Postpartum sex was one sexual experience on my list of “Things That No One Ever Told Me Was A Thing.” You can find so much information on the internet about trying to conceive or how to have sex while pregnant to help induce labor. But once your baby arrives, it’s as if the sex conversations disappear.
I get it, sex is a touchy subject, all the pun intended. Talking about sex comes with a lot of vulnerability and feeling as if we’re truly exposing ourselves literally and emotionally. For me, I really wish more people talked about sex. I believe the more we talk about it—how much we are or aren’t having, the good and the laughable experiences, etc.—the more we could normalize our experiences, especially surrounding postpartum sex.
Are you really ready to have sex again six weeks postpartum? Is it normal for your vagina to burn when you try for the first time after giving birth? What if I don’t have a sex drive at all—is something wrong? It’s been 6, 10, 14, 18 months now, and I still have a low libido—will this stay forever? I am so exhausted, how does anyone have time for sex after having a baby?
You can find so much information on the internet about trying to conceive or how to have sex while pregnant to help induce labor. But once your baby arrives, it’s as if the sex conversations disappear.
These were all questions that ran through my mind at one point or another, yet I didn’t feel like I could really ask my mom friends about any of them. It wasn’t until I started going to therapy for postpartum depression that I learned that not only were all of my questions normal but how I was personally feeling was too.
At 19 months postpartum, I am just now starting to have a regular interest in sex and intimacy with my husband. After a traumatic postpartum experience with my body, our first time was shortly after being cleared around eight weeks. It was not a pleasurable experience, and it left me in a lot of pain. From that point on, our sex life was sporadic at best up until now. This isn’t a narrative you ever hear about, and it wasn’t something my mom friends experienced—or if so, they weren’t willing to talk about it.
I think it’s time that we normalize talking more about postpartum sex, and our readers seem to agree. We asked our community of Everymoms how long it took them to begin having regular postpartum sex again and were completely surprised to see the flood of responses, some of which we’re sharing below. No matter where you are on your postpartum sex journey right now, you’ll likely see that you’re not alone.
Click on any of the five themes below to read more. We also always recommend reaching out to your doctor with any sexual health or wellbeing concerns.
I Felt Like I Had to for My Spouse / Body and Lifestyle Changes Make It Tough / I’m Still a Little Scared to Try Regularly / I Felt Ready Right Away / It Just Takes Time
I Felt Like I Had to for My Spouse
“It took me six months to want to. Before that it was rare, and only because I love my husband and knew he needed it. Plus, I felt like it was something I was supposed to do. But even now, a year later, the desire is not even close to what it was pre-baby. However, I do feel like I’m even more in tune with my body, so it’s better than it was. The main thing that helped was my husband being extra involved with the baby and housework. Not only did it alleviate stress from me, but it was a turn on! Haha” – Autumn M.
“Out of obligation: eight weeks, but desire, I’m six months postpartum with my second and still working on it …” – Keely H.
“Around 6-7 months postpartum, we started having regular sex again but really only because I felt like we should and they say sex begets sex. My libido didn’t come back, and things didn’t feel back to the way they did pre-baby until eight months. I never really had pain though, but I did do pelvic PT which I think helped a ton. Also, I weaned at like six months postpartum, and I think that helped.” – Isabella C.
Out of obligation: eight weeks, but desire, I’m six months postpartum with my second and still working on it …
“I am four months postpartum and have zero desire to be with my husband. We have [had sex] I think four times since. It took three times for it to not hurt/feel really uncomfortable … I was just trying to make him happy. I wonder if I will find that desire again. It’s hard to want to be intimate when you have a LO touching you all day and all you want is some space and time to be with yourself when they are sleeping—which is also the time when your partner wants to be with you. Uphill battle.” – Lauren P.
“I had a C-section, and once the doctor said I was in the clear, I pushed for it so I could feel like a good wife. It hurt so bad that first time! Then, I became disconnected from my husband, and it took a whole year after baby to connect with him again. I also went off birth control and got my libido back, and now I’m pregnant again from all the sex we had!” – Emily R.
“I was very lucky that I had a great birth experience and a vaginal birth with very minimal tearing, so physically, I felt ready to ease into things after the doctor’s all clear at six weeks … The one thing that did bother me is that I feel like the men that my husband spoke to about what to expect postpartum all gave him unrealistic expectations. I found it frustrating when he shared with me that they all said they didn’t even wait for the six weeks and just jumped back into it, whereas I have only met one woman who told me that was the case for her. I am curious to hear what women say about other forms of intimacy before they were ready for sex. At first, I was just tired and trying to find the energy and time to shower, but I know my husband wanted it.” – Rebecca M.
