Painful sex 8 months later - Mothering Forums
Healing Birth Trauma > Painful sex 8 months later
olivebubble's Avatar olivebubble 02:09 PM 01-24-2011

I'm not sure if this is an okay place to post this, but here goes! I gave birth at home with a midwife 8 months ago. The birth was going well until I called my midwife, and, for reasons unknown to me, she did not believe I was in labor, and refused to come over. By the time my partner arrived home from the gym, I was able to grunt out what was going on, and the mw actually arrived, my babe's heart rate had dropped, and I was told to push him out as quickly as possible by said mw. He was already crowning when she showed, but I was laying on the bed on my back with my hips up trying to keep him from coming out (long, stupid story, he had engaged in my pelvis at 37 weeks, then popped back up at 39, so in my head I was still afraid his cord would prolapse, unable to think this through and realize that if he was crowning, his cord wouldn't be able to slip out). So, in the end, I pushed fast and furiously while laying on my back, and he came out in a few pushes. My midwife was there for less than 8 minutes of the birth. I have mental and emotional issues with this whole situation, feeling betrayed, left alone, very scared, unsure of what was going on, and the like, during my first and likely only labor. Now, 8 months later, I can't have sex without pain. It feels as is my perineum is tearing, and I usually end up in tears. -Not because of the pain,  but because I had such a satisfying and enjoyable sex life pre-baby (I was a very sexual person), and now I'm reduced to being unable to even go through with the act of sex. I stopped breastfeeding at about 7 months PP. Though, sex was always either not pleasurable (I felt so big and stretched out, I couldn't feel anything after a few minutes of it- and my partner is quite well endowed), or painful, after the baby was born. I did and have used lube, water-based. I also did kegels religiously, and correctly, per my midwife's observation, from a few weeks after i discovered I was pregnant, until now. Has anyone else experienced this? It's really getting me down. I'm only 21, and I can't imagine living the rest of my life without sex. I seriously regret not electing to have a c-section because of this (and also because of how poorly the birth actually went, with regard to my mw not showing up, treating me very badly while I was labor, and the hours and costs of therapy I'm in now to deal with the PTSD). I know it would have been major surgery, with major consequences, but I wouldn't have such a damaged and useless vagina. 

47chromosomes's Avatar 47chromosomes 03:26 PM 01-24-2011

Did you have any tearing in your birth canal or perineum?  Any kind of scare tissue can cause pain with sex.  Or, even if you did not tear, having to get your baby out so quickly could certainly have damaged tissue that needs help to heal.  Have you been checked for infection?


I'm sorry about your birth.  That really sucks what happened.  I wanted to share my experiences with pp sex.  After my first birth--a totally non-traumatic, great birth, but I had a tear in the birth canal--I was unable to go through with having sex for about 7 months before I made an appointment with the clinic we went to to discuss the issue.  The practitioner looked and said everything looked fine, and there was minimal scar tissue, but that rubbing vitamin E on the area would likely help, along with using lots and lots of lube.  It also appeared I had some vaginitis going on, so we treated that.  On top of all of everything else, she said if nothing worked she would prescribe some kind of hormone cream to apply to the area that hurt.  For me, the vitamin E, treating the infection (which was so minor I didn't know I had it), lots and lots of lube, the knowledge that everything looked fine and sex would not injure me, and just sucking it up the first few times (NOT implying you haven't, btw) is what helped me to be able to have sex again.  And, it really did go back to being fun and great and not scary or painful in short order.  So I would recommend seeing someone about your pain.


