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What Happens to Your Body After Childbirth

What Happens to Your Body After Childbirth

Sex may be painful for as long as a year after giving birth

"For many women, it hurts to have sex for quite a while after birth and it can be very distressing," says Dr. Greenfield. "With their first and second babies, a lot of women can have pain during sex for as long as six months to one year afterwards."

Painful sex after childbirth is really variable and can even occur if you've had a C-section, Dr. Greenfield says. Some of it comes from the general trauma to the vaginal area during childbirth, or the fact you may have had stitches after a tear or episiotomy, but it can also be caused by hormones. The key is to know that it's normal and that it won't last forever.

If having sex after childbirth is painful, talk to your partner about it. Using a personal lubricant might help, or you can try oral sex, manual sex, or being on top, which allows you to steer your partner away from sore spots. If you're still finding it painful, talk to your doctor to see what they might recommend, says Dr. Greenfield. But whatever you do, don't just put up with it. "The purpose of sex is pleasure and if it's not pleasurable, wait a little longer and try other ways of connecting intimately without intercourse."

Meet our expert:

Dr. Marjorie Greenfield is a practicing board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist and fellow of the American College  of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG). She is currently associate professor on the full-time faculty at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Dr. Greenfield's writing career started in 2000, when she became director of obstetrics and gynecology for the Dr. Spock Company, a health and parenting multimedia enterprise. While working with the Dr. Spock team, she wrote Dr. Spock's Pregnancy Guide, published in 2003. Her new book, The Working Woman's Pregnancy Book, hit bookshelves in spring, 2008. Dr. Greenfield lives in the Cleveland area with her husband and their teenage son.