How To Avoid Re-Tearing After Childbirth, Cuz Ouch

Postpartum sex can be a touchy subject for couples, especially if the mother experienced childbirth trauma. Generally speaking, a woman’s body needs to go through some major healing after pregnancy and childbirth. (Just think about how many ways a woman’s body changes, shifts, stretches and in some cases, rips, while growing and delivering a human.) Many new moms find that things that felt good pre-baby, don’t feel so good post-baby. The biggest one being sex. If you experience a birth trauma, you may wonder, can you re-tear during sex after childbirth?

Of course, no new mom is jumping back into bed immediately after giving birth. Parents noted that the majority of women who experience uncomplicated, vaginal births are given the green light to have sex at six weeks postpartum. This time off gives the body a chance to heal and be done with the post-birth, uterine bleeding, or lochia. As explained in the article if you have sex while the lochia is still being discharged from the body, the risk of infection is higher, so doctors advise couples to wait until this period is over.

But, again, that’s for an uncomplicated birth. Some women tear vaginally during the birthing process and will have to be a little more cautions when returning to sex. There are different types of tears that range in severity. Healthline noted that a first degree tear is small and involves the skin around the vaginal opening or perineal skin. A second degree tear involves the perineal muscles between the vagina and the anus, as explained on the same site. Lastly, a third degree tear involves perineal muscles to the anal muscles, and may even require surgical intervention in the months following childbirth.

Additionally, many women undergo episiotomies. An episiotomy occurs when a doctor makes an incision in the perineum in order to prevent extensive vaginal tearing during birth, according to the Mayo Clinic. It used to be thought that an episiotomy would heal better than a natural tear, but new research discussed on the site explained that it’s simply not the case.

Given the research available, there is nothing that definitively says a woman can re-tear if she has sex after giving birth, That being said, it’s possible and here’s why: all women can tear during sex. In general, Women’s Health noted that vaginal tears or cuts are common during sex and can happen for many reasons. (However, Women’s Health noted that lack of lubrication is mostly to blame.) And because, as written on Healthline, postpartum vaginal dryness occurs, the risk of a re-tear exist. If a postpartum woman chooses to have penetrating intercourse, whether she has a pre-existing tear or not, there is a chance she could get a tear in a new spot or re-tear, just based off the fact that she is most likely experiencing vaginal dryness and a lot of women (postpartum or not) get them.

There are two ways to avoid sexual injuries in postpartum women. One way, as outlined on the aforementioned Healthline site, is to use a lot of lubrication. Another way to avoid an issue is to try new positions. Practicing sexual positions that put the woman in charge, so she can effectively control how much penetration she’s getting, at which angle, and how fast, is a good way to ease into sex.

Lastly, the way to avoid a sexual injury if you’re freaked out about hurting something or re-injuring yourself is to say “no.” You can say “no” to your partner and explain to them what you’re feeling. If you have an understanding, empathetic, and patient partner, they’ll respect what’s going on with you and wait until you are truly ready again.