Why do I have low sex drive after birth?
Taryn Gaudin Women’s Health Physio
LOW SEX DRIVE AFTER BIRTH
WHY DO I HAVE LOW SEX DRIVE AFTER BIRTH?
When is it safe to have sex after birth?
Many women have questions about sex after birth. When is it safe to have sex after birth? How will sex feel after birth? Why do I have no interest in sex after birth? These are all normal questions that women have, yet there are very few places where these conversations are actually taking place. In this article I will share with you some of the ways in which you will know if you are ready to have sex after birth, how to tell when you should not be having sex after birth, and why some women have no interest in sex after birth.
What defines safe postpartum sex?
When we are considering the physiological recovery after birth, there are not many common medical reasons why a woman wouldn’t be able to enjoy sex if she felt ready to. Another way of saying that is – usually, by the time a woman feels ready to consider having intercourse after birth, it would be ‘safe’ to do so in terms of not creating any adverse physiological/medical concerns. In saying that, however, if a woman doesn’t feel completely ready to have sex, or if she experiences any physical pain during intercourse after birth, this can lead to physical pelvic symptoms developing. The woman’s body’s natural response to pain or emotional discomfort during intercourse (particularly during penetration) is often to tense through the muscles of the pelvic floor. As the pelvic floor muscles tighten, in attempt to offer protection, pain and emotional dis ease can become elevated. A cycle that further escalates pain can begin. Often, women dismiss pelvic pain with intercourse after birth as ‘normal’ and feel like they need to put up with it. In doing this, pelvic tension can increase, the cycle can continue, and pelvic pain can become a problem not only during sex, but in her day-to-day. Pain free sex is certainly one aspect that contributes to creating ‘safe sex’. If a woman is experiencing pain during sex after birth, there can be a number of contributing factors – birth trauma, pelvic organ prolapse, and a lack of opportunity for body re-connection after birth are three common factors that contribute to painful sex after birth.
In my book Body Conscious: a woman’s guide to holistic pelvic wellness and feminine embodiment, I share some of the common experiences that women have in relation to sex after birth, and what is required in our relationship with our self our body, and our chosen partner/s to have the type of sexual experience we desire. I also share body connection practices that help women to heal their relationship with their body so that they can enjoy intimacy in a way that feels safe and pleasurable. Below is an excerpt from Body Conscious:
To have a healthy interest in sex, to be able to feel embodied, and to enjoy pleasurable and satisfying sex we need:
- Positive pelvic health and healthy hormones
- Ample energy and vitality
- A positive association with sex and pleasure
- To feel safe and respected
- For sex to feel comfortable and pleasurable, and not painful
- To have a positive relationship with our body including our feminine body
- To be able to communicate our needs and desire’s
- A willingness to be vulnerable, curious, and open
I invite you to take some time to consider how you would like to experience sex and how you would like to feel in relationship to sex?
Postpartum sex and the impact of birth trauma
Often women don’t realise that they have experienced birth trauma. We often think that for birth trauma to exist, something major must have happened during our birth experience. There are many factors that can contribute to birth trauma and unexpected or unwanted intervention is just one aspect of birth trauma. A quick birth, or a prolonged labour, can be equally traumatic for women. When contemplating birth trauma, one of the most important things to understand is that only the woman moving through the birth experience is qualified to say if her birth felt traumatic. What one woman may experience as traumatic, another may not. It is important to recognise too that trauma can be emotional or physical in nature.
In our western culture, where intervention is common, and birth is medicalised, women often don’t feel that they have the time and space to contemplate and process their birth. The rituals and ceremonies that would often support a woman alongside her birth experience have been lost in our culture, meaning that women don’t often have access to sacred and safe spaces to transition into motherhood in a way that has them feel held and supported in their experience. This often leaves us with the residual residue of birth trauma within our cellular being. This trauma (whether physical or emotional in nature) can contribute significantly to ongoing low libido after birth. In fact, I would say that unrecognised or unprocessed birth trauma, is the leading cause of disinterest in sex after birth amongst the women that I work with. Offering ourselves safe and sacred spaces where we can process and heal this trauma is often the pathway towards feeling increased sexual desire after birth. Below, you can watch a video where I talk about postpartum sex, the impact of birth trauma, and how women can begin to heal birth trauma.
