Sex after giving birth


  • Ask Dr G
  • Sunday, 07 Sep 2014

Mother Teresa once said: “Love begins by taking care of the closest ones- the ones at home.” I absolutely agree with this philosophy.

True love is the selfless act of giving and unconditional thoughts of sharing. If the act of love is unintentionally causing harm, then the circle of love is broken and may cause permanent and irreversible damage.

Many of us may underestimate the most intimate act of love, the sexual bond, can result in any adversity. Of course, sexually transmitted infections, contracted after promiscuity, may result in hurting your love ones. On the other hand, the simple act of sex after childbirth; may also occasionally result in unnecessary anxiety and apprehensions amongst couples with new arrivals at home.

So, how soon can couples engaged in sex after childbirth? What are the issues men and women face when rushing into intimacy too soon? Is there such a “thing” as too soon? Let’s use this opportunity to answer an email from Curious, a proud Dad (for the second time) and an anxious Husband.

 

Hi Dr. G,

It's my 2nd time writing to you. My wife recently gave birth about 6 months ago (our 2nd child) and we resume our intercourse when our 2nd child is 5 months old. Prior to that, we have not engaged any physical intercourse for close to 7-8 months especially during her final trimester.

Now, in the first few time of intercourse, my wife vagina will bleed a little bit. I'm guessing maybe it's due to her natural birth and the skin is still recovering.

After multiple attempts, there is no more bleeding but instead there are some green colored discharge.

I don't recall we have such matter during our 1st childbirth few years back.

Is this normal for my wife? She had her PAP smear done before we were given the all clear and the doctor said she was infection-free and recovering to normal. 

Is it possible that my penis is dirty or having infection? I'm not sure what type of doctors that we should see? Is this problem lies with my wife or I?

Please help! 

From

Curious

 

First of all, an apology is in order for the late reply. I am sure the abstinence before birth has been traumatic enough, and now the added unease of damage from the possibilities of rushing into sex postpartum is the additional angst and concerns.

You may be aware of the six weeks rules many doctors tell you to abide by. In reality, there is no real scientific evidence to support the six weeks interval post partum is the right timing to return to “normal” sex life. Having said that, some studies had revealed the cervix would have already closed and most vaginal lacerations would have healed two to four weeks after vaginal delivery.

Of course, it is not just the sexual organ we must focus on; the readiness of the new mother is an absolute vital factor to take into account. Some women may not be emotionally ready to resume intimacy due to lifestyle changes. The newborn will often take a toll of the amount of sleep, and surely have negative impact on the sexual desire. In some extreme circumstance, the women may feel irritable and fatigue as the result of postpartum depression.

If the new mom is breastfeeding, the hormonal alteration will induce dry and tenderness of the vagina. This can cause significant discomfort and bruising during penetration. Some women may also experience infections of the birth canal, causing pain and discharge, following the first sexual contact.

Abnormal feminine secretion after birth is often greenish or yellowish in nature. Such discharge may be associated with cervicitis (Infection of the cervix), Salpingitis (Infection of the fallopian tube) or endometritis (Infection of the inner lining of the ureterus).

“Dirty” penis indeed can be the etiology of vaginal infections. However, “dirt” is a spectrum of descriptions ranging from, normal skin “contamination” or the “filth” of the sexually transmitted gonorrhea or chlamydia. Naturally, only Curious himself is aware of what is the degree of “dirtiness” his sexual organ.

Apart from bacterial or fungal infections causing postpartum infections, bacterial vaginosis can also result in itchiness and discharge after birth. This is a non-infectious condition due to the imbalance of bacteria from the vagina. Rarely, retained foreign bodies such as placenta or tampon may also be the cause of contagion and discharge. Although Mrs. Curious had undergone examination before, I genuinely think she will benefit from a second checkup.

Winston Churchill once said: “I never worry about action, but only worry about inaction!” After five months of “inaction”, I am sure the “action” is going to do more good than bad for your relationship. So, Curious, Dr. G’s advice is “Keep Calm and Carry on!”

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