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Painful Sex After Childbirth: Top Reasons and How to Find Relief

Welcoming a new life into the world is an extraordinary journey, but it’s not without its challenges, especially when it comes to reclaiming your intimacy. Many women find themselves navigating the turbulent waters of painful sex after childbirth, a common yet often unspoken hurdle in the postpartum period. Let’s delve into why this happens and how you can reclaim the pleasure and connection that sex brings.

What happens to your vagina after childbirth?

Your vagina stretches a lot if you have a natural delivery, but this isn’t the main reason why sex hurts afterward.

You often need additional cuts in case things get complicated, and your vagina can suffer tears and damage during the procedure. These heal naturally and fairly quickly, but having sex a couple of weeks after delivery can still be painful due to these scars.

However, the main change is how your estrogen levels drop and your vagina becomes dry. This is the main reason why sex can be painful even weeks after it should be OK to have sex.

Sex after childbirth

What are the reasons for painful sex after childbirth?

Painful sex after childbirth is a multifaceted issue, with various factors contributing to discomfort and reduced sexual satisfaction. Here’s an expanded look at the six primary reasons that can affect your sexual well-being postpartum.

Husband stitch

This outdated practice involves adding an extra stitch during the repair process after a vaginal delivery, purportedly to tighten the vaginal opening for the benefit of the partner’s sexual pleasure. This unnecessary and medically unsanctioned procedure can lead to discomfort, a sensation of tightness, and pain during intercourse. Women need to be informed and assert their preferences to avoid such outdated interventions.

The result is obvious: your vagina feels smaller, and unless corrected, you’ll have to get used to it even after it recovers.

Standard stitches

After childbirth, particularly if there has been tearing or an episiotomy, stitches are required to facilitate healing. However, the presence of stitches and the resulting scar tissue can lead to sensitivity and tightness in the perineal area. These physical changes can make sexual activity uncomfortable or painful, emphasizing the importance of allowing ample time for healing and gradually resuming sexual activity.

Tearing During Childbirth

Vaginal tears are a common occurrence during childbirth, particularly for first-time mothers or during the delivery of a larger baby. These tears can range from minor, superficial lacerations to more significant ones that affect deeper tissues and muscles. The healing process is crucial and varies depending on the severity of the tear.

Healing and Scar Tissue Formation

After a tear, the body initiates a natural healing process, which involves the formation of scar tissue. While scar tissue is a normal part of healing, its elasticity is different from the original tissue, which can lead to sensations of tightness or discomfort during activities, including sex. The area around the scar may feel less flexible, and the nerves in the region can become more sensitive, contributing to painful sensations during intercourse.

Proper Care for Healing

To aid the healing process and reduce the likelihood of complications, it’s essential to follow postpartum care instructions, which may include keeping the area clean, avoiding certain activities to prevent strain, and monitoring for signs of infection. Healthcare providers often recommend gentle cleansing and the use of soothing topical products to support healing.

Gentle Massaging

Once the initial healing phase has progressed and with the approval of a healthcare provider, gentle massaging of the scarred area can be beneficial. Massage helps to increase blood flow, promote tissue flexibility, and can desensitize the area, reducing pain over time. It’s important to approach this practice with care, using mild pressure and possibly consulting with a pelvic health specialist for guidance.

Gentle Massaging

Importance of Patience

The journey to full recovery varies for each individual, and it’s important to allow the body ample time to heal. Rushing into sexual activity before the body is ready can exacerbate discomfort and prolong the healing process. Open communication with your partner about your comfort levels and any pain experienced during sex is vital for a healthy and enjoyable sexual relationship postpartum.

Resuming Sexual Activity

When you and your healthcare provider determine it’s safe to resume sexual activity, start slowly and gently. If intercourse is painful, it may be necessary to pause and try different positions or activities that are more comfortable. Using a quality lubricant can also alleviate discomfort associated with dryness or friction.


Breastfeeding works a lot like a temporary menopause hormone-wise since it lowers your hormonal levels around your vagina, and while this lowers your sex drive, the main issue is how it increases dryness.

