The Real Lowdown on Post-Partum Sex: The Motherology Truth About Post-Partum Sex From the Front Lines of Pelvic Rehab
While we are glad that a recent NY Times article highlighted the topic of post-partum sex, we believe the article may perpetuate several misconceptions. Please read the TOP 5 myths concerning post-partum sex and get the real truth from the pelvic floor physical therapy experts in this field.
Myth # 1- Post-partum women are routinely having sexual intercourse before or after 6 weeks of childbirth.
In our clinical experience as physical therapists that treat new moms, a very small minority of post-partum women are having penetrative intercourse at 6 weeks post-partum and we definitely advise against sex prior to a women’s post-partum check-up. The author of the NYT article admitted that their sample was not randomized and therefore may be an inaccurate representation of the general public and we can tell you for sure that most women are not resuming sex that early. We can base this statement on the thousands of new moms we have treated over many years.
Most women in our experience are first attempting vaginal intercourse anywhere from 12 weeks to 1 year following birth. Reporting a non-random sample is bound to make women feel anxious or guilty about their inability to have sex or lack of interest in intercourse.
Myth #2- Simple patience and waiting for things to get better will resolve your post-birth sexual pain because this is part of being a new mom.
At Renew Physical Therapy, we see this scenario every day. A woman goes for her six- week post-partum visit and is given the green light for sex. However, when she tries to have intercourse, she experiences severe pain or is unable to accommodate her partner’s penis or dildo. The new mom becomes confused and upset, because her physician told her she is completely healed. So what happened?
Often in birth, a woman will require stitches for a perineal tear or an episiotomy. This can result in inflexible scar tissue. Although the perineum is deemed as “healed” at 6 weeks (meaning there is wound closure and no sign of infection), physicians and midwives may not account for the effect that scar tissue has on vaginal elasticity and sexual relations.
Whenever there is a tear or incision, scar tissue develops to close the wound. Although scar tissue is similar in composition to the tissue it is replacing, scar tissue is not as flexible. Just think of working with your pelvic scars like you would want to work on the flexibility of a scar covering the knee joint.
Myth #3 – All women are loose down there after childbirth.
This is one of the biggest misnomers out there. After a childbirth that results in perineal tears, episiotomies, and/or and instrumentation (forceps and vacuum extraction), the result can be not only vaginal pain but also muscle spasms. We find that most new mothers suffer from pelvic floor muscle spasms as part of the healing response. These new moms will benefit from pelvic physical therapy that includes intra-vaginal massage, perineal scar releases, and reverse kegels exercises. In our post-partum Renew PT Femphysique PeogramTM we teach women how to rehab their own pelvic floor muscles. This specialized therapy heals the pelvic muscles back to their divine state so sex can become pleasurable again. This unique care is critical for the new mom on many levels but most importantly our therapy help woman reclaim their sexual power, helping women to feel like themselves again.
Myth #4 – I had a Caesarian so I won’t have any sexual problems.
Caesarians are major surgeries, resulting in scar tissue and scar pain. Caesarian births result in damage to the abdominal fascia and this fascia is intimately connected to the pelvic floor muscles. Many times Caesarians result in pelvic floor muscle spasms and poor pelvic floor coordination. Treating the scar and rehabilitation of the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles is critical for these women too. Many times we treat the scar and the sexual pain goes away because the scar was referring pain to the pelvic floor muscles.
Myth #5 – “Pelvic Pressure” is a normal by product of motherhood.
Pelvic pressure or feeling like something is falling out of the vagina (prolapse) after childbirth is not normal and can contribute to sexual pain. These feelings can be addressed first without surgery by seeing a trained women’s health physical therapist. Many times sexual pain as result of pressure or prolapsed organs can be eliminated by strengthening the pelvic floor muscles .
In conclusion we would like to see the day where all post-partum women are routinely sent to see physical therapists after childbirth. The French do this for their women why – don’t we do the same here in the United Sates? The French call it “Perineal Re-education” maybe we could call it the “Motherology Program”.
Click Here for a link to the NYT article “Sex and Intimacy After the Baby Arrives”
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