When will breastfeeding stop interfering with my sex life?

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By: Bosc d’AnjouCC BY 2.0
I have always enjoyed a really great sex life with my husband — pretty much right up until the birth of our daughter in August. After she was born, it took a while to get back into the swing of things. The problem now is that it hurts every time we try to have sex. I talked to my midwife about it and she said that it is going to hurt more than normal because I’m breastfeeding. I do have an IUD but she assured me that it wasn’t the problem and once I stop breastfeeding, it will go back to “normal.”

My daughter is almost six months old and it hasn’t gotten any better. I don’t want to avoid sex with my husband or prematurely stop breastfeeding her for my own comfort (especially since I went through a hell of a lot to keep breastfeeding her). My husband has been great about it and doesn’t mind if we go weeks without sex because there are other ways of being intimate, but I miss it. Has anyone else had this problem while breastfeeding? Does it really go away, and how long did it take it for you to be “normal” again? — theladybug.

Comments on When will breastfeeding stop interfering with my sex life?

  1. I too have been wondering this same thing. It hurts! Glad to know that it’s the breastfeeding and nothing is wrong. Interested to see what the comments will be. I could use some relief!

    • My dr warned me of this. It is painful due to hormones associated with breast feeding. It is completely normal but no one tells us because they want us to nurse.

  2. Oh gosh this is my life. I had no idea it was “normal” I thought I was just lurching from one horrific infection to another. You’ve put my mind at ease!
    Pain, pain go away. My son is a year old and I’m still having trouble 🙁 Sorry, no advice

  3. When you say it hurts, what do you mean? Dryness can be a problem associated with breastfeeding – lube it up! I’ve breastfed two babies (not tandem!) for a total of 3 years & have experienced dryness but not any other pain.

    • I agree with this… sex actually feels better now than it did before. I thought this article was going to be about how to have sex with a cosleeping breastfed baby (who is VERY aware of when I’m not right next to her in bed!), because that’s our challenge. (We’re working it out by actually scheduling sex… not the most fun or spontaneous thing, but hey, everything takes a bit more planning these days.)

      I just wanted to throw this out there, though, in case every pregnant woman reading this is now convinced that sex will hurt while breastfeeding. Everyone is different!

      • Sex also feels better for me! (But we have also had to use some lube because of dryness).

        Except for dryness, I can’t imagine why breastfeeding would make your crotch hurt? That seems like crazy medical advice from your midwife… wait until you stop breastfeeding for it to go back to “normal”?!? That could take years!

        Lube. Lube.

        I, too, thought this would be about sex while co-sleeping. My husband and I have occasional afternoon sex to combat this.

      • I, too, thought this would be about sex while co-sleeping. My husband and I also schedule sex. We keep things interesting though by changing other things up like location.

  4. I don’t remember when exactly but I think I started feeling more comfortable in sex when my son was about 9 months old, about 6 months after I stopped breastfeeding him. Sadly we weren’t able to breastfeed longer than the first 3 months, but c’e la vie, yes?

    I hope the pain doesn’t go away solely when you stop breastfeeding – sending good and painless thoughts your way, doll.

  5. I remember it being painful for me for at least the first few months. But even while I was breastfeeding my kiddo the pain went away probably around 6 months or so.

  6. Painful intercourse after childbirth could be a whole lot of things, so I would get a thorough gynecological exam. My midwife told me the same thing, and she was referring to the fact that your body might not produce the same lubrication while breastfeeding and it can cause sex to feel painful. Lube can be a lifesaver. That wasn’t my issue so she referred me back to my gynecologist, who can use a colposcope or ultrasound to look for muscle or ligament damage or lesions. Mine turned out to be a pulled pelvic ligament and I was prescribed physical therapy and the pain went away after a few months. I still breastfeed at 14 months and it hasn’t negatively affected my sex life, so keep on keeping’ on honey!

    • this 100%.

      If lube and a glass or two of wine dont help get thee to a mw/ob there is something else going on. And there are a few things that are not uncommon post partum that no one talks about.

      Breastfeeding can change your hormone balance which is why the dryness. Hormones can be a bitch even when you aren’t nursing. And these issues tend to disappear when you get your period back at the latest.

  7. First, I wanted to say that what you are going through is normal. And it may not take waiting until you are not breastfeeding for it to go back to normal – a bit of hope! 😉 Sex was painful for me for about a year and has been normal since, pain wise, sadly it seems the sex life of a mommy never goes back to the way it was until way later I think. My daughter is 2 and still nursing frequently and sex isn’t painful. You just have to wait it out and it sounds like your hubby is great.

