Childbirth can really throw a wrench into your sex life. The changes your body goes through during and after pregnancy can be painful and just plain weird. The Journal of Prenatal Medicine reports that many women (understandably) fear that pregnancy-induced changes in their bodies will affect their sexual function.
To help women understand what they can expect, we chatted with OB-GYNs and a few new moms to find out more about these sex-related changes. Whether it's dryness down there or leaking breast milk, we promise you're not the first to experience these unsexy post-baby symptoms. But hey, if things are gonna get awkward, it's better to at least know about it in advance. These tips will help you prepare (at least mentally) for the changes your sex life will go through after having a kid.
Obviously, there are a lot of vaginal changes that occur during and after pregnancy: Tissue becomes more sensitive and woman can have swollen blood vessels. “Light spotting or bleeding can be common after sex, and there can be increased secretions, which are typically normal," says Jennifer M. Browning, OB-GYN and medical director at Kingwood Skin Essentials. "Changes can persist for months after delivery. However, if you have painful intercourse or abnormal discharge, you should see your obstetrician to check whether there might be an infection, which can usually be treated with a short course of antibiotics.”
“The most surprising aspect of my sex life after having my son is that I crave sex more," says Bailey, 29, a new mom from Ojai, California. "The limited time and privacy my husband and I have has added a fresh allure to our intimacy — we actually can’t get enough of it, because we rarely get a chance to have any of it!” Well, that might actually be a pretty welcome change! Who's going to say no to sex becoming even more appealing? (Just make sure you've got a babysitter on speed-dial.)
Sex isn't always going to be smooth sailing like it was before you had a kid. Even if your infant isn't wailing at the absolute worst moment — like when you're about to come — your body could do something random that could take you both aback, so learn to roll with whatever goes down. “I remember my husband and I were getting hot and heavy on the couch," says Melissa, 42, of Westchester, New York. "We had just put our then-2-month-old to bed. My husband went to squeeze my breast and got his hand covered in breast milk. Leaking at unexpected times was just something we had to get used to. It feels weird at first, but you learn to just laugh at it.”
Certain sexual positions could feel more comfortable after delivery than prior to pregnancy. “Hormonal changes during pregnancy can sometimes alter your pelvic bone structure, making certain positions much more appealing," says Dr. Gil Weiss, assistant professor of clinical medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and partner at The Association For Women's Health Care. "Plus, delivery itself can shift internal structures around, making new positions much more stimulating and satisfactory than before.” Think of it as a whole new adventure, learning to discover what gets you off now that didn't before, and this can actually be a fun one!
"Before I gave birth, it was a lot easier for me to get wet," says Robin, 36, a mom of twins located in Lowell, Massachusetts. "Since giving birth to my twin sons, it’s like I have a shortage of vaginal lubrication. Being too dry made sex after birth painful at times, but there's an easy solution. I keep a few bottles of external and internal lubricants around and it helps so much."
"I was ready for all the things that would change about my genital area, but not when it came to my breasts!" says new mom Dr. Tanya Kormeili, 40, of Los Angeles, California. "The combination of lactation and the breast pump made my nipples feel like they went through the paper shredder and were then sprinkled with acid. Even the slightest touch felt painful. They were numb, dead to the world, and no longer a place of erotic pleasure. As a dermatologist, I even had plenty of creams to heal the wounds, but the numbness and change in sensation, appearance and self-perception was rather shocking. If you feel this way, you are not alone!"
This one is crazy counterintuitive, but true for some women! “After giving birth vaginally to my first child, I thought everything would stretch out, making sex less pleasurable," says Jade, 38, of Portland, Oregon. "What I got was the opposite. It felt like my vagina had actually tightened! At times, my boyfriend would just give up trying to enter me because it was like trying to open a tightly closed clam! I found that taking a muscle relaxant and using extra lube helped."
Ah, we saved the best for last. “When I think back to sex before I had my first child, [sex] was a combination of lust, desire and maintenance," says mom of two Brenda, 33, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. "Once I felt comfortable with intercourse again, sex started to feel more loving — maybe because we were now parents together. I don’t know if it was the emotions or the physical changes, but something made it easier for me to have bigger and longer orgasms. I used to be able to orgasm, but not all the time, and it took some work. Now, I feel like I barely have to do anything! The hard part is actually keeping quiet while the kids are sleeping.” Now that's a good problem to have!
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