Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pain with Intercourse After Child Birth

Pain with intercourse after a vaginal child birth is not uncommon. Most medical physicians suggest no intercourse for 8 weeks after vaginal child birth and even after some caesarean sections. Most importantly, this allows the cervix to return to pre-pregnancy dilation to prevent bacteria from entering the uterus.  This also allows the pelvis, pelvic floor and vaginal tissues to heal from trauma, open wounds and the stretching.  The pelvic floor stretches three times its length during the birthing process (imagine taking your bicep muscle and stretching it 3 times its length; these muscles are going to be sore for a while).

Pregnancy hormones progesterone and estrogen increase the laxity in the tissues to prepare for the belly to enlarge and the pelvis to allow the baby’s head to pass through during birth. These hormones remain at elevated levels after pregnancy and through the time the mother is breast feeding. Pain can be felt in the pelvis and thighs due to the instability caused by these hormones after birth.  Having to “spread” the legs during intercourse can cause pain in the hips, pelvis and low back if these structures are unstable.

So how does a couple return to healthy intercourses after pregnancy?

First, allow for 8 weeks to pass for the tissues and structures of the body to heal, and the cervix and uterus to contract to their pre-pregnancy size.  Then attempt slow, controlled intercourse with an ample supply of lubricant.  If at any time there is pain or discomfort, stop, and try again another time.  For women, intercourse with vaginal penetration is the most vulnerable, intimate act a woman can engage in. If there is pain or discomfort, it can dramatically mentally and physically damage later acts of intimacy for women.

If several attempts were performed without success, be sure to see a medical physician to diagnosis possible medical issues, such as a pelvic infection.  Ask for a physical therapy referral if all is cleared medically.  A physical therapist specialized in women's wealth has many techniques and skills that can help a couple address pain, musculoskeletal issues, and return both partners to a healthy, fulfilling sexual experience.

Neille C. High Risk Pregnancy and Postpartum Physical Therapy. Chicago, Illinois. The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. May 21-23, 2010.

1 comment:

  1. Is there anything a woman can do during pregnancy and before actual childbirth to make the healing process afterwards faster?