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. ok: there are a LOT of small important muscles that make up the plevis and can be pressed on durring sex. Those muscles can get injured just like any other muscles in your body. Your pelvic alignment can be changed from birth and from careing for a small infant. You should note if you’re having anyother pain, general lower back pain, abdominal pain, pain between the hip bone and the pubis,(front bottom of the pelvis) these would point to hip alignment issues. You could also have trigger points in these muscles ( a spot that is painful to the touch where the muscle has tighten up and is squeezing the nevers that go to it) the trigger point gets touch durring sex. I have some interior muscle tightness on my left side. I hope you find someone who takes this seriously and can help.

  2. see previous post for an example of where to find help, they mention some professionals. Although you’re situation sounds like common post partum sex issues instead of the condition mention in the post. We should not stand for the painful sex will just get better! Why can’t it get better like now! http://offbeatmama.com/2010/12/post-partum-sex

  3. I am going thru the same thing with second baby….the issue is lack of estrogen while breastfeeding….my LO is 7 mos old still nursing regularly and sex is unbearable ! Ihad a c section too btw…..with first baby it wasnt so bad cause he didntbreastfeed as much or as long. My gyn prescribed estrogen cream due to vaginal tissue being atrophied….im scared to use it since its linked to cancer….so i have been trying to up my estrogen naturally with soy and also will try vitamin e oil…..lube doesnt help….my vagina is sore and so sensitive it hurts to even wear tight pants….

  4. I scanned through the comments and I don’t think this was mentioned. When dealing with sex issues that are related to breastfeeding, I’ve know people who have found relief with estrogen creams. (That’s if lube, warm-up time, etc. don’t help and you have been checked out for birth-related injury, infection, etc.) You could talk to your midwife or a different midwife/doctor about that if you think it might help.

    BFing pretty much shot my libido, but it did get better once my kid weaned. (Then I went through IVF and got pregnant again though, haha…)

  5. My baby’s 14mo, and sex was, at best, uncomfortable for that whole first year. Lube helped some. Positions I used to like, I no longer do; positions I used to avoid are now some of my favorites. And we’re bedsharing, which also interferes with our sex life–where we used to have sex almost daily before baby’s arrival, getting it once a week now is a huge challenge. And you can gauge how long it’s been by how bitchy I am. It’s been a bit of a Catch-22.

  6. As someone else said, lube lube and more lube. I am still breastfeeding my 1 year old (not all day, but 3-4 times per day) and sex is fine. It was really painful for the first few months, but my lady bits just needed some time to heal. I will say I probably did not get back to ‘normal’ until about 10 months (my new normal involves more lube that it used to), but around 5-6 months we could regularly have sex with ridiculous amounts of lube. I think I was so afraid of my scar stretching that I was really tense! I also have an IUD, but that does not seem to effect anything.

  7. Well, I’ve read all the comments here and have to say that I think it’s worth investigating with another healthcare practitioner what might be going on for you. I’m still breastfeeding my 34 month old daughter and do not have the issues with dryness or with pain, or with libido, and for her age, my daughter still nurses a lot! I do remember the first time I had intercourse after my first daughter was born being painful, but it was only the first time…not subsequent times. So, if you have something else going on that lube (and I’m with the mamas who suggested saliva as the best lube in the world) won’t fix, you owe it to yourself and your partner to find out what it is. I just want to say that pain from dryness can be really irritating and your tissues would probably feel pretty raw if you’ve had sex w/o enough lubrication, which might also leave you open to the possibility of infection. However, that kind of pain is different than some, so you really could have something totally different going on. Hope you find a solution, and quickly and get to have fun again! xo

  8. Go to a professional, there are so many reasons you may have problems, it can even be vaginismus.

  9. Yikes! I had no idea this was such an epidemic! I just had baby #4 two weeks ago and I’ve never had any such issues, and they’ve all been breastfed for a year (well except the 2 week old, lol). All were natural labors without any tearing or cutting. I will say I’m a naturally “wet” person so dryness is not something I struggle with. I think with #1 we had and used some astroglide. I understand that coconut oil is the best natural lube, for those who wish to try.
    Bottom line, sex shouldn’t hurt. Make sure you’re doing kegels so your uterus isn’t sagging into your vagina and keep doing research until you’ve got it figured out.

  10. Hi,

    I have read all the posts and I think all my points have been covered… but just in case… It normally takes 6 to 8 weeks postpartum for you internal organs to get back to their right spot. I can however take longer. If you had stitches after you gave birth, the scar tissue can affect the way the rest of the muscles and tissues of the pelvic floor move. You also have to re-rehabilitate the muscles of your pelvic floor (Kegels anyone?) after child birth and this can be a very lengthy process. You vagina can change shape and change location so what used to work may feel completely different now that you have given birth.