Your story has two sides, though.  One physical and one mental/emotional.  It sounds like you are addressing the emotional trauma of your birth with a therapist, so that is great.  I just wanted to share that after my recent birth, which was over-the-top traumatic for me, having sex for the first few times felt like revisiting a crime scene.  It just brought up so many upsetting feelings about my body, my experience, etc.   It's just hard, and it sounds like you've got a two-for-one going on.  I wish you the best as you continue to recover.  Anyway, I recommend consulting with a practitioner about your pain, and honestly, I'd lay off the kegels for a bit, too.  I know I had to really breath and relax my bottom in order to have sex those first few times, so work on that instead for a while.

olivebubble's Avatar olivebubble 09:18 AM 01-25-2011

Yes, 47chromosomes, I did tear, but, according to my mw, it was a first degree, and she didn't offer stitches, which was a good thing, because I didn't offer to let her get anywhere near my lady parts after the placenta was delivered. I was not a in a good place after the birth, I didn't want same mw checking me or looking me over any more than absolutely necessary, and I regret not going in to an OB (or even another mw) for the 6 week pp checkup, or just to be checked out in general, right after the birth. I was afraid if I went to an OB or hospital, I'd be laughed out of the place, or at least given the run around and have to explain that I did have prior prenatal care, was attended by a midwife at the birth, etc., it was all too much for me to deal with at the time. So, I did go for the 6 week pp checkup with my same mw, she said I looked "fine", she'd "seen worse" in regard to my level of laxity. I should mention she had also shared birth stories and tidbits about the women who were on their 8,9,10th baby when she attended them, so knowing "worse" might mean the woman who had delivered her 9th baby 6 weeks prior, versus me, who was 20 and gave birth to one babe, I had a sneaking suspicion then, that something wasn't right. I really had issues with tearing during birth, this was a major concern for me (seems not nearly as important now, but it was then), and when interviewing mw's during my pregnancy, a good section of my Q&A was devoted to questioning them about their episiotomy philosophy, how many women tore during their birth with them, thoughts on perineal massage and optimal birthing position to reduce tearing,if they will hold and apply pressure to the perineum while the baby is sliding out, and so on. My mw knew I had a major issue with tearing, and I genuinely wonder if I did tear more than a 1st degree, and she didn't tell me (she said she doesn't typically stitch women up unless they request it, if they have a 2nd degree or smaller,  said it heals better naturally in most circumstances) - and if it's a 3rd or 4th degree, she transfers to a hospital to have it sewn up) or if I had some internal tearing she didn't see, because she either missed it, or thought it probably wouldn't be bad enough even if I had torn, to try and get me to consent to another exam to find out. I'm not sure. I would understand if I had greater than a small 1st degree, say a 2nd degree tear, she knew it, and she didn't say anything, because she didn't figure I'd want to be sewn up anyway, and also because she knew I was wigged out enough, without the knowledge I'd torn. I didn't inspect the area for months after the birth myself. Recently, I have, and I noticed that my perineum seems much smaller, as if the space from my perineum and vaginal opening to my rectum isn't even a full half inch. Seems like it was much longer before the birth. I did see an OB/GYN a few weeks ago, he was well-reviewed on the web, and it was a pretty typical he came in late, did a quick exam, said I had a mild bladder prolapse, recommended a pelvic floor specialist, and again, he said he's "seen worse", didn't really listen to what I said, but asked questions instead. I have an appointment this Thursday at the Austin Center for Women's Sexual Health, with the main GYN there, they specialize in this arena, so hopefully I'll be able to squeeze more out the doc than the previous OB I saw. 

  Moving on, I know what you mean about the sex act feeling a bit like "revisiting a crime scene", 47chromo. I'm starting EMDR this week with my therapist to work on the birth issue, so hopefully this will bring about some healing. In the grande scheme of things, and compared to what could of been, my birth wasn't that bad. We both lived. 

