Health & Lifestyle

I’m a gynaecologist and this is how long you should wait to have sex after giving birth

While some women find it easy to bounce back into old routines after giving birth, others find it considerably challenging.

And when it comes to reacquainting with activities like sexual intercourse, listening to expert advice is best practice.

One doctor has revealed exactly how long you should wait to have sex after giving birth, particularly if avoiding pregnancy.

Dr Shazia Malik, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Portland Hospital in London, tells FEMAIL that women can get pregnant in as little as three weeks after giving birth.

She advised that women wait until all postpartum bleeding has stopped, which could typically take around three to four weeks.

Dr Shazia Malik, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Portland Hospital in London , tells Femail that women can get pregnant in as little as 3 weeks after giving birth (stock image)

Dr Shazia Malik, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Portland Hospital in London , tells Femail that women can get pregnant in as little as 3 weeks after giving birth (stock image)

Dr Shazia explained: ‘When a woman can resume sexual intercourse after childbirth depends on various factors such as type of birth, complications and recovery.

‘Whilst there are no set rules as such – following vaginal birth, you should wait until any postpartum bleeding (lochia) has stopped.

‘This typically takes around three to four weeks. However, it’s important to note that everyone’s recovery is unique. 

‘Some people may need more time before feeling comfortable engaging in sexual activity again’.

For mothers who aren’t yet ready to conceive another child, the expert says it’s important to consider contraception if having sex after delivery.

She warns mothers to dispel old myths that say breastfeeding and delayed periods can protect against pregnancy, as they’re simply not true. 

She added: ‘It’s important to consider contraception if you wish to avoid pregnancy, as you can get pregnant in as little as three weeks after birth.

‘For most couples they won’t be ready for another baby so quickly. 

‘So discussing your contraceptive needs and choices, as well as getting contraception in place will allow you to enjoy sex without worrying’.

Dr Shazia recommends that couples wait at least 12 months before having another baby, especially if the mother has had a caesarean birth.

However, there are other factors to consider before re-engaging in sex, such as injury to the body and infections.

The doctor says having sex within two weeks of delivery can increase a mother’s chance of getting an infection or haemorrhaging, so it’s advisable to wait.

‘If you had a tear or episiotomy and needed stitches, it will take at least four to six weeks to heal properly’ said Dr Shazia.

‘So it’s best to wait until you’ve fully healed to avoid pain or infection’. 

An episiotomy is a cut made by a medical professional near the vaginal opening to allow enough space for a baby to be born.

She added: ‘In the case of a Caesarean section (C-section), women should wait until the wound has completely healed.

‘This usually takes around six weeks. It’s important to speak to your midwife or a healthcare professional to ensure that you are ready and address any specific concerns you may have’.

‘Your six-week postnatal check-up is a great opportunity to be examined and get the all clear to resume your sex-life, and make sure you have contraception in place’. 

Aside to the physiological changes that occur after child birth, Dr Shazia reminds women that sex should be pleasurable, and that it may take a while before you’re ‘in the mood’.

‘The hormonal changes which occur after delivering your baby are huge,’ said the expert.

‘This can make you feel dry or sore vaginally – so taking time, using lubrication, and feeling ready are crucial in making sure that sex is comfortable and enjoyable. 

‘Breastfeeding in particular drops your oestrogen levels further, so using lubrication can be really helpful.  

‘Also, it takes time to recover from giving birth however you deliver, and along with lack of sleep, you may not be in the mood for quite some time’. 

She adds there’s ‘no normal’ for women and waiting until you’re physically and emotionally ready is key to a vibrant sex life.

Dr Shazia said: ‘Every woman is different, so it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider who can provide personalised advice based on your health, recovery, and any specific circumstances’.

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