It's the second full week of September, and that means it's Sexual Health Week! While principal in every era of life, sexual health during the postpartum period oftentimes goes unmentioned–yet, this period exists for many women as an unknown limbo amongst recovery, sanitation, satisfying partners (and yourself), and more. Once again, we’ve teamed up with Dr. Sonya Ye, our Chief Health Officer and resident physician OB/GYN, to answer the top six inquiries that will prepare you for sexual health post-birth.
Q: I'm worried that I won't be able to satisfy my partner during postpartum. What should I do? How long should I wait to have sex again?
A: This is a common concern for new parents! You and your partner will likely be focused on your recovery and care for the little one, which may leave you both feeling uncertain or worried about your intimacy as a couple.
As a baseline, it’s recommended to wait at least 6 weeks postpartum to have sex, to allow your body to heal. Then, as with any sexual encounter, it’ll be important to gauge how you’re feeling emotionally & physically to decide when you’re ready. During this time, try to clearly communicate what you are feeling and experiencing to set healthy expectations together.
Also, consider other forms of intimacy, such as cuddling up while watching your favorite show, giving massages to each other, or even enjoying precious moments together as a new family - these are just a few ways you can enjoy that intimacy without the physical strain of sex.
Q: Contraceptives postpartum…what should I use?
A: There are plenty of great contraceptive options to use post-birth, however some can be used right away while others require you to wait a few weeks before use. Options such as condoms, an arm implant, injection, IUD, and the progestin-only pill can all be used, inserted, or taken immediately after a vaginal or cesarean birth. Others, including cervical caps, diaphragms, and combined hormonal pills are recommended to use 4-6 weeks after giving birth. Alongside these many options, it is important to note that breastfeeding can act as a temporary birth control as it prevents ovulation–but only for a limited time, and with regular, consistent breastfeeding! Be sure to have another contraceptive method on hand by the time you receive your first monthly period.
Q: Can I get pregnant right after giving birth?
A: Yes, yes, yes! Though determined by how quickly your body starts ovulating again, you can get pregnant within a few weeks after giving birth. Moreso, it is possible to become pregnant before you even have your first menstrual cycle post-birth. As such, be sure to invest in one or more forms of contraceptives–unless you’ve talked to your doctor regarding close-interval pregnancy risks, and are ready to have another!
Q: How should I properly sanitize down-there post-birth?
A: Post-birth, your body will require proper hygiene for comfort and to ease pain, and for any tears to heal. As such, follow these tips:
With the tips above, we mustn't forget that hemorrhoids happen. To prevent or mitigate, be sure to eat a fiber-filled diet and drink lots of fluids.
Q: What is the best position to be in post-birth during sex?
A: While positioning will depend on what makes you most comfortable, positions where you are able to be on top are recommended. In these ways, you are able to have control and make sure it feels good and relaxed. Alongside this, if you had a cesarean, on-top positions will ease any weight or discomfort off of your scars. If anything feels wrong, don’t hesitate to adjust or stop sex altogether–this is a time of trust and love, so don’t sacrifice your well-being for the sake of sex.
As you begin this new stage of life–entering parenthood, or welcoming another little one to your world–don’t forget of take care of yourself and your sexual health. Use the answers above to your advantage to guide yourself into recovery, quality communication, and comfortability in your sexual health during the postpartum period.