Why does it hurt to have sex after childbirth?

This is a complaint for some women that I hear as a pelvic health therapist. It is common for some women to experience pain with sex after childbirth. There are many reasons why this might happen.


One reason sex can be painful after childbirth is because estrogen levels drop after giving birth. If you are breastfeeding, estrogen levels continue to stay low. If you have low estrogen levels, you could experience vaginal dryness. You could try a vaginal lubricant during sex to see if this improves your comfort level.


Secondly, if you had an episiotomy or experienced vaginal tearing during childbirth your tissues may need some time to heal. Learning how to perform scar mobilization once you have been cleared by your midwife or OB can greatly improve the flexibility of your tissues and desensitize any painful areas.


If you experienced a large vaginal tear during vaginal childbirth your body may need a longer time to heal. Also, you may have muscle spasm or tension that develop because of the pain and trauma to the muscle, thus working with the muscle issues may be necessary. You can see a pelvic health therapist to help you along this journey.



Sometimes just the fear of pain (thinking it will hurt) can cause you to tense up. For example, if you did have pain the first time you had sex after giving birth, then just thinking of the experience of pain can cause you to want to tense up even if there is no pain present during subsequent attempts. This can turn into a vicious cycle. When you are anxious or fearful during sex your body won’t achieve normal arousal and lubrication. This can cause lead to painful sex because of a lack of lubrication. If you think you can find ways to relax and enjoy sex more on your own, then try. If you need help overcoming the painful memory or to help your pelvic floor muscles relax, ask for a referral to see a pelvic health therapist.


Schedule a free Discovery Call with Katy at The Fit Pelvis to discuss the benefits of physical therapy to help you with any of the issues mentioned above.


Pain-free sex is achievable. Don’t continue to live in pain when help is available.


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