  I was in a pretty emotional state when I wrote the first post yesterday, and I worry I may have offended or upset someone with the "I wish I had a c-section talk". So, to clarify a bit, when I first became pregnant, I went to an OB, read about the typical hospital delivery and thought it all sounded damned horrible. I figured to spare myself any tearing, and the good possibility of an emergency c-section (being in a hospital), I'd just go ahead and elect to have the c-section, avoid the whole possibility of having people in my face pushing an epi, trying to pit me if I didn't progress fast enough, telling me the baby was in distress, etc.. My nice OB encouraged me to at least try labor, and if I didn't like it, then get sectioned. I was about 5 months preggo at the time of this talk, and started researching alternatives to hospital birth, because it all just sounded so horrible, unpleasant and regimented. In the end I decided to skip the hospital and c-section altogether, give birth at home, and I started interviewing midwives. I felt like an emergency c-section would most certainly be traumatic, and I knew in the hospital I had at least a 1 in 4 chance of ending up with one. So, I apologize if what I wrote yesterday came across as insensitive to anyone, specifically the women who had to have c-sections. 

inkandtofu's Avatar inkandtofu 11:58 AM 01-25-2011

I'm sort of in the same boat.  Except I'll be 30 next month (yay!) and my DD is 7 weeks!  My husband and I researched births as well and decided on a home birth for a lot of the same reasons you did.  It seemed like we'd have the most control and a more peaceful birth by doing it at home.  At 42 weeks I was sent for an ultrasound just for fetal monitoring as I was overdue and it was found that my fluid levels were critically low and I had to be induced immediately.  Pretty much had time to go home, shower, pack, eat then back to the hospital for the induction.  My midwife was AMAZING and I am so glad she was there every step of the way.

  Pretty much every reason we had for avoiding an induction came true.  Baby's heart rate spiked early on in labor and there was talk about an emergency c-section.  My midwife removed the cervical tape and within an hour Baby's heart rate was normal.  17 hours later of hard back labor, I finally "gave in" and got an epidural (this was after trying sterile water papuls and gas).  Slept for a couple of hours, woke announcing I had a bathroom emergency, got checked by my midwife who said she could see the head and I was ready to start pushing.  I pushed for 2 hours.  The last hour no progress was made.  OB was called in as Baby's heart rate was dropping.  OB said the head was stuck behind my pubic bone.  And after that everything was a blur.  Forceps were used and the OB decided (without consultation, which I'm recently discovering that I'm very angry about) that an episiotomy was required.  She cut with scissors and yanked my baby out.  Baby was perfect and fine and has been since.  I on the other hand have had a terrible time healing.

  I couldn't sit, or half lay for about 3 weeks as I was so bruised and swollen and sore.  I had to lay flat.  About a week after the birth all my stitches tore (that the OB spent 45 min putting in).  I looked horrible!  Like ground beef! Midwife came over and said I could get re-stitched but would have to go on antibiotics and no guarantees on how the healing would look. The midwife suggested I apply wet nori after every time I went to the bathroom.  OMG! My gaping scary wound healed very fast but I'm left with a huge scar and a lump of scar tissue and numbness.  And internally on the side that was cut is gaping.  I do my kegals and nothing is seeming to help.

   Last week my husband and I fooled around for the first time.  As soon as he touched me down there I burst into tears.  Everything he was doing felt great but I think all the fear I had that he wouldn't like the new me, and that it would hurt, and that I was deformed came pouring out.  A couple of nights later we had sex for the first time and used a TON of lube.  It was so painful!  Like I was tearing but on the opposite side of where I was cut.  I'm so scared sex will be like this forever too.  I want to attempt to have sex a couple more times to see if things "loosen" up, or start to feel more normal.  I am also going to try massaging with Vitamin E oil which I really hope helps.  If not then I guess its a trip to the doctor. 


