Updated: Feb 18
Hello friends! So you just had your six week postpartum checkup and your provider has cleared you to return to penetrative sex, yay! You might get a few hours alone with your significant other and are ready to make the magic happen again! It’s been stressful since the baby came and you’re ready to reconnect with your partner intimately. But it's not the same--you’re in pain or sex just isn’t feeling the way it used to.
Sound familiar? You are not alone. Some research has shown that up to 60% of women have pain with sex at 3 months postpartum. There are so many different reasons sex may not be the same, but it’s a sign that things aren’t working the way they were designed to. It may be dysfunction of your pelvic floor muscles, scarring (like from a c-section, episiotomy, or perineal tearing), or possibly a nerve injury during delivery.
The good news is: these problems can be addressed to help you return to PAIN-FREE and ENJOYABLE sex after that precious baby of yours enters this world. You may also be nervous about returning to sex postpartum and that’s okay.
If you are blessed with the ability to return to sex without any issues, we are so happy for you! But keep this information in the back of your head, just in case you experience any difficulty after another baby and delivery.
Today we’re going to talk about a few ways to make sex postpartum enjoyable! To learn even more, check out our new book Sex After Baby: How to Resume Intimacy with Confidence and Ease. Keep in mind that we are not your physical therapists and you should get clearance from your provider before participating in sex postpartum.
In general, you can resume orgasms (without vaginal penetration) after baby as soon as you feel comfortable (unless your birth provider instructs you otherwise). It is very common for your provider to recommend waiting until at least 6 weeks after birth to resume vaginal penetration during sex.
Regardless of whether or not you are having penetrative sex, one of the most important things to do is communicate with your partner! Let them know what feels good and what doesn’t. A great way to start is to allow your partner to explore touching and massaging your external anatomy. If you find areas that aren’t comfortable (like along a perineal tear or episiotomy scar) you may want to try perineal massage and stretching before having penetrative sex. (To learn more about perineal massage, check out our blog post.)
Along with perineal stretching, you can also perform deep breathing exercises and pelvic floor stretches to help calm your nervous system. Being relaxed plays a big role in being able to enjoy intimacy.
As with relaxation, lubrication is very important for pain-free sex. Lubricants help to avoid friction between your perineum and vaginal walls and whatever may be penetrating them (a penis, finger, toy, etc.) You can learn all about the different types of lubricants in our postpartum course, but you can find some of our favorites here in our Amazon Store.
Once it’s time to attempt vaginal penetration, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Positioning can make a difference! Each position has pluses and minuses, but only you and your partner can decide what’s best for you. With you on top, you will be able to control the depth and amount of penetration which can be a great place to start.
Practice opening your vagina (by relaxing the pelvic floor muscles) before and during initial penetration. This will allow for smooth entry into the vaginal canal.
As long as you aren’t having any pelvic pain, try performing pelvic floor muscle contractions (Kegels) during intercourse. Tip: this can help to increase the sensation and pleasure for both you and your partner!
Lastly, we highly recommend you see a pelvic floor PT postpartum! A pelvic floor PT can help you to address any pelvic floor issues you may be having postpartum and they can help you to prevent any problems from arising in the future!
Ready to enjoy sex again? Here are some great resources to get you started:
Take our Postpartum Pain with Sex course for just $39!
Ask your healthcare provider for a referral to a pelvic therapist.
Find a pelvic therapist on your own at myPFM.com. We have links to 4 free searchable databases under Find a PT.
Learn more about the pelvic floor muscles with our book: My Pelvic Floor Muscles The Basics: Learn where the pelvic floor muscles are, what they do, and how they work
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Visit our Instagram page for more on pelvic health.
Watch this to learn about your pelvic floor.
If you are a provider and want to learn more to help your pregnant and postpartum patients, check one of our many courses here to help you learn and grow your practice.
Or, consider joining our Ambassador Program and most of our courses are included with your membership!
What experiences or tips do you have that can help others? We’d love to hear them. Please join the conversation in the comments section below.
Written by Emily Reul, PT, DPT