Will having a baby physically change sex?
June 9, 2008 5:41 PM   Subscribe

Would having a baby change sex forever? (more info, not for the squeamish, inside)

I really like my sex life now. But I keep reading and/or hearing that vaginal birth stretches things out down there in a way that changes sex forever. I'm not interested in vaginal rejeuvination surgery.

If you are a woman who has had a baby (vaginal delivery), or a man who has had sex with a woman both before and after she did so, is sex very different afterwards? Is it less pleasurable? And if there is a difference, how much of a difference is it? Does the vagina spring back, so to speak, or is there only so much that Kegel exercises can do?

Finally, if you are a woman who had a caesarian section, or a man who has had sex with a woman who delivered that way, did you notice any physical change during sex?

Just to be clear, I understand that having a child can have an effect on sex for other reasons, and that having kids can be worth it even if there is a lasting physical effect in this area. This question is exclusively about the physical effects of a vaginal or caesarian birth.

If you prefer to reply anonymously, I can be emailed at gonowgo@gmail.com. Thanks!
posted by Go, now. Go! to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

I can't believe I am answering this...

After childbirth, after breastfeeding, etc etc....

Way better. Way, way better.

Initially however, at least in my case, hormonal changes because of breastfeeding did affect enjoyment. Not totally bad, just different.
posted by konolia at 5:52 PM on June 9, 2008

I had a vaginal delivery over 3 years ago, and after we got clearance from the doctor at the 6 week post-delivery appointment.. I was worried that I was "loose". My husband reassured me that I wasn't, and that it was just as pleasurable as before.
But we both noticed a few changes.
We couldn't have sex in the same positions. Suddenly, certain positions hurt me so much that I had pain shooting up my abdomen. I could actually feel like my uterus had tilted, but we work around it and have discovered fun new positions.
To me, sex is so much better after having a baby than it ever was before. It feels so incredibly good, and the sensitivity has heightened.

My hormones had changed dramatically, but when we do "the deed" it's much nicer. Now if you excuse me.. all this talk about sex makes me need to attack my husband.

On preview: I'm with konolia.. breastfeeding was a hot issue with hormones and sex drive. It was almost non-existent for me.
posted by czechmate at 5:59 PM on June 9, 2008

I'm with Konolia, it's better, at least after the hormones settle down.

But, how much of that is physical and how much of it is psychological, I could not say. I feel like I have more control over my vaginal muscles, like I'm more aware of their abilities, but that may be a purely mental state.
posted by padraigin at 6:00 PM on June 9, 2008

Bloke here.

Vaginal forceps delivery, resulting in a decent amount of stitches, that frankly I wasn't brave enough to view at the time or discuss in any real depth afterwards. Eek!

But sex now is not noticeably different. Just considerably less of it.
posted by puffmoike at 6:27 PM on June 9, 2008

My wife had a Caesarian (both times). Sex was nonetheless somewhat different. Doesn't seem any different from my perspective, really, but she reports certain positions (particularly rear entry) are now noticeably more pleasurable.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:41 PM on June 9, 2008

I had a c-section. Sex is just as good as it was before. Took some months to get here, but our sex life recovered just fine.
posted by crazycanuck at 6:43 PM on June 9, 2008

New mom, and gory details, here.

First off, sex is still great -- really! And we didn't (couldn't) even wait the full six weeks post-partum. My bits and pieces really truly did go back into shape just fine, despite squirting out an 8 lb 8 oz baby boy. Bodies are cool like that. Lots of Kegel exercises in the third trimester probably helped, too.

But upon resuming the love train, we did need to go slooooowlllllyyyy when getting into a rhythm for the first few months after childbirth -- not because of stretched-out-ness, but rather quite the opposite! That was probably due to two factors. The first is that (gory detail alert!) I had had a slight upwards tear (towards the urethra) that had to be stitched after childbirth, and one or two other abrasions that had to be repaired, and things were probably a tad swollen for about three to four months. (That's what happens when your child decides to come out with his fist next to his face, a.k.a. "nucheal hand". Lets just say he scraped the guardrail a bit.)

The second issue is that the hormone changes due to breastfeeding can really affect things in the liquidity department, if you're not careful to keep super-hydrated all day. Heck, I've even noticed that even my contact lenses dry out faster now! But I'm sure you know how to fix something simple like that, if needed.

Your body parts are elastic. Your free time after having a baby, not so much.
posted by Asparagirl at 6:49 PM on June 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm Asparagirl's husband and I approved this message.
posted by Doctor Suarez at 6:49 PM on June 9, 2008 [23 favorites]

The women I've had sex with who'd delivered children vaginally have been noticeably more vaginally orgasmic; some have had palpably more texture to the anterior or dorsal wall of the vagina - where in a nulliparous woman you'd expect to find a little ridged G-spot, that whole side of their vagina was textured and sensitive. Now that you ask, those were the "loosest" among them (and I tried to find a nicer word there!) but their responsiveness (and libido) made them more fun.
posted by Now I'm Prune Tracy! at 7:03 PM on June 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I just wanted to thanks folks for the responses so far; this is the sort of anecdotal information I was looking for, and in general it's encouraging.
posted by Go, now. Go! at 7:14 PM on June 9, 2008

Very, very different, permanently and irreversibly.

I wouldn't at all call it a qualitative improvement, but definitely a different experience that I would characterize as "softer." I didn't find that off-putting although it was quite a change.

There was a period of about three or four years where it was less fun for everyone involved for physical reasons that include but are not at all limited to "fit", and then another run of years where things improved again and were more regularly enjoyable, although I still look back on the pre-childbirth days with more than a little fondness.

