Global Health Asia-Pacific July 2022 | Page 25

Many women who are breastfeeding have painful , bleeding nipples , mastitis , or uncomfortable breast tissue .

The low-down on sex after pregnancy

There are no strict rules , but women are advised to take time to recover

Giving birth puts women under a lot of physical and emotional stress , so it ’ s natural that some may worry about how having intercourse afterwards could affect them .

How soon after giving birth is it safe to have sex is perhaps the first question that may cross the minds of many new parents . Though there ’ s no strict timeframe , many doctors advise women to wait four to six weeks after pregnancy , according to the Mayo Clinic . This is because the risk of experiencing a complication after delivery is highest during the first two weeks , while waiting will also provide time for your body to heal . After giving birth , women can have vaginal tears and dryness , feel fatigued , and experience pain and low sexual desire . Those who underwent surgery to repair a tear might need to wait even longer .
Dr Sherry Ross , an obstetrician and gynaecologist in California , told Health she advises women to have a “ pelvic rest ,” meaning that nothing should be inserted into the vagina and women should avoid douching , using tampons , and engaging in penetrative sex .
“ Usually at the six-week postpartum visit with your health care provider , you will be examined , started on birth control , and given the green light to have sex again regardless of the type of delivery you had ,” she said . But this is just a general timeframe , and some women may understandably want to wait longer as there are other challenges post-pregnancy that go beyond the healing of the womb .
“ Many women who are breastfeeding have painful , bleeding nipples , mastitis , or uncomfortable breast tissue ,” said Amy Hill Fife , a pelvic health physical therapist in the US , to Health . “ None of this improves the desire for sex .”
She added that the decision to have sex again might also depend on how much support women get to take care of the newborn as well as their level of fatigue . “ The new mom should ultimately be the one deciding when she is ready to have sex ,” she stressed .
When that moment arrives , some women may experience pain during intercourse , so over-the-counter pain relievers could be a good option to ease the discomfort , according to the Mayo Clinic , while the use of lubricants can help with vaginal dryness .
Another option is to skip vaginal penetration and experiment with other forms of intimacy , including massage , oral sex , and mutual masturbation . Talking with your partner about what you both like is perhaps the best way to go about it .
Women who have vaginal sex should also remember that birth control is often recommended to avoid another pregnancy . Bear in mind that those who are breast-feeding while still missing their menstrual periods may already have a high protection against pregnancy , but this natural form of breast-feeding contraception can vary . Women are advised to talk to a gynaecologist to discuss the most appropriate options for them .
GlobalHealthAsiaPacific . com JULY 2022