Dear Dr. G,

I would like to shout out to the world that I became a proud father of a baby boy six months ago. I am so glad I supported my wife throughout the whole pregnancy.

From the moment of a positive pregnancy test, till the water broke and finally the natural birth, the experience of being there was simply priceless. Six months after the birth of my healthy baby, I would like to put Dr. G on the spot for some sexual problems I am encountering.

First, since knowing about the pregnancy, my wife and I both decided not to have any intercourse, as this is a precious baby, we have been trying for five years. Imagine no sex for more than a year – not even masturbating as I feel like this is “cheating” on my wife.

The other problem I have is the fact that I was there during childbirth. It was not a straightforward birth as my wife had tears in the vagina that needed stitching. As I didn’t want to cause her any pain, I waited to see how she recovers.

Lastly, as new parents, we are having our fair share of sleepless nights for feeding and nappy changing.

We are both exhausted, and no one is mentioning anything about sex. The fact is I really miss having sex with my wife.

Can you tell me what do men really think about sex after childbirth? What is the medical advice about postpartum sex?

Any studies done to show the typical time couples resume sex? Any tips on how to overcome all my phobia and get back to our active sex life?

I am eagerly waiting for this day and your answers.

Yours truly,
Eager Edward

The timing for the initiation of sexual intercourse after childbirth is not as straightforward, as the experience of the delivery varies between individuals.

Sex is often the last thing on a postpartum mothers’ mind, especially with injury to the perineum or incision to the vagina during childbirth.

Studies confirmed assisted delivery with suction or forceps correlated with increases in severity of pain during sex. In addition, some women experience a prolonged loss of sexual desire due to breast feeding, exhaustion, and even postnatal depression.

Although there is no standardized recommendation, most doctors would advise waiting for four to six weeks before resuming sex, allowing the cervix to close and wounds to heal.

The actual harm of resuming early penetrative intercourse is small. A rare complication of air embolism is a potential risk, when air enters the bloodstream due to sex before the placental bed has healed. Other minor risks may also include further tears to the incision causing infections of uterus or vagina.

A few studies have been done to identify the timing to resume sex demonstrating cultural differences. A study in Turkey found that 42% resumed sex within six weeks, however American and British studies revealed 57% of women resume sex after six weeks.

Another Chinese study showed 52% had resumed sex by two months and 95% by six months. Most studies demonstrated 80% and 90% of couples would resume sex three- and six-months post-partum, respectively, in most countries.

In may come as no surprise that 44% of new mums felt insecure about their post-baby bodies with one-third feeling “too fat for sex”.

On the contrary, a third of men do not see any difference in their partners’ figure after childbirth and a huge 63% reported their partner more attractive than ever before.

The initial stages of resuming sex after childbirth may be fraught with obstacles. Six months after giving birth, one-quarter of American women reported lower sensual feeling, satisfaction, and inability to achieve climax. Some 22% even described sex as painful.

This may be due to vaginal dryness occur following childbirth for up to three months caused by hormonal changes. In addition, lactating mothers are also more likely to have lower libido and dryness due to the reduction of estrogen.

Other factors include the worsening of woman’s body image may lower self-confidence and satisfaction in sex.

Instead of doom and gloom, sex after childbirth might be better in real life. According to a survey in the United Kingdom in 2016, most parents said sex after childbirth was better.

A whooping 94% of surveyed couples asked that they were satisfied with their post-partum sex life, while 60% reported better than pre-baby days.

This is also echoed in a Taiwanese study that demonstrated 89% of women were satisfied with their postnatal sex life. This might be assuring for new mums and dads who are a bit apprehensive and nervous about getting back in the saddle!

Everything changes after the arrival of the baby, including the sex life. Time is the most important factor to allow the body (and delivery wounds) to heal.

Time is also crucial to allow new parents to adapt to a new life with their new pride and joy, which mostly can enhance the intimacy. Resumption of sex can take many forms, one American study showed 74% of couples resumed sex in masturbation and 58% in oral sex before penetrative intercourse.

The Greek fabulist and storyteller, Aesop once said: “Slow but steady wins the race.” When eager readers who experience the new pride of parenthood, but fearful of resuming sex put Dr G on the spot for advice, his view is: “The race is over, so be slow and steady to enjoy your trophy!”

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