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Postpartum Dyspareunia & Dilators

Intimacy and having sex after childbirth can be difficult or painful. The medical term for painful sex is dyspareunia. In this article I will focus on treatment for postpartum dyspareunia or postpartum pain with sex. Postpartum intimacy difficulties may have the following factors: 

  • Lack of time alone with partner
  • Change in hormones leading to decreased desire
  • Lack of sleep and fatigue
  • Pelvic or perineal pain – after vaginal deliveries or abdominal scar pain from cesareans

You will most likely encounter one of these after having a baby but postpartum pelvic pain doesn’t have to be one of them. 

Dyspareunia and Why This Matters 

Dyspareunia, the medical term for painful sex, affects over 50% of women 6-weeks after childbirth. Certain things, like fatigue are very normal after childbirth, and I’m not sure there is much you can do about it. Dyspareunia, while common following childbirth, does not have to be the normal. There is something you can do to help.

Up to 85% of women experience perineal trauma during vaginal childbirth. The perineum is the area of skin between the opening to the vagina and the opening to the anus. Perineal trauma occurs when you have an episiotomy or a perineal tear. An episiotomy occurs when an incision is made on your perineum to make the vaginal canal bigger.

The Role of Scar Tissue 

Following perineal trauma, the body develops scar tissue. Scar tissue may make penetrative vaginal intercourse painful or difficult. Thankfully, vaginal dilation therapy is an approach that may help you transition back to intimacy if experiencing postpartum pelvic or perineal pain.

If you have more questions about scar tissue, scar tissue formation, or vaginal stenosis, and how vaginal dilators may be able to help with these conditions, please see my blog post on that.

Vaginal Dilation to Help Overcome Dyspareunia 

Vaginal dilation therapy is an approach using vaginal dilators (also called vaginal trainers, which help to stretch the pelvic muscles.

Gentle stretching will release the pelvic floor muscles in a relaxed and comfortable way. Think of it like a massage for the perineum, which helps mobilize scar tissue and decrease pain. 

Guidance on Vaginal Dilation

Vaginal dilators are an easy and conservative solution to help in the treatment of dyspareunia or pain with intimacy, as well as general pelvic pain. Dilators are used during pelvic physiotherapy sessions and can also be used at home. When used at home, it is helpful to get the recommendation of a physical therapist on how to use them and how often to use them.

Your unique treatment plan will depend on what specific symptoms you are experiencing and also on your unique goals.

You can get started on your recovery path with a free 15-Minute Getting Started with Vaginal Dilators Training Session. During this session, we will go over general guidelines on how to use dilators. Additionally, we will discuss dilator types and where to find these. Some vaginal dilator/trainer products offer discounts or may be covered by insurance, this session can cover this as interested.  

If you are experience pain with intimacy or sex, know that you are not alone and there are solutions and resources to help you along the way.

For more helpful solutions or information, follow @SuttonHealthAdvocacy on Instagram!

Disclaimer: The information in this article is for educational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice from a healthcare professional, or as a diagnosis or treatment. Please seek the advice of your healthcare professional before engaging in any treatments, including a vaginal dilation program, or taking any medical advice from the internet. 

Dr. Stacy Sutton

Dr. Stacy Sutton

Dr. Stacy Sutton

Sutton Health Advocacy

Helping Ambitious Women Through Pelvic Pain, Bladder Issues, And Pre/Post Pregnancy Problems So They Can Live An Active, Confident, And Healthy Life Without Medications Or Surgery.