Post-Surgery Protocol

Sex After A C-Section Doesn’t Have To Be Daunting With These Expert Tips

When (and how) you can safely ease back into the bedroom.

Originally Published: 
A C-section is major surgery, so deciding to have sex after one can be daunting.
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You recently welcomed your baby after a C-section, and now you're feeling... horny. It's been a while since you've had sex — you're ready to get some. And while you totally deserve a night of passion, there are some things you need to consider before jumping on your partner. While you didn't deliver vaginally (which, not surprisingly, makes that area extra-sensitive), you did just have major surgery. And that means having sex after a C-section can have its fair share of challenges, including pain.

According to Dr. Casey Kestina, you should typically wait about six weeks before having sexual intercourse. Not only do the skin, abdominal wall, and uterus require about four to six weeks to heal inside, but you might also be experiencing some bleeding. Complicated C-sections might require their own timeline of healing, so it's always important to check with your OB-GYN first before having sex.

That being said, here are other things to keep in mind about having sex after a C-section once your doctor has given you the green light.

Your Sexual Timeline After a C-Section

The horniness might be real — or it might not. And either feeling is entirely OK.

"Some people have zero interest in sex after surgery (often due to pain, exhaustion, stress, medication), and others experience heightened desire, as sex can be a source of pain and stress relief," says Lovehoney Sex and Relationship Expert Jess O'Reilly, Ph.D. "Whatever your response, don't pressure or judge yourself. You can have sex when you feel ready (in consultation with your health practitioner)."

Even when your medical doctor offers a guideline as to when you'll be ready to have sex, Dr. O'Reilly says it's important to remember that you know your body best. "If you're not feeling ready and it's long beyond the timeline they've provided, that's perfectly fine. You don't have to get back to sex right away. Take your time. You've just brought a human being into the world!"

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How to Deal With Sex Emotionally and Physically After a C-section

Whether your desire for sex is low, high, or somewhere in between, O'Reilly points out that this is an excellent time to talk about your Core Erotic Feeling (CEF). "Your Core Erotic Feeling is the emotion you require in order to (possibly) get in the mood for sex,” she explains. “It's no guarantee, but in the absence of this emotion, sex is simply not an option for you. Each person's CEF is different. Some common CEFs include feeling relaxed, loved, desired, connected, sexy or safe."

But, according to O'Reilly, your CEF could be any feeling at all — including feeling challenged, excited, playful, or powerful: "How you feel is often more important than what you do, so explore your CEF to cultivate more of it in your life and teach your partner to support you in cultivating this feeling."

When it comes to the physical act of intercourse, O'Reilly says you might want to consider non-penetrative sex at first, explaining, "It's more likely to lead to orgasm for many people, and you may find that it's more comfortable during recovery."

Some options that she recommends include:

  • Playing with a toy. If you're nervous about sex after C-section, a sex toy can help you ease back into the bedroom fun. You'll be in control, meaning you can set a pace that feels good to you physically and otherwise.
  • Oral or manual play. "You can play with yourself or have your lover go down on you while you fantasize or simply relax into the sensations."
  • Fantasy and dirty talk. According to O'Reilly, if you want to delve into your fantasies, role plays, or dirty talk, begin with the feelings you want to evoke.
  • Offer a massage. Start on the shoulders and work your way down to the private area. Focus on the upper thighs and buttocks. Not only will this help your partner release oxytocin, but they'll become aroused and extremely relaxed.
  • Try reading erotic fiction together. Sexy literature can take the mind and body on a wild ride. So instead of penetrative sex, cuddle on the couch and turn some pleasurable pages.

"Once you've explored your CEF, the real fun begins, as you can explore your Elevated Erotic Feelings (EEFs). These are the feelings that take sex to the next level," she says. "Oftentimes, the CEF is rooted in safety, and the EEFs are rooted in subversion or risk. Think about a fantasy or peak erotic experience — how did others relate to you? How did you feel? What role did you play?"

O'Reilly recommends exploring these fantasies and seeing where the pleasure takes you. "If you have a partner, be honest about how you're feeling sexually. If you're not in the mood, that's OK. Let them know. Perhaps you're in the mood to connect in some other way (e.g., snuggling or kissing)."

Another tip? Don't be afraid to be a taker. After all, you're still recovering from birthing a baby.

"If you want a massage, ask for it. If you want space because you're feeling hot or uncomfortable, be honest. The more you communicate what you're feeling, the better they'll be equipped to support you," says O'Reilly. "Of course, you'll want to consider how they're feeling too, but now may be the time to put your own needs (physical, emotional, social, practical, spiritual) first."

The Best Sex Positions for Those Healing From a C-section

In a nutshell: Sit back and enjoy it. Says O’Reilly, "You've just birthed a human being, so no need to get acrobatic. In fact, this is a great time to sit back and receive pleasure. So many new birth parents are concerned about pleasing their partner, but you'll likely be better off if you focus on your own pleasure first."

O'Reilly recommends sitting in a comfy position. Perhaps lean against the headboard, bend your legs, elevate your behind with a pillow or two, and let your partner go down on you: "They can use their hands, tongue, face, fingers, or a toy as you guide them using your hands or simply sit back and enjoy the ride."

Spooning is another option. "This is a comfortable, simple, and intimate position. You can lie on your sides using pillows for extra comfort and enjoy the closeness of full-body contact,” O’Reilly suggests.

When in doubt, don't exclude your right to some solo sex. "If you're experiencing pain, discomfort, and exhaustion, you might prefer to have sex on your own without the pressure to please or attend to a partner,” says O’Reilly, adding it’s all about finding a position that works for you.

"Consider purchasing a toy with a long handle for flexibility, and don't feel the need to do it all. You don't have to have bigger orgasms or multiple orgasms — just do what feels good,” she emphasizes. “Sometimes a quick maintenance orgasm is all you need to relieve tension, relax and lull yourself into a well-deserved slumber."

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