Your guide to postpartum love, including when you can have sex after a C-section and what sexual side effects to expect from surgical delivery.
So you've scheduled a C-section: You likely have several questions—What will my scar be like? Will I be able to lift heavy things afterward?—running through your mind, not least of which is, When can I have sex after a C-section?
- RELATED: How to Have Great Postpartum Sex
Intercourse will be off limits for the first six weeks after you deliver (trust us, it'll be the last thing on your mind, anyway!), which gives your incision time to heal and your cervix time to close and return to normal. Once your doctor gives you the green light at your postpartum checkup, your first time back in the saddle could be more uncomfortable than it would have been after having a vaginal delivery.
Why? A study published in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 2015 found that Cesarean delivery is associated with persistent pain during or after sex, a condition known as dyspareunia. The study's authors looked at which factors contributed to such pain, including breastfeeding, fatigue, postpartum depression, and even abuse.
More than 1,200 first-time mothers across Melbourne, Australia participated in the research. Most of those women who had resumed having sex by 12 months postpartum said they experienced pain the first time they did so after having their babies, and close to a fourth of those women still reported pain at 18 months postpartum.
But women in the group who had an emergency Cesarean section, vacuum extraction, or elective C-section had double the risk of pain during or after sex at 18 months postpartum as women who had spontaneous vaginal births with intact perineums or unsutured tears.
The good news is that having a C-section should not affect your sex drive, even though many new moms don't feel like making love again right away (and that's totally normal). For one thing, you're probably exhausted from your newborn's round-the-clock schedule. And the hormones you release while breastfeeding have also been known to temporarily lower libido, too.