The lack of libido also means your vagina will have trouble lubricating, and lubrication problems lower your libido, so it’s an uncomfortable situation.

Again, this is yet another reason to prioritize using enough water-based lubricant.

Worrying about your baby

Your pelvic floor works in tandem with your emotions and thoughts. If you feel anxious or scared, these muscles will become tense. While they’re like that, your vagina and anus become smaller.

Now that you have a baby, you’ll probably be worried about them coming into the room while you’re intimate with your partner, or you might be expecting the baby to cry from hunger or

Worrying about your baby


The c-section just repeats the repercussions of having stitches; after all, it’s surgery. The scars produced by c-section also need work, and if you don’t do it, it’ll form scar tissue beneath the tears and become uncomfortable.

From bladder and bowel problems to sex, you want to prevent all the issues from these scars. And if you’ve had various c-sections, then you’ll learn why it’s important to treat it.

What can you do to make sex after childbirth less painful?

While it might sound like a bad idea to have sex with all these issues, there’s no reason to forget about your intimacy.

Be patient

The most important way to keep away the reasons for painful sex after childbirth is to take things slowly. You want to wait for your body to heal before doing anything, and even then, you should always go slow and keep an eye out for any discomfort.

Use your pain relievers before the act

You’re probably taking pain medication to deal with pain post-delivery. Well, you might want to schedule these medicines along with your intimacy time. Another good idea is to use warm baths or ice if you aren’t taking drugs.

Experimenting with New Positions

After childbirth, your body undergoes numerous changes, and what was once a comfortable and enjoyable sexual position might not feel the same postpartum. This is a time to experiment with different positions to find what works best for you now. Each position offers a unique angle and level of penetration, which can significantly affect comfort levels.

sex after childbirth

Communication and Collaboration

Engaging in open and honest communication with your partner is crucial when trying new positions. It’s a collaborative effort where both partners should feel comfortable expressing their preferences and any discomfort. Feedback during and after trying a new position is essential to determine what works best for both of you.

Gentle Exploration


Start with gentle and slow movements when trying a new position. This approach allows you to be mindful of how your body feels and to stop or adjust if something isn’t comfortable. Remember, the goal is to find positions that enhance intimacy without causing pain.

Supportive Props

Consider using pillows or cushions for support in certain positions. For instance, placing a pillow under your hips in the missionary position can reduce the depth of penetration, which might be beneficial if deep thrusting is uncomfortable. Props can also help in finding angles that are pleasurable and not painful.

Position Varieties to Consider:

  • Side-by-side: Lying on your sides can be less stressful on your body and allows for gentle penetration. It also offers a comfortable way to maintain eye contact and foster intimacy.
  • Woman on top: This position puts you in control of the depth and speed of penetration, allowing you to adjust to what feels best for your body.
  • Spoon position: Spooning is another gentle option that allows for a lot of closeness and minimal strain on your body. The controlled penetration depth can be particularly beneficial if you’re experiencing sensitivity.

Use lubrication

This one doesn’t need explanations; you’re producing less estrogen and vaginal fluids, so a lubricant can fix that quickly. You can also take a look at natural aphrodisiacs like Spanish Fly Pro to help you out. It offers natural vaginal lubrication, and you will experience higher libido levels. This makes for some great sex and lesser pain – just like you like it.

Try more than just intercourse

There are more ways to feel satisfied than straight-up intercourse. Try other approaches to intimacy to strengthen your mutual bond and still find pleasure in the end.

Keep the Kegels

You probably were recommended to do Kegel exercises while you were pregnant, and they’re an amazing way to strengthen your pelvic muscles. This can even speed up your recovery and sexual performance, so there’s no reason to stop doing them.

Just hold your pee for a bit and let go, repeat about 10 times per set.

You don’t have to stop worrying about sex even after childbirth. All you need is to focus on the right steps.

Keep the Kegels


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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Results will vary with each individual. Testimonials found on this site are unverified results that have been quoted from users, and may not reflect the typical purchaser's experience, may not apply to the average person and are not intended to represent or guarantee that anyone will achieve the same or similar results.