I feel your pain and really hope things go well for you.  hug2.gif

47chromosomes's Avatar 47chromosomes 03:12 PM 01-26-2011

Olivebubble - try the vitamin E thing while you wait to see another practitioner.  It really can't hurt, and I am absolutely not an expert, and my tear was internal, so different, but I would guess scar tissue may really be contributing to your pain.  For me, it was unbelievable how painful sex was just because of a bit of scar tissue, but the vitamin E, and probably just the rubbing part, began to stretch and soften the tissue.  The first few times we actually completed sex were not comfortable, but time and "use" helped the tissues become soft and the pain went away.  I hope the next practitioner is able to help you better.  Is it possible you take your partner with you, or a close friend or relative, just to be on your side and help you to make the most of the visit.  Someone who will help you remember all the questions you need to ask, and be assertive to ask the doctor to stay longer if you need more time with them?  I usually have taken my husband to appointments that I know are going to be very emotional for me, because he has the where-with-all to stop the doctor from leaving and say, "didn't you want to ask about this?"  


inkandtofu -- My parts are so different after my previous birth.  I did not have an episiotomy, but a labial tear that has basically left me labia-less on the left side.  Thankfully, though it is kind of tough, it has not hurt.  And my husband, well he does not mind at all.  Still, whenever we DTD I feel a twinge in my stomach as memories from the birth enter my mind.  In time, I'm sure I'll forget I was ever different there, but for now, it's a little weird, if not sad.  Try the vitamin E oil for sure, but don't hesitate to get yourself checked out.  It sounds like your injury is extensive, and will take time to heal, but having the opinion of a caring midwife or doctor may give you ideas to hasten your healing, or in the very least, peace of mind about your progress. 

inkandtofu's Avatar inkandtofu 04:50 PM 01-27-2011

Thanks 47chromosomes.  For me its reassuring to hear I'm not alone and that things will get better!  joy.gif

olivebubble's Avatar olivebubble 11:12 AM 01-28-2011

I saw an OB/GYN/Urologist yesterday afternoon. Turns out I had a pretty severe/weird tear from the birth, that my midwife missed, and that is what has been the cause of all my pain and troubles downtown. The doctor threw a ton of information at me yesterday, and I'm waiting for him to upload notes from the visit online and email them to me, so I'll understand the whole thing better. From what I grasped yesterday: I had a severe muscle tear internally. I don't know/remember what the muscle is called, but according to the doc, it sits under/beneath the perineum, and holds the vagina in place, without this muscle the opening of the vagina would "float or rise up" so to speak. Well mine tore in half during the birth. The doc said this isn't very common, and I'm guessing the way the birth went (trying to keep the baby in for over an hour  while my body was pushing, waiting for the midwife to show up, then when she arrived, babe's heart rate was bad, so I had to fast and furiously push him out immediately, while laying on my back, mind you. So, since this muscle split, was not repaired, and so on, it has healed together very poorly, has a bunch of scar tissue around it, and is no longer supporting my vagina. Doc said my perineal body is drooping inward and no longer a taut (sp.?) circle shaped entrance as it should be. When I'm not in pain from sex, I can't really feel anything, even though my partner is quite well-endowed, which is explained by the muscles laxity.  I can have a surgery to put muscle back together as it should be, but if I do, I won't be able to have any more children vaginally, at least not without tearing the muscle again very badly, since it will no longer be loose and elastic after the surgery. So, the doctor recommended I see a very hard to get into and expensive pelvic floor specialist to try and strengthen the muscle and surrounding pelvic floor to try and get the muscle back to a better place. He also said the surgery would not take away the pain completely, it might actually make it worse, since more scar tissue would be created, etc.. It would however help with the vaginal laxity, which I'm VERY self conscious about now, and I feel like if my partner and I were ever to split, I wouldn't have much to offer by way of sex, since I'm A: very loose, and B: the sex act is very painful for me.  I was a very sexual person before giving birth, and this has and will continue to dramatically affect my sex life, relationships, and general self esteem. I'm definitely glad I found out what was wrong, I knew something wasn't right, but to be honest I didn't expect it would be this bad. Doc also said I might have pudendal nerve damage that is causing additional pain apart from the scar tissue. He said this is common following childbirth. All this is pretty disappointing to me. I heard from several people and read that "everything would go back to where it was", "would be the same", and so on after giving birth vaginally. I guess for some women this is true, and for others it not. I'm not sure if the people (generally mws) who said everything would just "bounce right back" were only trying to make me feel better, and not worry when they said these things, or if this is generally true. 