“I struggled (and still struggle with!) sex post-baby. My son is 14 months old, and my husband and I are just now getting to the point where we are having sex more regularly. I can say definitively that the first 10 months or so I never really wanted to have sex. I was either too tired or honestly still just not feeling like myself since I was still breastfeeding. My husband was very understanding, but probably when our son was getting to 4-5 months he was definitely starting to feel a little bit frustrated. He has always been very understanding, but I feel a lot of guilt for not being able to fulfill that for him. Especially because he basically went from feast to famine. When I was pregnant, we had tons of sex for most of it. We had a good convo about it around my son‘s first birthday, and now that I’m nursing less and we are making it a point to spend more time together, the intimacy is coming back more naturally.” – Melissa C.
Body and Lifestyle Changes Make It Tough
“It’s been 18 months, and our sex life is still not normal. Birth was traumatic. We had some huge life changes on top of becoming parents (I had a heart procedure after birth, and we moved twice). Then at six months, I was hit with intense PMADS and am still recovering. All of that feels like there just isn’t space or energy left for intimacy; I’m just completely spent. I know that sounds awful, but it’s the truth. ” – Kara V.
“It took me around five months to feel OK with sex. There was definitely a physical component; I had a very small tear that the stitches popped out of, and my OB just kind of dismissed it. I didn’t know at the time what I was really looking at, so I didn’t know … I didn’t heal correctly. The pain from that wasn’t the most difficult part for me. It was mainly emotional, and it took me a solid five months of trying to have sex before I stopped crying either during or after. I kept thinking something was wrong with me, but my husband was super supportive. I think the turning point for me was accepting that sex might not be what it was before baby and that was OK. One year after baby and our sex life is great. Things feel a little different sometimes, and that’s OK. My husband and I have been very open with each other and used it as an opportunity to relearn what the other likes. It’s been pretty fun!” – Hannah W.
[It] feels like there just isn’t space or energy left for intimacy; I’m just completely spent. I know that sounds awful but it’s the truth.
“I had sex probably after four months, [but] to have the actual desire [to have sex, it] took a lot longer—maybe close to a year. I was still breastfeeding and extremely exhausted. My baby didn’t sleep through the night, and I don’t have any family that lives in town. I would take sleep over sex any day of the week. Also, I was and still am self-conscious of my boobs. I was always very proud of my perky boobs, and they’re just not the same, and it makes me sad.” – Erika E.
“I had a fairly traumatic birth which resulted in a C-section, a colicky baby, and suffered from PPD. I finally saw a therapist about six months postpartum which started to turn things around in my journey back to feeling myself again. By 12 months, I was wanting to have regular sex again, and by 17 months postpartum, I found out unexpectedly I was pregnant again! So, that desire has gone away during the first trimester. My husband and I connect well emotionally, but the physical connection has been difficult, and I think will continue to be with this new pregnancy.” – Victoria A.
I’m Still a Little Scared to Try Regularly
“I was pushing my baby out for about five hours, and he still wasn’t coming out, so they used forceps which also didn’t work! So, they had to do a C-section which I had to be completely put out for. Then, I woke up in a room alone where I had to wait until I could see my husband and baby. When it came time for sex, I was healing in both areas. I knew it wouldn’t be comfortable, but I didn’t think I would cry! Long story short: I needed physical therapy! And I’m now feeling like I want to try and have sex, but I’m still scared. My baby is 14 months old.” – Anonymous
“[Currently eight weeks postpartum and] haven’t done it yet, but am preparing mentally for such once the doc gives me the clear post IUD settling. I’m terrified, emotionally and physically, but I just keep trying to focus on how good it will be to have the intimacy and connection with my husband. I need him as a fully linked partner more than ever.” – Jordan H.
I Felt Ready Right Away
“I was ready pretty much immediately. The surge in hormones plus seeing my husband jump into the father role so flawlessly made me want him—badly! So, we found other ways to be intimate for the first six weeks (AKA BJs). Our sex life has had its ups and downs since then; my PPA didn’t help, but I’d say it’s overall even better than before we had kids.” – Mallory S.
“With my first, I remember feeling ‘in the mood’ about two weeks postpartum, but we didn’t actually have sex until five weeks. After my second pregnancy—I had twins (vaginally) and a fair amount of complications—we had sex for the first time about six-ish weeks postpartum, but the first time I really was in the mood for it was about 9-10 weeks. Touch/intimacy is my love language, so sex has always been an important part of our relationship and why I felt it was important and wanted to get that part of my life back to normal quickly.” – Lindsay S.