    Breastfeeding does changes your hormones and quite often causes dryness. So like all the ladies have said, lots of lube! When you baby sucks, a hormone is released that resembles the hormones in action when you have an orgasm. Some women experience orgasms when they are breastfeeding (lucky them !). If you do have an injury to a muscle or ligament of the pelvic floor, the fact that theses muscles contract when you are nursing will slow down the heal time.

    So, I agree: go get a pelvic examination, lots of lube, lots of foreplay. Sex should not be painful. Brest feeding a baby does not rule out a happy and healthy sex life.

    I breastfed number one until 17 months and number two is 16 months old and still nursing 4 times a day. Making love requires a much longer warm up than it used to and it has taken some time to find positions and techniques that are comfortable and work.

    Good luck and high five for continuing to persevere with the breastfeeding!

  11. I haven’t had my baby yet (I’m at two months pregnant) but I have a condition that has made sex extremely painful for years – vulvodynia. I have been told that sometimes childbirth can cause it. If this is what you have there are treatments! Go see a pelvic pain specialist. This is something I have been struggling with for years, and couldn’t have sex at all because of it, but when I used a combination of pills and creams it helped. Sadly, now that I am pregnant I can’t use them and it hurts again, but I’m going right back to everything when I can.

    Here’s a website about it:
    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vulvodynia/DS00159

    Good luck!

  12. I experienced the same thing – but it did improve.
    I didn’t feel like being intimate for a while after I giving birth to my son, and when my partner and I finally did (at around 10 weeks) it hurt so much I thought I might never have sex again. I was worried it was due to how I had been stitched for a tear, or that childbirth had caused excessive dryness that would never improve. Having post-partum depression didn’t help matters either (mainly that I did not really feel like being intimate in any way, shape, or form).

    I did some online research and read about breastfeeding producing hormones that can reduce lubrication. I knew I planned to breastfeed up to at least a year and wondered if our partnership could endure a very altered sex life for that long. However, once we started introducing solids things got better, and now (my son was 11 months old last week) things are back to what I would call normal, so there is hope out there!

    My advice in the meantime is to remember that intimacy comes in many forms – don’t forget the power of touch! If you are in the mood for sex, use lubricant and try not to get frustrated/disheartened (I got very upset at myself for not being able to have sex).

    • I didn’t link to it because it describes one specific diagnosis, and we’re not qualified to diagnose anyone with anything. I think the suggestions to check back with her midwife and/or a doctor are right on target.

  13. Something that isn’t often handled well is how your body is different postpartum — not just your vulva and vagina, but all the surrounding muscles and tissues. Especially if you had a long, difficult labor, there could be some stuff going on down there that needs more time, healing and possibly some medical attention. From personal experience: I had a prolonged second stage (pushing) and some interesting tears with my little one that kept me in bed (as my midwife suggested, “with my legs together”) for three weeks after his birth. It took a couple of months for my muscles to stop feeling like they were still trying to push spontaneously. He just turned one, and things are still not quite the same.

    Imagine if you tried to run a marathon or do some other huge athletic activity without much training beforehand. You would expect your body to have a rough time afterward for a long time. You’d probably go to a sports medicine specialist, and seek out various physical therapies. People feel indulgent or silly doing the exact same thing postpartum, but they shouldn’t. If things aren’t returning to normal, go see a gynecologist. Get a referral to a physical therapist who specializes in postpartum work. If you think there’s something going on in your head that’s making it difficult, go see a therapist. There is no shame in any of these things. It is not silly. Having a positive relationship with your body is so important. Having a positive relationship with partner is so important.

    Yes, use the lube. Make sure you are REALLY turned on physically and emotionally before penetration. If you haven’t spent time masturbating postpartum, make sure you take the time to get to know your new body. Get someone else to watch the baby if you need. But also go seek out the professionals. It’s worth it.

  14. There’s a ton of awesome advice on here so I’m just going to add one small thing. You say in your post that “there are other ways of being intimate” and awesome to you for recognizing that. I would add that those other ways of being intimate (mutual masturbation, oral, anal play, intimate touching without orgasm, etc) are also sex. I know it won’t make you stop missing intercourse, but language can be really important in the way we construct narratives about and respond to situations we find ourselves in. Until treatment or time clears up this problem for you (soon I hope!) you and your partner can still have awesome, emotionally satisfying, mind-blowing sex – just not perhaps with a penis in a vagina – and that’s O.K. Adjusting the way you’re thinking about it and talking about it could help ease some of the judgement/insecurity/frustration you’re having. Right now isn’t “no sex” time in your life, it’s just “sex but without one item on the menu that’s usually a favorite” time.

  15. I haven’t read all the comments, but it’s my understanding that breastfeeding shouldn’t cause pain during intercourse. I was single when I was breastfeeding my son, but I never felt pain with my vibrator. And it’s a life size virator, not a tiny wand or egg.
    Breastfeeding hormones can cause vaginal dryness, but that’s nothing a little lube won’t fix. If lube isn’t cutting it, I would see another midwife or doctor. There might be a problem with your perineum or a tear not healing properly.