Either way, my advice to any of you ladies who are having unresolved sexual pain, or pain in general following childbirth find a good urologist/specialist to get treatment/diagnoses from. The doc I saw (can I even post this?) was at the Austin Center for Women's Sexual Health, AKA North Austin Urology. He was very, very good in my opinion, and didn't give me a hard time about the whole home-birth debacle. His nurse and all of the staff I encountered there were equally good and respectful. Dr. Mistry said it's easy for docs/mws to miss tears right after the birth, just because there is so much going on with the bleeding/clots/placenta, etc., that it goes unnoticed. I did see my mw for the 6 week PP checkup, and she did an internal exam then, but evidently missed it again. So, 8 months later, I finally found a good urologist/OB/GYN, and a reason for my pain.  I hope you all are able to do the same, and heal successfully. Thanks for all of the support!


crazyms's Avatar crazyms 11:53 AM 01-28-2011

I had a similar experience after my second. DS was a hospital birth though and his heartrate starting dropping too so the ob snatched him out with forceps. I had a bad tear which she did repair but I still had issues with pain during sex for at least 6 months after having him. The issue seems to have resolved itself over the years but I have seen other women have the same issue. I'm sure there is something the doctor can do to fix the issue for you. Just wanted to say I've been there and it can be fixed and get better. Get help for the emotional pain too. Having a bad birthing experience sucks. I hope you can find a way to make peace with your birth!

nsmomtobe's Avatar nsmomtobe 01:32 PM 01-30-2011

Oh my goodness, olivebubble! I just came across this thread and I can't believe your update. I'm so sorry that you are going through this but I hope things get better for you now that you have found a good urologist/GYN. 


I can only partly relate to your story because truthfully sex has always been painful for me due to vulvar vestibulitis, but avoiding a tear was my #1 consideration in choosing a doctor and doula to attend my birth. Unfortunately my doctor didn't show up and my doula deferred to the attending nurse who was directing me on how to push--first I was told not to push when I wanted to, and then I was instructed to push hard when I didn't think I should (the doula told me afterwards that the baby was in distress near the end, so I had to get him out quickly). Anyway, I ended up with a 2nd degree tear and it took me well over 6 months to attempt intercourse again due to the pain. Now, at almost 13 months, things are starting to feel normal for me again, but unfortunately that is not pain-free in my case. Just for the record though, it is possible to have a fulfilling sex life without intercourse. (I'm not saying that I do currently, but I want you to know that it is possible and to give yourself permission to explore this idea.)


As for the comments about things going back to normal, I can understand your frustration. I thought that a natural childbirth would be easy to recover from because I have heard so many platitudes similar to the ones you listed, as well as how much better it is for bonding ("once that baby is in your arms, you will forget about the pain") but instead I found myself in such pain for weeks and months afterwards that I could barely function, let alone bond with my baby.

lunarlady's Avatar lunarlady 06:44 PM 01-30-2011


I had a painful sex life after my first vaginal birth. It lasted 4 years until a subsequent birth broke up the scar tissue.

I'm so sorry you had such a terrible injury from your birth, and that the MW missed it. I hope you find some doctors who can help you heal and that your sex life recovers as well.
mwright's Avatar mwright 12:06 PM 02-01-2011

Sorry for the trauma you endured from birth and the post pain! I just have to chime in as I am also 8mo post partum and I am still sore down there. I didn't tear on the outside but I am pretty sure I have muscle damage. My son was my VBAC and he weighed in at 9.10 lbs. It took me 2+ hours to push him out and it left me pretty stretched out.  I notice that sex is more painful when DH and I have long stretches between. I have also come across a site that encourages squatting for the pelvic floor and I swear, it has worked wonders for me!! My perineum no longer burns the way it use to.


