A patient of mine, Ms. L, had a baby 6 months ago. Her doctor had given her the "OK" to have intercourse with her husband again several months prior. However, they have not been able to do so. She reported pain when they attempted intercourse and she could not figure out why. She wondered if sex was always going to feel this way.
Intercourse is supposed to be a pleasurable experience. However, when sex becomes painful it can seem impossible that it will ever feel good again. There are several potential causes of pain with intercourse, and often a women’s health therapist can offer help to return you to pain-free enjoyable sex!
There are several reasons why sex could hurt after having a baby. Let's examine them further.
Episiotomy and/or abdominal incisions that may cause scars
- Scars that bind down can make tissues less flexible and painful
- Women may feel as if tissue is tearing with insertion into vagina
- Having a bowel movement can even feel painful
Vulvodynia or Vestibulodynia
This is an irritation of the tissues of the perineum. The cause of pain is from the muscles surrounding the vagina and rectum may become painful as a result of this irritation.
Vaginismus, Levator Ani Syndrome
This is tightening or a spasm of the muscles around the vagina and/or rectum.
- Often times it can feel like penetration is not even possible. It is often described as your partner is hitting a “closed door."
- Vaginismus can vary from mild discomfort with intercourse to the man being unable to enter because of pain and spasm.
- Suggested reading on vaginismus: "Woman’s Experience of Sex" by Sheila Kitzinger. Ms. Kitzinger is a nurse/midwife and the mother of five daughters. Another good book is "A Woman’s Guide to Overcoming Sexual Fear and Pain" by Goodwin and Agroni.
How Can a Women's Pelvic Health Therapist Help?
We are specially trained therapists that can conservatively rehab the muscles of your pelvic floor. We educate you on ways to relax the pelvic floor muscles, regaining their full ability to move through a healthy range of motion again. We will also help you strengthen your core muscles to take some of the burden off of the pelvic floor. We will also examine proper body mechanics in caring for baby (lifting them up, changing them, etc) so as to not exacerbate the pain and weakness. In France, woman are referred to pelvic floor therapy automatically after having a baby -- how brilliant! As Claire Lundberg so eloquently shares, “Two months after our daughter was born, I summoned the courage to teach my vagina some new tricks.”
Why not teach your vagina some new tricks -- contact your pelvic floor therapist today!