Is it normal to experience painful intercourse after childbirth?

Many women experience painful intercourse, or ‘dyspareunia’ at some point in their lives, and one of the most common is following childbirth but it is not normal. 

‘How soon after having a baby’ is something that women’s health physiotherapists, midwives, GP's  hear a lot. The truth is there, that while many will suggest waiting until 4-6 weeks after delivery, there is no hard-and-fast rule. One thing you do have to bear in mind though, is that just because you have recently given birth, doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant again. In fact, you can conceive again as soon as 3 weeks after a birth, so it’s vital to ensure that your contraception is up to date.

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If there’s no rule, how do you know when you can have intercourse?

The most important thing is to listen to your body. In all likelihood you will be too tired in the days and weeks following the birth of your new baby to even think about intercourse. It could even be quite some time before you feel ready, so don’t be scared to communicate this to your partner. There is no reason why you can’t carry on being loving and affectionate in other ways in the meantime. When you do feel ready, follow these tips to ensure it’s a pleasurable experience and minimis the chance of experiencing dyspareunia.

 

Stop if you feel pain

Pain is your biggest indicator that your body isn’t ready for intercourse yet. If you feel any pain at all during penetration, don’t force yourself to continue. Being intimate with your partner should be a pleasurable experience, and it won’t be if you are sore. 

Take things slowly

Your hormones lead to a whole host of changes after birth- one of them being that you will possibly experience more vaginal dryness than usual. Now is not the time for acrobatics, but the time for taking things slowly and easing back into it gently. Try to use a water based lube. 

 

Make time for your partner outside of the bedroom

Dyspareunia can sometimes be caused by mental anxiety as well as resulting from physical factors. Make sure you spend time with your partner in general, which will keep you focused on each other and more in the mood for physical intimacy. It can be tricky when you have a new baby to allocate time to each other but looking after yourselves too is just as important.

Don’t be scared to ask for help

This is the most important thing of all to remember. While you might not have experienced painful intercourse before, you are certainly not the first person to go through it.  Don’t be scared to seek professional help. A women’s health physiotherapist can make sure everything is ok, give you advice to speed up the healing process and get you feeling back to your old self as quickly as possible.

For further information or advice about how to manage painful intercourse following childbirth please get in touch.