In fact, over 85% of women will struggle with painful sex postpartum, but lest you think this is just an issue with vaginal birth, you’d be mistaken. I’ve seen women who’ve never had babies, and women who’ve had all c-sections, and though it’s more common if you’ve had a vaginal delivery, it certainly does not discriminate. If you have given birth (c-section or vaginally) you’ve most likely been “released” at six weeks postpartum and told you’re safe to start intercourse at any time. This is based on a quick exam by your Dr. who makes sure that any tearing etc has healed up well.
But what it doesn’t tell you is this –
- Scar tissue affects tissue mobility, and stiff tissue will lead to pain. In addition, your scar may be “healed” but still tender/painful.
- Pain leads to anxiety which can cause pelvic floor tightness.
Tightness can occur with ANY amount of trauma (physical or otherwise) as well as with anxiety.
- Breastfeeding and hormonal changes can cause dryness making things very uncomfortable, and this is not always fixed simply with a lubricant.
- Prolapse, pelvic floor weakness, etc can all have an effect on how things “feel.”
- Some women are not mentally/emotionally ready at 6 weeks AND THAT IS OK.
But…before you think that this is “just the way it is,” please know that there is HELP and solutions to every one of these circumstances. A big part of my job with women who have pain (postpartum or otherwise) is giving you a chance to talk through all of this with a non-judgmental person who has heard it ALL, b/c I know that it’s not always easy to talk about. Pain with sex affects relationships and it’s not just a physical issue, nor is “drink some wine and try to relax” a solution.
I believe sex is a gift to BOTH men and women…it’s not just a “wife’s duty.” I’ve loved following @franciewinslow and the wonderful encouragement she shares in this area! If you’d love to hear some joyful truth in God’s design, go give her a follow and check out her podcast. And if you’d love to get past the point of pain, please schedule a visit (in-person only). I’d love to help you.