Postpartum Sex & How It Affects Orgasms
August 17, 2022
It may seem like after having a kid, every part of your life as you know changes. Sure, incubating and giving birth to a little human does a number on your sleep routine, body, and emotions, but have you ever considered how it can affect your sex life, or more specifically, your ability to orgasm?
Well, the short (and most straightforward) answer is that eventually, it’s often a lot like sex before giving birth!
Remember that the human body is designed for pregnancy, but also for recovery; nature wants you to have as many children as possible. Nevertheless, pregnancy (and birth) may be quite taxing on the body, so it’s fair that it may take some time to bounce back.
Doctors generally recommend waiting six weeks following vaginal delivery to have sex to heal lacerations and episiotomies (incisions made between the vagina and anus to help delivery).
C-sections are also considered “major abdominal surgery,” so doctors usually recommend waiting six to eight weeks before getting back at it.
However, regardless of the type of delivery you had, there may be undetected complications such as trauma to underlying tissue, even though everything on the surface appears to recover rapidly.
This explains why they strongly suggest waiting the recommended time, even though patients often start having sex again sooner.
But what happens if (as many have done before) you partake in the horizontal fandango before then?
Potentially nothing. But, because your cervix is still extra-dilated after giving birth, you could possibly reopen healing wounds or, in rare situations, develop an infection since intercourse increases the likelihood of bacteria coming into contact with your uterus.
Now, although we’ve painted a rather grim picture, and you may think that your postpartum sex life will be scarred forever, it’s important to note that many people report having MORE OR BETTER orgasms after birth.
And while some may experience issues such as painful orgasms or sex, they can typically regain their sexual abilities with the support of a healthcare specialist such as a pelvic floor physical therapist.
The key here is not to become dismayed—you’re not alone!
Below, we explore the possible ways your sex life may change after delivery and the steps you can take if you’re bothered by them.
1. Your vagina may not feel as tight as it did previously (but not to an extreme!)
OK, don’t freak out. This is quite normal. If it happens to you, it shouldn’t hinder your sex life. Vaginal tightness may not return to its pre-delivery state after a baby has passed through the birth canal.
It may feel a bit different from both your and your partner’s sides, but it won’t affect your ability to enjoy sex thoroughly.
Strengthen your pelvic floor muscles with Kegels. Like any other type of exercise, the more Kegels you do, the greater the benefits. Momenta is a set of Kegel balls that doubles as a sex toy you can use with a partner. Whether using them for pelvic floor exercise or as a sex toy (or both), simply insert them into your vagina and experience the sensual combination of vibrations and rattling, blended for harmonious strength and stimulation.
A quick disclaimer though…if you feel like something’s up and your vagina feels vastly different compared to pre-pregnancy, consult your doctor to check for any abnormalities.
2. You may pee slightly during sex
The pelvic floor, which supports your uterus, rectum, and bladder, weakens during pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association, this happens primarily because your uterus swells to the size of a watermelon during the third trimester.
Whether you deliver vaginally or by C-section, it can be challenging to manage your urine afterward. However, vaginal delivery might aggravate the situation. You may experience leakage when you sneeze, cough, or have sex.
Again, doing Kegel exercises during pregnancy and after childbirth can reduce the probability of this happening (but don’t worry, your muscles usually become stronger with time and reduce the likelihood of this!)
3. If you’re breastfeeding, you may notice a reduction in lubrication.
You can thank your hormones for this one. While nursing, your estrogen levels are decreased, and estrogen is one of the primary contributors to vaginal lubrication.
This will not necessarily make sex uncomfortable, but it may cause an irritating dryness that reduces your pleasure. Keep lubrication on hand to avoid this problem.
4. You could bleed during intercourse
If you’ve given birth vaginally, you could have some bleeding the first few times you become sexually active.
The blood may be disconcerting, but it generally occurs as a result of your sensitive cervix experiencing heightened uterine activity (having an orgasm produces oxytocin, which can cause your uterus to contract). If you notice anything other than minimal bleeding, consult your doctor to confirm that your recovery is going as planned.
5. You may be worried about having sex (fyi, this is entirely natural!)
When it comes to emotions and feelings post-birth, any mother will tell you that that rollercoaster is one hell of a ride. So, while every emotion and feeling is completely valid, having mixed feelings about sex post-delivery is completely understandable.
When it comes to having sex again, your emotions may fall into every part of the emotional spectrum. Some individuals are overwhelmed by the prospect, while others are more eager than ever before having a baby.
While apprehension is generally the norm, if a woman feels entirely put off, uninterested in, or irritated by having sex after childbirth when she previously didn’t, this could indicate postpartum depression.
6. Breastfeeding may trigger sexual pleasure (and even orgasm!)
Although this fact may seem utterly bizarre, physiologically, it makes sense. Our body produces oxytocin when we have an orgasm. This is the same hormone released during breastfeeding and can cause the uterus to contract and potentially result in an orgasm.
Also, if nipple stimulation is enjoyable for you, you may find breastfeeding pleasurable (oxytocin in itself increases pleasure!) This is common and natural and does not indicate anything is wrong with you or your child.
7. Your boobs may leak milk when you orgasm
To add to what we’ve covered above, when you have sex, the flood of hormones like oxytocin can result in a milky surprise when you orgasm. Again, this is completely normal, and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about!
8. Psychological or relationship changes may have an impact on your sexual life.
Parenthood can cause many psychological and relational changes, which can impact people’s sex life in various ways. People may feel more attached to their relationships after delivery. Sometimes just being away from a demanding job is enough to decompress (not that raising a baby is any easier!)
Childbirth can also have a negative impact on your sexual mentality or relationship if the delivery was traumatic, you’re suffering from postpartum depression or other mental health concerns, you’re too tired for sex, or parenting is causing tension with your partner.
If someone finds themselves dealing with concerns like these, they may benefit from the help of a psychotherapist or sex therapist.
9. Sex after childbirth may be better than you think
Many people enjoy sex more after birth than before they had children! Sometimes, giving birth awakens us to a spectrum of sensations, and as a result, our bodies, particularly our genitals, become more sensitive, enhancing our pleasure potential.
Childbirth can also reposition our internal organs, making them more receptive to stimulation. Many women become more comfortable with their bodies and have more intense orgasms after having children.
10. Your orgasm may actually feel stronger for a time
While science has yet to explain why this is the case, a few theories are floating about. One idea is that after birth, the nerves that supply feeling to the pelvis are traumatized. Women often report feeling less [in that area] in the first week or two after giving birth.
However, once those nerves heal, they may become hypersensitive…resulting in orgasms of supernova proportions. Although orgasm intensity usually goes back to pre-birth strength, this is still pretty rad!
Take it slow. You’re not alone.
Let’s face it, nothing lasts forever, and the postpartum phase will eventually fade into memory. But while you’re in it, experience it fully and go with the flow.
Allow yourself time to recover and adjust to your new role. You’ll want to have sex again, just as you want to sleep, go out with friends, and even think about giving birth again.
Be honest and upfront with your partner, and remember that sometimes you just won’t be in the mood—there’s nothing wrong with you!
Lastly (and perhaps most importantly), if you find that you’re not where you’d like to be and your sex life isn’t back to normal, don’t give up!
You are not alone! Many other individuals are going through the same thing you are. And millions of people have gotten through it, are better, and have happy and healthy sex lives.