    Also, I wanted to tell you that you are lucky to still want sex and that you actually miss it. I’m STILL waiting for my sex drive to come back like it used to be…not sure how long I’ll be waiting on that. :/

    anyway – good luck, just hang in there and keep nursing that baby! 😉

  8. I’m wondering exactly what/where the pain you’re dealing with is. I’ve had more pain ‘down there’ & thought it was due to my scar from the tearing/episiotomy. My OB/GYN seemed to think so too & prescribed a steroid cream for me to use. My estrogen levels stayed low as well (even long after I stopped breast feeding) and she gave me another cream for that. The creams seemed to help, but things still aren’t what they used to be & my daughter’s over 2yrs old now & we stopped breastfeeding around her 1st b-day.
    I don’t want to scare you, I’m still able to enjoy myself with him, but there’re still issues sometimes… and my desire is significantly reduced. I attributed that to my antidepressant, but I was on it before & during my pregnancy & didn’t have that issue.
    I, too, would love some answers. Especially as we’re trying for number two now!

  9. I think you may have gotten bad advice from your midwife. Other than the dryness others mentioned, there’s no biological reason that sex should hurt because you are breastfeeding.

    I breastfed my daughter for a year and had no pain with intercourse. However, she was born via c-section, so my lady parts didn’t undergo the changes that can accompany a vaginal delivery.

    I would seek a second opinion. There are anatomical things that might be going on if you had a vaginal delivery- scar tissue formed by a healing tear, etc. Or something unrelated to the birth- an infection or other cause.

    Breastfeeding shouldn’t mean painful intercourse. Do your best to be an advocate for yourself (and your marriage) and seek out other opinions.

    Wishing you a speedy return to previous really great sex life!

    • I’d like to second this, especially the part about it possibly being unrelated to the birth. It makes sense that it would be, but a full exam might rule out anything else; especially a something else that should not wait until you ween your little one.

      And I say this not to be alarmist at ALL, just someone who’s gone in to the regular doctor AND the lady doctor with one complaint that turned out to be related to something else I’d never thought of. Bodies are weird, crazy and wonderful things….

    • Unless your pain is related to dryness, I third this: there is no biological reason for pain during intercourse that’s related to breastfeeding.

      Breastfeeding just doesn’t cause pain typically. It may cause dryness, for which yes, lube! But just causing pain? No. I’d definitely investigate this more and get a second opinion.

    • My doctor told me to expect it to hurt because of hormones, and that some women even try an estrogen cream. Indeed it did hurt very badly with lubrication. It’s early for me so I will keep trying. Just remember your experience may have been a lucky one. Lots of women go through this.

  10. My daughter is now 16 months (we stopped nursing at 4 months) and sex is still painful for me. I’ve been to two different OBs about it and neither one could find anything wrong with me. So I don’t know if waiting it out works for everyone. Keep pursuing an answer.

  11. I’m going through the exact same thing! Lube doesn’t always do the trick for me, sometimes it makes it burn!!! BUT, I have found that climaxing BEFORE intercourse does wonders! So, you can either take care of business before hand or let your husband take care of it for you. Then, just start out slow.

    I feel bad for my husband. He’s been such a great sport. He’s gone from having to fight me off sometimes to just shy of begging. Some wine after baby has gone to sleep might help you relax a bit too. I found that anticipating the discomfort only made things worse.

    Good Luck!

  12. Sex should not be painful – anyone who tells you this is normal is mistaken.

    If sex IS painful, there’s something else going on – a pulled ligament, a tear, etc. The posters telling you to wait it out are right in a sense – given enough time, the body’s ability to heal is pretty awesome. But you don’t HAVE to wait it out, there are treatment options for most problems.

    Sadly, our medical system doesn’t pay much attention to the postpartum body. So you need to be your own best advocate and make sure you Gyn takes this seriously and thoroughly checks you out.

  13. I agree with the other posters – if it’s dryness, get some lube and get going : ) If its other pain, it’s much harder. Honestly, sex was painful for me until I “retore” with my second and insisted that my ob (rather than the very nice intern) stitch me up. After that, no problems. For me it was a very very uncomfortable pressure.

    Sorry I couldn’t be more help, but hopefully it’s good to know you’re not alone.

  14. I had a cesarean and had a lot of trouble getting used to intercourse after the birth. My midwives also said it is probably dryness due to breastfeeding. (like others have said) You probably aren’t ovulating and don’t have the natural lubrication that happens during regular cycles. I have found that it does get better over time especially if we try and do it more often! Personally, I find lubricants very irritating, so it’s been a challenge. It will get better, don’t give up!

  15. My baby is 7 months old and I haven’t had successful sex in about a year. We’ve only tried maybe 3 times since she was born. I started to feel pain and chickened out each of those times. We decided that we needed to take time and practice. But our baby will only sleep alone for 30 min bursts, so we don’t have the luxury of time. So no sex I guess. We don’t even try anymore.

