When recovering from a cesarean delivery, you may think sex won’t be a big deal. After all, you didn’t go through the demands of vaginal delivery. You could even be considering having sex 3 weeks after cesarean section. Can you do it?
Can You Have Sex 3 Weeks After C-Section?
Three weeks is too soon. While you didn’t go through vaginal delivery, your body will still be recovering from the stresses of carrying a pregnancy. For this reason, it is recommended that you wait to do it again at least six weeks after delivery. The time is also required to allow your cervix to go back to its normal status.
It is also advisable that you consult your Ob/Gyn to rule out any complications. Once you restart your sexual activities, take precautionary measures to protect yourself from unplanned pregnancy. You can get pregnant even when your menses have not returned.
What Are the Risks of Having Sex Too Soon After C-Section?
Having sex 3 weeks after C-section or any time before 6 weeks following delivery can introduce bacteria in the healing internal wound. This can lead to infections such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). It may also cause increased bleeding, internal injury and pain.
What Is “Lochia” and How Will It Affect Sex?
Lochia is a discharge of a mixture of blood, tissue and mucus following vaginal or cesarean delivery. Lochia is shed as the uterus continues to heal and will usually go on for up to eight weeks. While lochia does not affect sex, whether you had a C-section or vaginal delivery, having sex during the lochia period exposes you to infections.
How Will the Doctor Know that Your Body Has Healed Enough for Sex?
During your 6th week postpartum checkup, your doctor will perform a thorough examination using a speculum to establish whether your organs are well healed and ready for resumption of sexual activity. Your doctor will examine your vagina, cervix, ovary size and evaluate vaginal bleeding. He/she will also interview you to find out if you are experiencing any pain. When the doctor ascertains that all is well, he/she will give you a go-ahead to have sex.
Painful Sex After C-Section, Why?
Whether you have sex 3 weeks after C-section or you wait for six, you may still experience some pain. This happens due to a number of factors, including the following:
1. Low Estrogen Levels
Estrogen hormone is important in the maintenance of your vaginal tissues. It helps keep them well lubricated and supple. Breastfeeding keeps the levels of estrogen below normal. This will cause the vagina to be unusually dry and prone to a lot of friction.
When you become sexually active after the recovery period, you might still experience discomfort or pain. To improve this condition, consider applying some lube before penetration to improve lubrication. Your doctor may prescribe estrogen cream.
The condition improves within a few weeks and in most cases once menstruation resumes.
2. Pain Around Incision/Scar
Most C-section incisions are either bikini or horizontal. The cut is made through the abdomen, immediately above the pubic area. After the visible incision site heals, some scarring will remain. Note that the similar scarring will be lying internally within the abdominal wall and the uterus.
Scarring restricts blood flow. It may also include connective tissue and nerves within the region. In addition, scar tissues may be oversensitive to touch. This collection of factors can cause pain and sensitivity during sexual intercourse. The problem can be improved by scar tissue release therapy.
3. Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
While there is an assumption that pelvic muscles are weakened by vaginal delivery, the truth is that pregnancy causes the main toll as the whole pelvic region remains under stress throughout the pregnancy period. The stress causes pelvic muscles to stretch and tighten. This is one of the reasons why experts recommend that you wait for at least six weeks before resumption of sexual activities. It is expected that your pelvic floor muscles will have sufficiently recovered by this time.
When you have sex too soon after a C-section, the accompanying spasms cause increased tension and pain. In some cases, pain and discomfort may occur even after the recommended 6 weeks. Seek assistance from your doctor or physical therapist. It is also important that you let your partner know what you are experiencing so that you deal with it together.
Tips on Sex After C-Section
While some women may be considering sex 3 weeks after C-section, others will not be ready to have sex even 6 weeks postpartum. This may be due to a number of factors, including extreme fatigue, worrying about pain sex and lack of interest. If you experience any of these feelings, don’t force yourself. Instead, tell your partner how you feel so that he understands that you will need to wait a little longer.
Following are some tips to improve sex after giving birth:
- Take it slow – You might have to start by spending time with your partner. Ask him to give you a massage, or simply hold each other. This will reestablish your connection and prepare you for resumption of sex soon.
- Try more comfortable positions – These will usually be positions that don’t involve pressure to your pelvis and especially the incision site. Such positions include spooning and side by side.
- Try oral sex – This may help prepare you for the real thing. It will also give you a chance to listen to your body so that you know if you are ready.
- Use lube – Sex during the breastfeeding period may be painful due to vaginal dryness which causes increased friction. Using vaginal lubricants reduces the friction and discomfort. Remember, you may still need to take it slowly until you feel comfortable enough.
- Consult your doctor – In case you still have problems such as sudden bleeding and ongoing pain long after the recommended time for recovery, visit your doctor for examination and further help.