  16. When I was breastfeeding my daughter it didnt hurt at all. I am so sorry it painful for you..I do hope it get better…Hopefully with this child, I won be in any pain again.

  17. We are not breastfeeding (would have loved to, but she was born early and wasn’t eating and her weight plummeted even further, both of us ending up with repeated infections which made pumping incredibly painful with bleeding and so on –it just didn’t work out the way we planned). Even without breastfeeding, sex hurt until my daughter was almost 10 months old. Part of the pain was psychological (“Oh god, this is going to hurt again and it’s going to suck”.) But part of it was still definitely a physical thing.

    I think it just takes time. A lot of things “down there” are rearranged and torn and stretched and although the bleeding doesn’t go on for so long, things ARE still healing long after.

    I can definitely see how the hormones involved in breastfeeding could cause that too, but try not to JUST blame the breastfeeding. Have hope and don’t give up!

    And by the way, the sex thing does get better again!

  18. I had a similar problem. Despite what many midwives told me, the pain got better when I took the IUD out. It was a bummer, bc I was pretty excited for a non-hormonal long term birth control option. But it was very uncomfortable for me, even though I had it checked many times and it was in correctly. There was still some after the IUD was removed, and I was told that it could be caused by adhesions that formed after birth or because the uterus changed its tilt from pregnancy. I’ve been going to acupuncture for it and had great results. 2 years later- almost back to normal! (feeling not frequency, that will take at least another 4!)
    Feel better.

  19. After the birth of my son we breastfed until 4 months and sex was so painful. Even using lube it was uncomfortable. My OB checked me though and ran tests and found nothing. His diagnosis was that it was all in my mind and that I should make a point to have sex daily for a week and see if that helped. It did! The pain became less and less, I was scared to have sex due to the pain but the more I had sex to better it got and the want for sex became more also. Even after my miscarriage last year I had the same issues and I did the same thing that was suggested to me 4 years prior with my son and after two weeks or so we were back to normal, pain free, and the need and want for sex was back normal also. I hope you figure something out though!

  20. My husband and I never really had any trouble bouncing back, and our babe was haven only breastmilk for, at least, the first 11 months. She will be three at the end of June and is still a strong nurser. I’m sure you trust your midwife, but you may want a second opinion. Every expert I visited warned me about potential dryness and discomfort that is associated with that, but also told me there shouldn’t be any outstanding pain caused by nursing. Good luck and stay strong!

  21. Thought I would mention that some people (like me, and a friend of mine) have had IUD’s lead to painful intercourse, so that might also be something to look into/think about.

  22. I’m in my sixteenth month of breastfeeding and I promise the pain has diminished but hasn’t entirely disappeared. I stopped taking my birth control pill and the initial pain from the start of sex went away, still, for seemingly no reason sometimes positions we enjoyed just the other day will become impossibly painful! Most of the time we’re fine, the best thing that worked for me is try having sex at different times of day and mark down the level of discomfort, also try having sex closer to and further away from the last time you nursed. These things make a surprising difference especially when it comes to well, lubricating. Positions is another huge thing, if sex hurts just try switching around a bit and the pain can go away oddly enough! Good luck!

    EDIT:
    I had a c-section and the pain isn’t only dryness, sometimes it actually feels as if he’s hitting the front of my uterus. I’m fully recovered and healed so I think the type of pain just depends on the person, I hope it goes away eventually.

  23. Hi all,
    It took me almost 7 years to track down what was causing my painful intercourse. I lost count of the doctors/obgyn’s I saw… but a last ditch effort to see a physiotherapist saved my sanity! I was diagnosed with Vulvodynia and treatment for my symptoms included a combination of biofeedback, specific pelvic floor muscle exercises and a 6 month course of low-dose anti-fungal medication to combat the infections.
    The condition and it’s symptoms vary, but it may be something to look into.
    Good luck xo

  24. If sex is still painful after several months, it is NOT normal no matter what your breasts are doing!

    Please, please, remember that there are specialists who focus on removing pain from intercourse. There are so many complicated muscles, ligaments, joints and etc involved in sex that it is very easy for something to cause pain. And women are terrible about being proactive and seeking healing, either because they’re too ashamed or they listen to other people who tell them “it’s just the way it is.”

    If you had blinding pain every time you took a step, would you listen to someone who said “Oh, well, that’s just the way it is, you’ll hurt walking for months until you stop breastfeeding.” ? I bet you wouldn’t!

    Please take care of yourself and look into your options including pelvic therapy. They can do all sorts of cool things these days. Heck, just the other day a therapist was telling me about how she can hook a woman up to bio-feedback monitors so the woman can see if she’s actually doing effective kegels – a real kegel involves 9 different muscles, so it’s easy to not get it right! But with monitoring you can actually see if you’re using your muscles in the most effective way to promote pelvis health. And that’s just one weapon in their arsenal. You *can* get help, and you *can* get better. 🙂

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