“Why is postpartum sex painful, especially the first time?” It’s a common question new mothers ask after their first postpartum sexual experience. In short, the answer is simple…it shouldn’t be. For the detailed answer and what to do about it, read on!
4 reasons why first postpartum sex is painful
- If you’ve had a vaginal delivery, you have pushed a bowling ball out of a coin purse. Depending on how far along you are in your postpartum journey, your tissue, nerves and muscles might have some subconscious feelings about what happened the last time something came out of your vagina. Trauma and negative feelings can be stored in your body without your knowledge until they are triggered.
- Pelvic floor muscle weakness – no matter your birthing method, your pelvic floor has worked hard through pregnancy. You may have pelvic organ prolapse, or it could be muscle weakness. Lax muscles mean increased discomfort due to less control.
- Episiotomy scar tissue – some mothers complain about pain around their episiotomy or tear. It’s not unusual depending on your healing, as scar tissue lacks the elasticity of regular skin and tissue.
- Hormones and arousal issues – as your hormones rebalance and you go through the matresence process, sexual desire and arousal are low. Low sexual desire and arousal mean a lack of vaginal lubrication, which causes painful friction.
Postpartum intercourse should not be painful if you are doing it right. Experiencing some initial discomfort on those first couple of occasions is normal whilst your body adjusts, but that discomfort should ease quickly.
Tips to stop painful sex
Forget influences and control your sexuality
Don’t rush into intercourse. There’s no push present for having sex first! Ignore your pre-conceived social and cultural ideas about sex, women’s roles and relationships. What happens in your relationship and your life is nobody’s business but the people involved.
Take your time reclaiming your sexuality and easing back into sexual activities. Communicate regularly with your partner about how you are feeling, your concerns and what you are comfortable with.
Perineal massage for scarring
If you experience pain around your episiotomy scar or tear, try regular perineal massage to acclimatise the skin and tissue to stretch. Put some oil or lubricant on your fingers (or ask your partner), and after some gentle circular motions, gently stretch the skin sideways. Don’t stretch the skin to the point of pain. Progress slowly, getting the skin to stretch more and more each time.
Firstly, don’t have intercourse when you aren’t in the mood. It’s the easiest way to cause yourself unnecessary pain through a lack of lubrication.
Think about what it is that excites you for sex. Anticipate having intercourse that day and make yourself feel sexy. Put on some nice lingerie, a nice moisturiser, read erotica etc. Then slowly engage in sex. Ask your partner to caress your entire body for as long as YOU need. Don’t rush through the experience. The more you can heighten all your senses, particularly touch and taste, the more your desire will increase, and your body will arouse and naturally open up.
When you are ready for penetration, use your relaxation breathing to help your body open and accept the object or penis. Inhale for 4 counts and exhale for 4 counts. On your exhale, consciously relax every muscle in your pelvis and legs. Repeat as required.
Once the object or penis has penetrated, if you are feeling tense, ask your partner to remain still and use the same breathing technique to acclimatise to the sensation inside your vagina.
See a women’s health physio
If you suffer from prolapse or have pelvic floor muscle weakness visit a women’s health physio for exercises to help strengthen your muscles. It’s a good idea to see a physio to confirm you are performing kegel exercises correctly.
Take control of your sexuality and enjoy exploring where a positive and confident sensual self can take you. If you continue to experience pain or discomfort contact me for further information.
Written for Bubba Bump by
Vanessa Tarfon, Mmed(HSSH) - Sex Therapist and Founder -www.authenticawareness.com.au
IG - @authenticawareness