.

10 things to remember:

1. Realise that everyone is different. For some, it’s normal not to want sex whilst some women find the post baby glow makes them feel more desirable and lustful than ever.

2. Communicate with your partner. Explain if you don’t feel ready for sex yet and reassure them things will improve with time.

3. Start slowly; kissing, hugging, touching and things will progress naturally.

4. Use lots of good quality water-based lubricant.

5. Be aware of the need for contraception (if you’re not trying to conceive again that is). Even if you are breastfeeding and your periods haven’t returned you may still conceive.

6. Don’t use harsh soaps or douches on the vagina for washing, emulsifying ointment is much less likely to cause pH upset and irritation.

7. Keep doing pelvic floor exercises, even if you had a C-Section, the pelvic floor muscles are weakened post birth.

8. Sometimes baby blues or post-natal depression can cause a low sex drive so be mindful of this as a possibility and talk to your doctor if you think it is.

9. If you experience any pain, discomfort or discharge see a doctor.

10. Relax and realise over time your body will return to wanting and enjoying sex.

Check out himerushealth for more.