I try to have the outlook that its our "mommy badges". And I'm not the only one to go through the changes due to childbirth. ;) You are not alone, mama!!


I did have a C-section with my firstborn and it was very traumatic for me and It left me very depressed. Birthing my son at home, in my bed was ever soo healing and I feel like the physical post partum issues is much more managable than the physiological issues.


Possibly look into having a doula for your next birth??!! My midwife was in and out of my house until I started pushing as I really didn't want to be a watched pot. But I had a great support team to get me through.

olivebubble's Avatar olivebubble 02:57 PM 03-06-2011


Ttarail's Avatar Ttarail 02:53 PM 03-14-2011
There are many different types of practioners you can be treated by. I am a practioner of Urogenital visceral manipulation therapist, crainosacral therapist and physical therapist. I had a home birth with tearing that I was able to rehab myself. I have also rehabbed others who have had painful sex post partum. Other types of practioners are accupuntuists, biofeedback specialists and other type of pelvic floor physical therapists. If the wound is closed and there is no allergic reaction I would and did use castor oil instead of vit E. Castor oil has the added benefit of pulling out the trauma. It's sticky so mixing it with another oil can work. There is controversy over using vit E oil on scars. As usually do your own research and testing to find your best match.
For the the person with a muscle tear. It is possible to have the muscle surgically repaired and then stretched out and worked with. If you go this route have the manual therapist picked out ahead of time and make sure they are fully confident in their abilities. And if you choose to have another vaginal birth there are herbal hot packs that many midwives know about that relax the pelvic floor.
I know this can be hard to deal with and there are many that have found great relief.
m-momma's Avatar m-momma 07:44 PM 03-18-2012

Just found this thread one year later. I'm curious to hear how things are going? Are you ladies healed physically? Is sex any better? How about your fear of/desire to have another baby? I had a vacuum delivery with a 3rd degree tear and my 9 lb baby was stuck behind my pubic bone, too. I have sciatica and nerve pain in my left side at 8 months postpartum. Sex is very painful with bleeding and soreness walking for 2 days afterwards. My OB says it's just vaginal dryness and I need to tough it out.  I'm debating whether to see a PT for it. One of my friends who is a vaginal surgeon recommended it as soon as she heard about my delivery. I guess I'm just a little weirded out by the idea of PT for my vagina. What do you think?

nsmomtobe's Avatar nsmomtobe 06:58 PM 04-16-2012

I just re-read this thread and I'm happy to update. At this point, my son is 2 years old and sex is pain free!

Originally Posted by NSmomtobe View Post

I can only partly relate to your story because truthfully sex has always been painful for me due to vulvar vestibulitis, but avoiding a tear was my #1 consideration in choosing a doctor and doula to attend my birth. Unfortunately my doctor didn't show up and my doula deferred to the attending nurse who was directing me on how to push--first I was told not to push when I wanted to, and then I was instructed to push hard when I didn't think I should (the doula told me afterwards that the baby was in distress near the end, so I had to get him out quickly). Anyway, I ended up with a 2nd degree tear and it took me well over 6 months to attempt intercourse again due to the pain. Now, at almost 13 months, things are starting to feel normal for me again, but unfortunately that is not pain-free in my case. Just for the record though, it is possible to have a fulfilling sex life without intercourse. (I'm not saying that I do currently, but I want you to know that it is possible and to give yourself permission to explore this idea.)


I was actually surprised to read the bold. I started taking Zoloft for PPD when my son was 11 months old and I thought that the pain went away around the same time, so I wasn't sure if it was due to the antidepressant or the healing effect of time. Now I see that the pain didn't go away all at once, but at least it got better around the 1-year mark.


Anyway, m-momma, you mention that you are considering a PT. I have heard good things about physical therapy for certain vaginal issues (such as vaginismus or muscle clamping, which is a normal reaction to painful sex). I agree with you that it seems weird to inquire about, but I assume your friend knows someone who specializes in that area and can give you a referral. It couldn't hurt to try.