How Long After Pregnancy Can You Have Sex?

Whether you had a vaginal or C-section delivery, your body needs time to recover. Sex during this time puts you at risk for infection if you have any open wounds from your delivery.

In addition, hormonal changes, breastfeeding and sleep deprivation can all impact your desire for sex. It’s important to talk to your partner about what you want and need.

Wait at Least Four to Six Weeks After Delivery

Having a baby can change a lot about your body. Your vagina, uterus and cervix may be stretched or bruised, you’ll probably be exhausted from sleepless nights with your new bundle of joy and your libido may be low because of breastfeeding.

All of these factors can make sex feel less desirable and even uncomfortable for new moms. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have sex after having a baby; it just takes time and patience.

If you’re still feeling uncomfortable, talk to your partner. You might be able to find ways to be intimate with one another that are more enjoyable for you both, like massage, mutual masturbation or engaging in foreplay without penetrative sex.

Most experts recommend waiting until after you’ve had a postpartum checkup before attempting any kind of sexual activity, whether you had a vaginal or C-section delivery. This will give your provider a chance to see how your vagina and perineal tissue are healing, as well as address any concerns that might have come up during your delivery, such as an episiotomy or a tear that needs to heal.

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Talk to Your Provider

Regardless of whether you had a vaginal or C-section delivery, it’s not recommended to have penetrative sex until you get the all-clear from your provider at your postpartum checkup. This is to help ensure that your uterus, vagina and cervix (the opening of the vagina that sits at the top of the womb) are healed enough to handle sexual activity.

A dilated cervix — which happens during labor and when you deliver a baby — can allow bacteria to travel directly into the uterus, increasing your risk of infection. Infections caused by sex or feminine products (including tampons) also happen more easily with a dilated cervix, so it’s important to wait until you’re fully healed before you try sex.

Your healthcare provider will likely give you the go-ahead for sex once your uterus and vaginal canal have recovered. However, if you had a vaginal birth and experienced a perineal tear or episiotomy (which is surgically created to widen the vaginal canal), your provider may recommend waiting even longer to return to sexual activity.

It’s also important to start doing Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles before you attempt sex again. This will improve blood flow to your vulva, promote healing and increase your sexual pleasure when you’re ready to get intimate. (1)

Be Patient With Yourself

Pregnancy and delivery take a toll on a woman’s body, especially if she delivered vaginally or via C-section. It’s normal for sex to be the last thing on a new mom’s mind—but once she feels ready, it’s important to find ways to reconnect with her partner in a way that is healthy and satisfying.

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In the meantime, try lubricants to help with the pain that may be associated with postpartum sex and vaginal dryness (1, 2). You can also practice Kegel exercises (2, 3) to strengthen your muscles in preparation for intimate activity. If you plan to use a condom during sex, remember that it only offers about 98 percent protection against pregnancy (3, 4).

When your doctor gives you the green light to have sex, be patient with yourself and try not to push too hard. Your vagina will still be healing, you might have a perineal tear or episiotomy from your cesarean section, and hormonal levels have dropped to their lowest point, which can lead to decreased pleasure (4, 5).

During the six weeks of recovery, your hormones will return to more normal levels (6, 6) and the muscles in your pelvic area should get stronger. If you’re breastfeeding, your uterus will shrink and you can be confident that your breasts offer about 98 percent protection against pregnancy (6, 7). During this time, it’s also a good idea to have a reliable form of birth control in case you want to become pregnant again in the future.

Listen to Your Partner

There’s no exact timeline for when you can get intimate, but most healthcare providers will recommend waiting four to six weeks, or until you see your provider at your postpartum checkup after a vaginal or C-section delivery. This gives the uterus time to heal and allows your hormone levels to stabilize.

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It also helps reduce your risk of infection, as a leaking, swollen, or tender vagina may make it harder to maintain proper genital hygiene. The same applies to women who had a C-section, since the incision needs time to heal and could become infected if sex happens too soon.

If you’re in a relationship, it can be helpful to have open communication about what each of you wants and needs regarding sex after childbirth. However, every woman’s physical and emotional recovery after delivery will be different, so listen to yourself and your partner to find the right balance.

It’s not uncommon for new moms to have a hard time getting in the mood for sex after baby, especially if their vulva is still healing or they’re feeling tired and stressed from adjusting to life with a newborn. But, with open communication and patience from both parties, you can have a happy and healthy sexual relationship after pregnancy. And, remember that even if you feel ready to have sex, it’s always best to use backup birth control to protect against pregnancy.

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