Sex After Giving Birth: What to Expect

Medically Reviewed By Stacy A. Henigsman, DO
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While there is no set timeline for having sex after giving birth, most doctors recommend waiting 4–6 weeks. This gives your body time to heal from the process of delivery. This article explains how long to wait before having sex after giving birth. It also discusses how giving birth can affect sex, how soon you can get pregnant again, and tips for a healthy sex life after giving birth.

How long should you wait to have sex after giving birth?

Male lying in bed with a pregnant female, snuggling
Ibai Acevedo/Stocksy United

There is no set waiting time for resuming sexual activity after giving birth. However, many experts recommend waiting 4–6 weeks.

Everybody recovers from pregnancy and labor differently. Your body may heal and feel differently from someone else who has also given birth. Listen to your body and only resume sexual activity when you feel that you’re ready.

Typically, concerns like bleeding or infection are less common 2 weeks after giving birth. If you had an episiotomy or tearing during labor, waiting longer before sex can ensure it heals fully.

Unless your doctor instructs otherwise, you do not have to avoid having sex. However, it’s important not to have sex again before you feel ready.

Giving yourself and your partner time to settle into any new routines is a good idea. You may also want to give yourself time to adjust to the changes in your body and hormones after giving birth.

How does giving birth affect sex?

Giving birth can affect sex in many different ways. You may feel uncomfortable with the changes in your body. You may worry that your partner does not want sex, or perhaps they want sex sooner than you do. There are many ways your body changes after giving birth, and it can take time to accept them all.

The hormone changes you typically experience after giving birth can cause vaginal dryness. You may feel concerned that this will make sex uncomfortable. Using a lubricant can help with dryness and make sex more comfortable for you. You can purchase different types of lubricant from a pharmacy.

If you had a vaginal delivery, you may feel concerned that sex will feel different. If you had a cesarean delivery, you may feel pain or discomfort around the surgical site. Different positions may help take the pressure off. However, remember to listen to your body and not rush into sexual activity.

How does giving birth affect your libido?

After giving birth, it’s common for your sex drive or libido to be lower than it was. Many factors can influence your libido after giving birth. These factors include:

  • hormonal changes
  • fatigue or lack of sleep
  • vaginal or vulvar pain and discomfort
  • breastfeeding, which can cause a disconnect between your breasts and sexuality
  • trauma from childbirth
  • body image concerns
  • postpartum depression

Your libido may return to its usual level. However, it may take time for this to happen. Be patient with yourself and your body.

How soon can you get pregnant again?

It is possible to get pregnant again within 3 weeks of giving birth. This is the case even if you are nursing and your period has not started again.

Getting pregnant again in the first year

Giving your body enough time to fully heal is important when you think about getting pregnant again. This can generally mean waiting at least 18 months before you try to conceive.

Waiting for more than a year between pregnancies can help ensure your body has fully recovered.

For example, having pregnancies within a year of each other increases the risk of preterm labor. Babies who are born early can often have a higher risk of serious health issues.

You can begin taking birth control 3–6 weeks after giving birth. Discuss all your birth control options with your doctor.

Q:

Is it typical to bleed during sex after giving birth?

Anonymous

A:

It may be normal to experience bleeding during intercourse after giving birth. This may be due to normal postpartum discharge or be related to symptoms such as vaginal dryness. Give it some time, but always check with your physician if bleeding persists past 6 weeks, if you have signs of an infection, are passing large blood clots, feel dizzy, or have fever or chills.

Stacy A. Henigsman, DO Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.

Tips for a healthy sex life post-pregnancy

The most important thing to keep in mind about sex after pregnancy is to do it in your own time. Do not rush into having sex again. Wait until you and your partner are both emotionally and physically ready.

Consider these tips as you consider when to resume sexual activity:

  • Go slowly: Take your time, both physically and emotionally.
  • Communicate with your partner: Be open with them about your concerns. Communicate that if you are not ready or sex is not currently enjoyable, it doesn’t mean that you’re pushing them away. During sex, communicate what feels pleasant and what doesn’t. Know that it’s OK if you need to take breaks or stop.
  • Try other positions: If you have a tear or your vagina feels sore, try different positions. Lying on your side or being on top may help reduce the pressure and strain on those areas. If penetration hurts, you and your partner can consider options for sex without penetration.
  • Consider lubrication: You may find that hormones make your vagina feel dry. Consider using lubrication to help with discomfort.
  • Make time to relax together: You may be more likely to feel comfortable resuming sex if you make time to relax and be together. Nonsexual forms of intimacy can help you feel closer to your partner.
  • Work together: If sex is consistently unpleasant for you, it may begin to feel like a nuisance or chore. For that reason, it’s important to work together to ensure both parties enjoy it.
  • Speak with your doctor: If you are experiencing pain or discomfort with sex by your postnatal checkup, or you have concerns about having sex, speak with your doctor. They can check for any medical concerns and give you advice on how to make sex more comfortable.

Summary

There is no set timeline for when you can or should have sex again after giving birth. Many doctors recommend waiting 4–6 weeks to ensure your body has healed. However, the risk of most issues reduces after 2 weeks.

Listen to your body and only approach having sex again when you are ready. Be open with your partner about your concerns.

Consider your contraceptive options. You can get pregnant again within 3 weeks of giving birth. However, it is typically advised to wait more than a year before getting pregnant again.

Discuss contraception and any concerns you may have with your doctor.

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Medical Reviewer: Stacy A. Henigsman, DO
Last Review Date: 2022 Nov 4
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.