Pelvic organ prolapse and disinterest in sex after birth
One other leading cause of women having a disinterest in sex is having symptoms of Pelvic Organ Prolapse. You can read more on what prolapse is and the symptoms of POP here. Often, it’s the confronting changes in her body that a woman is experiencing that has her feeling a diminished interest in sex. Emotions of shame, anger, frustration, and sadness often leave women feeling completely disinterested in sex – not only because they feel exhausted, but also because they don’t feel sexy and vibrant. When we don’t feel sexy and vibrant, we don’t often feel drawn towards sex and intimacy. In my blog “Can I heal Prolapse Naturally?” I talk about the energetic and emotional aspects of Pelvic Organ Prolapse. Commonly women describe feeling unsupported in their life, as well as feeling unsupported by their Pelvic Floor. Feeling unsupported leads to a sensation of having to ‘do it all’ which only further contributes to feelings of exhaustion and depletion – leaving us without the vitality required for healthy sexual relationships.
In addition to the emotional aspects of Prolapse, there is the physical sensations that can change within our body. One common symptom of central (uterine) prolapse is a deep thudding sensation during intercourse. This can sometimes be described as painful for women. A helpful suggestion that often offers a solution is to find positions where you feel in control of both the depth of penetration and the speed of penetration – woman on top is usually a good ‘go to’ position for women who experience this deep thudding sensation during intercourse.
Body reconnection after birth
Perhaps the biggest missing piece to the puzzle of finding an increased desire and interest in sex after birth is reconnecting with your body after birth. During pregnancy, we often feel connected to our pelvic bowl. We can feel baby growing in this space offering a huge depth of sensation within the pelvis. As we transition through pregnancy and birth, there are enormous changes that happen within our body in such a short period of time. After birth, if we don’t take the time to reconnect to our body, we can feel like strangers in our own home. Our body can feel foreign, we can feel unsure of what feels connected and pleasurable, and we can feel uneasy in ourselves. These sensations can cause us to feel extremely vulnerable when it comes to intimacy and sex. When we don’t feel comfortable and knowing of our body, it feels almost impossible to welcome someone else into our physical and energetic space. Given that sex is perhaps a time where we feel most exposed, both literally and figuratively, it is not surprising that women can feel withdrawn and disinterested in sex after birth.
The physical, emotional, and energetic medicine that helps us to feel interested in sex again after birth, is in the beautiful simplicity of reconnecting to our body after birth. Simplicity doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come without challenges. Reconnecting with our body after birth requires focused attention and intention, it requires us to come from a space of self-love, self-kindness, and self-compassion. Reconnecting with our body after birth means that we must be willing to allow our body to lead and guide the way. Rather than feeling inconvenienced by our body or wanting to bypass the tenderness that postpartum healing requires, we can lean into this phase in our life as a great teacher. When we allow our body to guide us, and when we make it a priority to reacquaint ourselves with our body after birth, we are gifted with the phenomenal wisdom that this transition gifts us. Here, I offer you a body connection practice, that you can use to begin to reconnect with your body after birth.
Reigniting your interest in sex after birth
Feeling disinterested in sex after birth is common, but it’s not something that you need to put up with. I hope that you find some of the strategies and messages within this post helpful and that they offer you some ways to begin to feel more at home in your body after birth. If you enjoyed this article, I encourage you to take a look at my book Body Conscious: a woman’s guide to holistic pelvic wellness and feminine embodiment. This 320 page book is full of women’s body wisdom, evidence based information, and body connection practices that you can enjoy in the comfort and privacy of your home. Within the pages of Body Conscious I offer a deeper exploration of the concepts shared within this post. With practice and patience, you may reignite your interest in sex after birth.