Denver Medical Concierges

How Long Do I Have to Wait to Have Sex After Giving Birth?

May 04, 2024
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Information how long to wait to have sex after childbirth.

The first time a woman has sex after childbirth can be stressful for many reasons.  The thought of having sex can trigger a stress response in most women due to recent physical vaginal trauma, subsequent pain and fear of pain with sexual intercourse. In addition to physical trauma, there may be body image issues because their postpartum body looks and feels different. Physiologically,  they still have baby weight, most women are breastfeeding which is often accompanied by dehydration and vaginal dryness. And last but not least, this new mama is having a significant down regulation of hormones that is challenging for most, if not all women in the immediate postpartum period.

Message to partners:  Please be patient with the mother of your baby.  Her apprehension about resuming sexual intercourse is not a lack of affection for you. It is quite the opposite. These women come to their 6 week postpartum visit in tears seeking medical advice  e.g., medical clearance. Then, we go onto address the psychological aspect of resuming sexual intercourse with their partner.  Being loving, caring and nurturing to her and letting her know that you want to take care of her in every way will ease her fears and improve the overall experience for everyone.

That being said...here is the recommendations that I give to my patients which are consistent with other experts in this field:

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology  (ACOG) as well as the Mayo Clinic recommend women wait at least 4-6 weeks after giving birth before having sexual intercourse.    This time frame allows the body to heal from the physical stresses of childbirth, including tears and episiotomies. It is also important to allow the uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy size/position, and for the production of cervical mucus to resume which protects against infection. Additionally, it is important to WAIT until you feel ready and comfortable to resume sexual activity, as this can vary among individuals. It is always a good idea to discuss your plans with your healthcare provider to ensure that you are cleared for sexual activity and to address any concerns or questions you may have.  

Most consider the 6 week postpartum check as the time that women are cleared to resume sexual activity. One thing that is super important as it relates to having sex after pregnancy is deciding on your postpartum birth control method.  After giving birth, YOUR ovaries have been asleep for the last 10 months. Which means that you are SUPER FERTILE and your ovaries are READY to send out an egg that will get fertilized if you have unprotected sex.  The attached article from the  Mayo Clinic addresses birth control options for postpartum women especially if you are breastfeeding.

Having sex after pregnancy may be a little scary for women especially if they have had a tear (vaginal laceration) or episiotomy.  It's really important that your partner is patient with you. You may want to try some alternatives to sexual intercourse for example oral sex or mutual masturbation.  And communicate with your partner about what feels good and if something is uncomfortable or painful.  If you experience vaginal dryness which is more common for  postpartum and breastfeeding mothers - you may need to invest in a vaginal lubricant.

ACOG created a Partner's Guide to Pregnancy and it has a wealth of information for partners or caregivers for their pregnant partners.