Touch/intimacy is my ‘love language,’ so sex has always been an important part of our relationship and why I felt it was important and wanted to get that part of my life back to normal quickly.
“I had ALL THE EMOTIONS after I had my son! So high and so low. I was actually ready (mentally) to have sex right away but waited until my doctor cleared me for sex at six weeks. Minimal issues, we used a lot of lube, and it didn’t last very long.” – Kelsey W.
“I feel guilty that it wasn’t a struggle. It certainly wasn’t my biggest urge, but after six weeks when my doctor said we could, we went ahead. I was so glad I did, because once we started, I didn’t want to stop. I think it would’ve been much harder had we waited.” – Blakely D.
“Weirdly sex has been much better postpartum. I am way more sensitive, and I come way more frequently and faster. It really took until I was only breastfeeding two times a day to get to that point—maybe 9-10 months postpartum. We have less sex, but it’s been better 🤷🏻♀️. I am pregnant again. Last pregnancy, I could not have sex first trimester at all. This time around, even being a little morning sick, I have been horny. It’s totally not what I expected.” – Courtney B.
It Just Takes Time
“Before the birth of my first child, I was always easy to turn on, easy to reach climax, have multiple orgasms at once, etc. Actually, I considered it to be one of my secret superpowers, and I was proud of it … and yet, after the birth of my son vaginally, I was faced with complete dryness. At my six-week appointment, my doc gave an OK to get active. My husband was happy to hear it, but I was petrified. I told him I wasn’t ready, to wait at least a week or two. I felt like I was still wide open from birth down there. He was understanding. We waited, a week, two, three … he asked if everything was OK. I kept making excuses.
Eventually, I decided to give it a go at eight weeks. It was a disaster! It hurt, it stung. I felt like a virgin again (even then it didn’t hurt as much), and his penis felt like sandpaper. We tried two weeks later with lube … and it didn’t work out … Fast forward, it took about six months to feel the pleasure again. It still feels tighter than before birth, but I can finally enjoy it! Slowly, my body returned to normal. I would say just give it time. Your vagina went through a hell of a lot, give it some slack!” – Jenny
“Sex hurt during pregnancy, and then after my (traumatic) birth experience, it remained painful, and I was devastated. I felt so much shame and embarrassment that I couldn’t enjoy sex with my husband. Around that time, I asked my OB for a referral to a physical therapist, and it was there that I learned more about my body and sex than I had during any other medical experience. I completed a full program of physical therapy and can now comfortably have sex again. The desire is a difficult thing to reclaim, however, because it’s difficult now for me to trust it won’t hurt, and I’m really exhausted from full-time work and caring for our 1-year-old during the pandemic. I can feel myself becoming more interested in sex, but it’s been a slow process that’s required an actual significant amount of work to reclaim.” – Emily
Slowly, my body returned to normal. I would say just give it time. Your vagina went through a hell of a lot, give it some slack!
“I sobbed the first time we tried around 12 weeks due to pain and not feeling ready … a lot of it was normalizing my husband’s and my expectations. Men’s Health had a great article to prepare guys for what it’s really like, and I made him read it. [Sex] finally felt normal at around six months with lots of lube … and gentle penetration. At nine months, the desire came back, and around one year, it finally feels totally normal with no lube needed. Honestly, we feel so much more connected now. At one point around six months, we both cried during sex because it was such a release, and we felt so bonded. Stay the course, be gracious with yourself and your partner, and it gets better in your own timeline. Recommend a few visitors with a pelvic floor PT too!” – Elizabeth K.
“It took six months for me to start feeling the desire for intimacy. A half bottle of red wine also helped 😂 . Our first time went so well that we did it twice!” – Vane L.
“13 months! My husband stepping up and being more helpful with our son and the right dosage of CBD to calm me down [helped].” – Sabrina M.
“After both kids, it was about 8-12 weeks when we did. It’s kind of like jumping in the deep end and hoping for the best. It will be scary, and it might not be what you’re used to, but you have to just start trying. I HIGHLY recommend the KY liquid pods. If you’re breastfeeding, you might be dry down there (I am very!), and the pods make things liquidity from the inside like normal. You insert the pod like a tampon and wait 20 minutes until showtime.” – Shannieh
Read more: In Defense of Scheduled Sex