Why The 6 Week Wait Is Actually Important

Most people know the deal when it comes to postpartum sex: it's advisable to wait until the six-week postpartum checkup before resuming sexual activity. That guideline has been repeated so many times it's basically set in stone. But can you have sex before the six week wait is over, or is that just asking for trouble? As with most everything related to postpartum recovery, the answer varies from person to person.

In general, waiting at least six weeks to resume sexual activity after giving birth is recommended for many reasons. Regardless of whether a woman has given birth vaginally or via C-section, the uterus and cervix need time to heal. More specifically, the site where the placenta attached is prone to infection and inserting anything into the vagina may bring bacteria to this susceptible area, according to Baby Center. By waiting six weeks, you give these places time to rest and repair.

Additionally, it's crucial to make sure the postpartum bleeding (AKA lochia) has stopped before resuming any type of penetrative sexual activity. If the lochia is flowing, the cervix is still open, and penetrative sex could introduce bacteria, according to Women's Health Matters. An infection from bacteria is the last thing any postpartum person needs.

Of course, sexuality is not always so easy to monitor in the real world, and some women do resume sexual activity sooner than others. This is not necessarily a bad thing. According to What To Expect, if the postpartum bleeding has ceased and a doctor specifically gives the go-ahead, then having sex sooner may be fine. The pace of an individual's recovery, as well as the presence of any complications or healing stitches, will influence this timeline. But sometimes, sex before the six week checkup is OK.

That said, you may crave physical intimacy when your body still has a long recovery to go. Everyone's return to sexuality is a little different, and that's to be expected. In the meantime, be kind to your healing body, bond with your new baby, and trust that your sexuality isn't going anywhere in the meantime.