Childbirth is a monumental event in a woman’s life with the focus is often directed towards the new bundle of joy.
Birthing however has a huge impact on a woman’s physical and emotional wellbeing.
Birthing often brings changes a woman’s identity, relationships and self-image.
The impact of these physical and emotional changes can make it difficult for a woman to find pleasure in sexual intimacy.
Postnatally many women experience a variety physical changes which can impact on their sexual function. This can happen in women who have had both vaginal and/or C- sections.
Sexual desire may also fluctuate following childbirth. Some women have no sexual interest with fatigue, hormonal changes, emotional fears, body image issue, lack of sensation and pain affecting their interest.
Typically, it is recommended that you wait till after your six weeks check before resuming sexual intercourse.
It generally takes this amount of time for the tissues to heal. If you have a vaginal delivery with a tear or episiotomy or an assisted delivery using forceps or vacuum it may take even longer.
On first attempts at sexual intercourse it is normal to be a little sore and uncomfortable. There is often fear and awkwardness by both partners. Take it slow, try different positions and spend time on reconnecting more so than a physical workout. Over a few weeks this should become easier and resume to normal.
Sex should not be extremely painful, tight, sharp, burning or create long lasting pain. If pain and or discomfort is extreme and not settling many women find themselves avoiding having sex altogether. Other women find there is a vaginal looseness and lack of sensation making sex less pleasurable, making it difficult to orgasm.
Many women feel guilty and saddened by not being able to please their partner or themselves. Partners often also feel rejected and losing physical connection over time can add an unnecessary strain on relationships.
This is a familiar story to many women however they suffer in silence too embarrassed to talk about it, sometimes too exhausted to care or not knowing that something can be done. Girlfriends or sisters may also report the same issues further reinforcing that that is just part and parcel of childbirth.
Some women have tried to seek help and mentioned it to a health Practioner only to be fobbed off, being told there is nothing wrong, others have been told to have a glass of wine next time they try. Other health practioners take interest and appropriately recommend a women’s health physiotherapist.
A women’s health physio knows these stories all too well and is equipped to help unravel the problem.
Physical changes to the tissues within the pelvic bowl are usually the source of much of a women’s symptoms. Tight, weak, stretched, torn muscles and ligaments, skin sensitivity, scar tissues, irritation can all be causes of your sexual symptoms. In addition, hormonal changes, fear, stress, postnatal depletion and any phycological issues associated birth trauma can all further contribute to the symptoms.
Seeing a women’s health physiotherapist for the physical issues will be the start of identifying and addressing the problem. Tight muscles often require stretching and massage to re-establish their ability to function. Weakness or poor muscular coordination of the pelvic floor and core will also need addressing. Learning about pain and addressing the other potential influences on your physical symptoms is also key to resolving the issues. Referring to other suitable health practioners such as psychologist, nutrionist, naturopath, specialist etc may also be required to have a team approach to your recovery.
There is no need to put up with any of this, help is available. Finding a practioner who hears your story will allow you to begin to recover. Don’t give up until you find someone who will listen and empower you with the tools to heal.
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