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Sex After a C-Section: 7 Things to Be Aware Of

If you have just had a cesarean section (C-section) delivery, you may be wondering when it is safe to have sex after giving birth. Whatever you need to know about sex after a C-section delivery, from how long to wait to have sex after giving birth to what positions to try or which to avoid, we have your back. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about having sex for the first time after giving birth.

There are a few things to keep in mind when deciding whether you’re ready to resume having sex after a C-section. The first factor is your C-section scar, the second is vaginal bleeding, and the third is your emotional state. In addition to those things, you should also consider your overall health including your strength level, as well as your birth control method.   

There is a common misconception that people who have given birth via C-section can have sex soon after delivery because they have not had as much trauma to the vagina.

Hold off from having intercourse at least until you have been to your six-week postpartum checkup. Rushing into things too quickly and even sex four weeks after a C-section can lead to complications such as infection. 

Six weeks is the average amount of time it takes the uterus to return to its normal size, cervix to close, and C-section incision to heal. Once you get the all-clear from your health care provider, medically speaking, you’re good to go. 

That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re ready to resume having intercourse after giving birth, though. Consider your mental health as well. It is common to experience baby blues or postpartum depression after giving birth, which can cause low libido. 

Share these things with your partner, and don’t force yourself to do something you don’t feel ready to do. It’s normal to have a low sex drive after giving birth.

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In an ideal world, sparks fly when you finally have sex after a long time.

The reality for most people is quite different. The first time having sex after giving birth may be uncomfortable or painful. 

The healing process is not linear. In other words, you may feel great one day and totally down the next. Sometimes, sex for the first time after giving birth causes bleeding. Many people find that bleeding stops for a few days only to start back up again.

The recovery process for people who have had C-section deliveries is generally longer than for those who have had a vaginal delivery. Talk to your partner about any concerns you may have, and wait until you feel ready. 

If you are experiencing pain in your vagina or around the C-section scar, be sure to visit your health care provider to rule out infection or other complications.

If you’re ready to start having sex again, but not so ready to aggravate that tender area, there are a few sex positions that you may prefer. 

Positions where you’re on top are ideal because they give you full control. You can decide on the depth of penetration and the level of contact with your abdomen. It also allows you to move in ways that are most comfortable for you. In addition, positions that involve side or rear entry will keep pressure off of the tender incision area. Spooning may be your best bet at the very beginning.

After a C-section delivery, it can be tricky to find a position that works well for you. Feel free to experiment. If you feel any discomfort, stop. 

Avoid positions that cause you to strain or put pressure on your C-section scar. While it’s true that pain during sex after pregnancy is common, any position that exacerbates that pain isn’t worth it. 

For the first few months, you may find that positions in which your partner is on top, such as missionary, put too much pressure on the area around your scar. 

Avoid doggy style sex until your scar is fully healed, because it puts pressure on the core and pelvic area.

Vaginal dryness is incredibly common after giving birth, especially if you are breastfeeding. Before and during pregnancy, you may not have come across this issue at all, and so it may not occur to you to use lubricant during sex. 

After giving birth, your hormone levels plummet. Estrogen, a hormone that plays a major role in vaginal lubrication, is especially low when you’re nursing. 

Sex right after giving birth may be uncomfortable. Vaginal dryness can make it more so. Your health care provider may suggest a low-dose vaginal estrogen, water-based lubricant, or vaginal moisturizers to prevent unnecessary irritation and pain.

When deciding how long to wait to have sex after giving birth, it can be easy to forget about birth control. You can discuss contraception options with your health care provider to figure out what is best for you.

Many people mistakenly think that they can’t get pregnant while nursing. In fact, 50 percent of people who are nursing will begin to ovulate between 6 and 12 months after delivery, even while breastfeeding. Importantly, you will start ovulating again before you get your period again. This contributes to 15 to 55 percent of people getting pregnant if they rely on nursing as their only contraception. 