  16. Oh my God! I had no idea this was a side effect of breastfeeding! My partner and I have only had sex once since our daughter was born and the pain was almost unbearable. I had a c-section, so I thought it was just the fact that we were using condoms for the first time in about a year. Good to know it’s normal!

  17. I experienced this too. Yes, it really will go away. Once my little one stopped breastfeeding during the day (he weaned himself at about 13 months) it got much better. At 15 months, when he stopped nursing during the night, the pain went away completely (and sex drive was back to normal). He still nurses before bed (he’s 22 months old) but since I’m producing very little milk it does not interfere with my sex life.

  18. I have 4 kids and after each one I had the typical “dryness” (I found the vaginal fluids were just less slippery) and lower sex drive while breastfeeding. And the one time I got stitches after a birth I had some tenderness there until it was completely healed. The only time I had actual pain during intercourse, was after my third baby who had been born posterier and actually gotten stuck in the birth canal for a few minutes due to a short cord and the cord being wrapped tightly around her neck. I’m not sure if her birth had anything to do with it, but for almost 9 months after her birth, I had pain deep inside (maybe the cervix?) every time we had sex. I’m not sure if it was a ligament or a partial prolapse or what, I did a ton of kegels and avoided positions where my spouse penetrated too deep (I couldn’t be on top, doggy style was touch and go) and eventually it just got better. It was a real drag though, I don’t even think I realized how much it annoyed me until after my 4th birth when I recovered very quickly and realized just how bad my recovery from my third birth had been.

    • Should have read this before I posted! It’s interesting that you had such an experience… I only have one child, and he was posterior. It was a LONG labour. Not having other post-partum experiences to compare it to, I thought the pain connected to intercourse was due to vaginal dryness. Lube didn’t help much though, so perhaps it was pulled or torn muscles/ligaments, and the time it took for that pain to dissipate was not related to a reduction in breastfeeding at all.
      Thanks for your post! Insightful.

  19. Lube. Lube and more Lube. I have a five month old son and my sex drive is pretty much in the toilet, more from being so busy than anything. But when we do get down to business, it sucked terribly until we brought home a bottle of astro glide.

  20. A note on lube: Maybe it’s just a grandma story, but I heard that it’s preferable to use your saliva (or the one of your partner) if you can. It’s more natural and causes less problems on the long run for your boby (Less baterial problems, no problem going back to not using it, etc) I use both and generally prefer saliva!

    • We totally subscribe to saliva-as-lube. Artificial lubes always wind up burning after we’ve been going at it for a bit, but saliva seems to provide just enough lubrication to get things going on their own, and there are never any weird complications because it’s totally natural! (Note: We don’t have a baby yet, so I can’t vouch for how effective this is post-partum).

    • Yes to this, but there’s also something to be said for lubricants that don’t have sugars in them. KY, for example, has glycerin, which makes yeasites happy (and makes for unhappy vaginas).
      After saliva, coconut oil is nice… just make sure your lube is compatible with your contraception of choice (if applicable)!

    • I could be wrong, of course, but I think the idea that once you start using it, you can’t go back, is an old wives’ tale– I certainly haven’t had any problems.

      As for the problem of disturbing your normal flora, it is wise, as someone else said, to use an unflavored lube without glycerin in it (this one, for example, link NSFW) if you have problems with yeast infections

  21. Like many of the mamas have said, this may not be breastfeeding related. Breastfeeding and pregnancy can cause a lack of lubrication even if you are super interested in having sex soooo lube should help. Try experimenting w/ different kinds (oils can be nice and non-stinging if you are not using condoms…oil can degrade condoms). I know my vaginal “shape” changed after birth which made tampons no longer comfortable so maybe changes in position might help. I would check with a health care provider if lube does not help and experiment at home with your partner. Good luck! I nursed my daughter for 2 years and had little issues other than dryness so I don’t really think pain is ever “normal”.

    • OMG, I’ve been having problems with tampons, too (they don’t hurt, they just won’t really stay in place, and it’s inconvenient and uncomfortable), and I hadn’t even considered it might be because of giving birth! Thank you!

  22. I didn’t get my groove back until my LO was about 10 months. It was after I had stopped pumping. Before that, adult time with my husband was rare… once a month was frequent for us. I will happen, but it does take time. Your hormones arent where they used to be.

  23. I’m confused about what you mean by painful? I used to be a little drier than I was used to but we added lube to our sex life and it’s been just fine. Since our baby was about 6 months old things have gotten back to normal. Other than slight dryness that was easily remedied I didn’t experience anything that I would call pain.

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