Postpartum intercourse is too painful. Any advice?

Our son is seven weeks old. We attempted intercourse last week, for the first time since the birth, and we tried again today. The pain is excruciating, even with the use of a lubricant and with me on top. My OB/GYN says it will get better with time. Should we continue to try despite the pain, abstain for more time or should we try to stretch out the vagina?


You have the sympathy of every woman who has given birth and the empathy of many. In other words, you're not alone here.

Pain is a useful signal that something is off and needs attention. It sounds like you heeded this and checked with your doctor. Any change in the pain or prolonged continuation would be reason to check back again.

So, with your doctor's clearance you are back to:

  1. Put out
  2. Hold out
  3. Stretch out

Let's consider the options:

  1. Put out. Not recommended. If something hurts don't do it.
  2. Hold out. Good choice. Before all the men collapse in a massive groan, let me hasten to explain that "holding out" refers to delaying intercourse and not all forms of sexual expression. Look at this as a golden opportunity to expand your sexual repertoire. Experiment. Try new things. Break the old routine. Your life is different, let your sex be different too. The game is to please your partner in ways never dreamed of before or to return to old forgotten favorites -- like making out. In time, intercourse will be part of this play, but by then you will have discovered many delightful new ways to get there.
  3. Stretch out. Worth consideration. Very, very tender, gentle massage by either of you may yield positive results.

I have a question for you. Were you hot to have sex at the magic six-week mark or were you doing it because the good doctor gave you the green light? Any further advice would hinge on your answer.

A closed cervix and healed sutures (what your doctor is checking for at the six-week checkup) do not mean that you are ready for intercourse. Saying that all women should have sex at six weeks postpartum is as crazy as saying that all babies should sleep through the night at six months. Some are ready, some aren't ready and some already did.

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