That’s why it’s important for people who are breastfeeding to use contraception

Make sure to talk to your health care provider about birth control options at your six-week postpartum checkup. If you’re breastfeeding and you want to use hormonal contraception, your health care provider might prescribe a progesterone-only form of birth control, such as the mini-pill. Combined oral contraceptives do not threaten your baby’s health, but they can compromise your milk supply. 

If you’re not planning on getting pregnant for at least a year after giving birth, you may want to try an IUD. Both copper and hormonal IUDs are considered safe to use while breastfeeding. 

Other options include implants, injections, or barrier methods such as condoms, diaphragms, and cervical caps.  

Your body has been through a lot of changes. What worked for you in the past may not work for you now, and that’s OK. Talk to your health care provider to find the right birth control for you so that you can feel totally relaxed and secure when resuming intercourse after giving birth.

It’s perfectly normal to feel nervous about having sex for the first time after giving birth. These tips can help take the pressure off so that you can start enjoying yourself in bed again. 

  • Set low expectations. You might not have mind-blowing sex a few weeks or even a few months after delivery. It takes time to physically and mentally adjust to all of the changes that take place post-delivery. Sex may not be great the first few times, but it can improve over time. 
  • Go easy on yourself. You may not be as eager as you once were to have sex, and there’s actually a scientific explanation for that. Between sleep deprivation and the sudden drop in hormone levels, your libido is bound to take a hit. It’s normal not to want sex as much as you used to — or at all. 
  • Go slow. After delivery — vaginal or C-section — things will feel different. It may take more patience and mindfulness to enjoy sex. Things you enjoyed before delivery may not be as comfortable now. Wait until you’re sure you’re ready before having sex and experiment with different positions to figure out what’s best for you now. 
  • Talk about it. Whatever it is you’re feeling — self-conscious, uncomfortable, or aroused — it’s important to share it openly. 
  • Use lube. Even if you think you don’t need it, get yourself some water-based lubricant and use it liberally. There’s no point in having painful sex when you’re trying to get back into the swing of things. 
  • Stop if it doesn’t feel good. It may seem like a no-brainer, but in the moment, it can be really difficult to speak up if you feel uncomfortable. Remember sex should be pleasurable for everyone involved, and you can stop whenever you want to. There are other ways to enjoy each other without penetration. 
  • Wait for the green light from your health care provider. While some mystery may add to the fun, guessing is never a good thing when it comes to medical issues. Wait until you have the go-ahead from your health care provider to avoid risking injury or infection.

It’s important to wait at least six weeks after a C-section delivery before having intercourse. But, it’s also fine to wait longer than that. Listen closely to your body and take your emotional state into consideration when deciding when to have sex after a C-section. 

If you are experiencing pain in or around your vagina or C-section scar, let your partner and your health care provider know. If you have any concerns regarding pain or discomfort, visit your health care provider to rule out infection and ensure that you’re recovering well.

Berghella, Vincenzo. “Patient Education: C-Section (Cesarean Delivery) (Beyond the Basics).” UpToDate, 25 Feb. 2019, https://www.uptodate.com/contents/c-section-cesarean-delivery-beyond-the-basics.

“When Can I Use Contraception after Having a Baby?” NHS Choices, NHS, 19 July 2017, www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/when-contraception-after-baby/.

“Sex and Contraception after Birth.” NHS Choices, NHS, 13 Dec. 2018, www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/sex-contraception-after-birth/.

“Caesarean Section. Recovery.” NHS Choices, NHS, 27 June 2019, www.nhs.uk/conditions/caesarean-section/recovery/.

National Collaborating Centre for Women’s and Children’s Health (UK). “Recovery Following Caesarean Section.” Caesarean Section., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK115312/.

Mcdonald, E, and S Brown. “Does Method of Birth Make a Difference to When Women Resume Sex after Childbirth?” BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, vol. 120, no. 7, 2013, pp. 823–830., doi:10.1111/1471-0528.12166.

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