Kegel exercises made a tremendous difference in terms of recapturing some of the fun for both of us. I can't recommend Kegels highly enough for any sexually active woman, and especially so for a mother. I'm not in a position to tell you how much they'll improve things for you, but regardless of your reproductive status if you do nothing else for the satisfaction of your partner, do Kegels.

Quantitatively speaking, having children was a complete disaster. "Considerably less of it" is in my case an understatement of epic, rant-inducing proportion. Exhaustion, priorities, frame of mind, emotional state, and interruption pretty much devastated the sex life, and only the interruption aspect goes away with time. Because some aspects of the awesomeness -- orgasmic difficulty, stamina, but lubrication is a factor as well -- have not returned to the physical act even a decade later, frequency is way, way down and looks to stay that way.
posted by majick at 7:18 PM on June 9, 2008

I think the best sex we've had as a couple was while we were trying for number two. There were definitely a few bumps in the road after both deliveries. After the first, I was very sore and not feeling like I could be as energetic, and I didn't like positions with more forceful penetration. But that passed after not too long, certainly things were back to normal within a year or we wouldn't have been so excited about trying for the second one.

And breastfeeding was a big turn-off for me. My breast and nipples must get attention for me to orgasm, and they were too tender for a long time. Plus, the hormones dry you out, although a good lube will help there.

But I am so much more aware of my body's rhythms now, in a way that I wasn't until I was trying to conceive and trying to get pregnant. Now, I know when I'm ovulating and can tell that sex will be great for me. Or that it sucks for me just before my period. I never paid attention to that before I got pregnant.
posted by saffry at 7:22 PM on June 9, 2008

My wife and I have had two kids in the last 3 years and she's now pregnant with out third.

Both our kids were born vaginally, and there was only a very minor internal tear with the first. After both our kids were born we couldn't even wait for the standard 6 weeks... I'm not sure if we even waited six days (we have impulse-control issues).

After our first child, sex was quite different for almost a year. Chiefly, my wife had a hard time reaching orgasm, as basically everything that used to work before childbirth didn't work at all anymore. Certain positions, rear-entry in particular, became more uncomfortable than pleasurable. We did our best to work around this but it was challenging.

Oddly enough, after the birth of our second child, my wife's body reverted to the way it was before our first child. It was like the first kid knocked something out of place, and the second kid knocked it back into place. If the third one does what the first one did, we may have to think about having a fourth.

Through it all there has been no real change in terms of tightness, or cosmetic appearance or what-have-you. The biggest difference that has remained is that now when my wife has an orgasm it feels about ten times stronger than it used to. So you might have that to look forward to.
posted by wabbittwax at 7:28 PM on June 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

man who has had sex with a woman both before and after she did so

Forceps delivery and 27(!) hours of labour, and no, no negative impact beond the recovery period and general child-related tiredness.
posted by rodgerd at 7:41 PM on June 9, 2008

I am a guy. This is a twice removed anecdote. A friend of a friend's husband's mother is a midwife and she had the husband do all sorts of massaging and warm towels before and during the birth. Apparently the birth was horrific for a variety of reasons, but the wife had no tearing whatsoever. I imagine that highly conditioned muscles and tissue would have a much easier time going back to normal.

Along the same line, there's a device called epi-no (referring to episiotomy, not epidural) that can be used for conditioning. (I imagine gentle fingers, hands, feedback, exercises, and lots of patience work just as well, too.) The amazon link says it's unavailable, but I'm sure there's additional info elsewhere if you google. ymmv, and maybe it's not worth it relative to other uses of time, etc, etc. I have no first-hand accounts of the use of this thing.
posted by zeek321 at 8:24 PM on June 9, 2008

My wife "bounced" right back after child birth. It felt a little "looser" afterwards at about the 2 month mark, but, now, 2 and a half years out, I can't discern any difference. It was a vaginal birth with some tearing and stitches. She was 29 when she gave birth.
posted by trbrts at 8:28 PM on June 9, 2008

I've had four vaginal births (around 8 pounds each). I had sex pretty quickly after the first baby, I think within 24 hours, maybe as long as 48 hours after, leading to the infamous "hotdog in a hallway" comment. Now I know it takes about a week for me using kegels to get back to my normal tightness. I haven't noticed a difference in sex before/after birth. Sex DURING pregnancy was awesome though. A close friend had a twelve pound vaginal delivery and it took her a bit longer to recover but she and her husband say it feels like it did before the birth.
posted by saucysault at 8:30 PM on June 9, 2008

The biggest change for us is lack of spontanaiety - we used to have "naked" days on weekends when we would just hang out in the buff, and get some lovin' goin' when the mood struck us.

We haven't noticed any physical affects. I will admit that my drive diminished for the first 3 months after my daughter's birth. I was breastfeeding and I just wanted my own space ... I was just all "touched out" by the end of the day.
posted by Ostara at 10:04 PM on June 9, 2008

Two c-sections here and I found for the first few months after our second, sex was less comfortable because I was dryer (we don't use lube, just never have). I was also very tired and stressed and had some PND so it was probably much more psychological than physical. Once I got beyond that, sex was (and is) just like before. In the months post-partum I had very sensitive breasts and nipples and I don't like that sort of stimulation as much now because of it.
posted by tracicle at 11:48 PM on June 9, 2008

There's an article in the June issue of Elle magazine that deals with this exact topic. I think the magazine has Rhianna on the cover?
posted by Violet Hour at 11:49 PM on June 9, 2008

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