Many women who come to see me in clinic will report that sex has been painful when they tried it again after having their c section (often when it had never been painful before being pregnant). So if this is you, rest assured it is a common one, but the good news is there are lots of things you can do to improve things.
Why can sex be painful post C section?
There is no one definitive answer but i have some theories if you would like to check them out?
Vaginal dryness– after having a baby and especially if breastfeeding, the body is lower in Oestrogen. One of the roles of oestrogen is to keep our vagina more robust and moist! So vaginal dryness and atrophy (slightly shrunken vaginal tissues) is common whilst postnatal/breastfeeding and therefore sex can be more uncomfortable and sensitive. There are some really decent lubricants out there which can help with this alot. Links are below.
Protective guarding– Many women are concerned about their C scar and will adopt a protective “tensioning” of the abdominals and pelvic floor without realising. This tension/holding pattern will lead to a tightened, shorted pelvic floor. A pelvic floor that does`nt know how to relax anymore will make sex more uncomfortable, especially when trying to achieve penetration. So try massaging your tummy and your scar (see previous C section series post on this) as this can have a good knock-on effect for your pelvic floor to relax.
Breath holding- It also common to breath hold/breathe more shallowly after having a baby. The baby was high up under our diaphragm and our tummies were on a constant stretch, so sometimes we forget that we can re-claim that belly and breath deeply again. The diaphragm and the pelvic floor work together so if we don`t practice belly breathing now and again then our diaphragm is`nt going through its full range of movement and this can make the pelvic floor tight. So practice belly breathing – then try it during sex and see if it helps!
I think Postnatal Yoga is a great way to tick the breathing, stretching and pelvic floor relaxation boxes and this can usually be started between 6-12 weeks post c section.
Links to Lubes!
This one is compatible with latex.
This one is not compatible with latex, also great to use a a daily moisturiser