Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions

anonymous on September 9, 2011

Since my C-section, I can’t reach orgasm and sex is painful. Can you help?

I’m a 30-year-old female who had my first baby a few months ago by C-section. Before the birth, I was able to achieve orgasms, but now I can’t...and sex is painful. Could the C-section have caused this? My vagina, especially the opening, feels inflamed and burns. I’ve been diagnosed and treated twice now with a non-specific bacterial vaginal infection, and I’m starting to show signs of infection again. I’m getting really discouraged about enjoying sex like I used to before the baby. Any advice?

answered by
Annette Fuglsang Owens, MD, PhD on September 9, 2011

 First of all, congratulations on your new baby! As you’re finding out, however, the joy of birth can bring with it some physical challenges…I’ll do my best to offer you some helpful insights.


To begin, it sounds as though you’re experiencing some stress...and rightfully so. Having a baby, especially your first, brings with it a number of physical and mental adjustments. Your body is coping with the demands of breastfeeding and interrupted sleep, as well as some other stresses that automatically occur in order to give birth.

When you’re pregnant, your body prepares itself for a vaginal birth...not a C-section. Part of the way your body prepares itself is that your vaginal tissues become engorged in preparation for your baby’s exit. The swollen or engorged tissues don’t immediately go back to “normal” after birth. These engorged tissues may be what’s causing the pain you feel during sexual intercourse. The swelling should go down over time...

In the meantime, to make sexual intercourse more comfortable, you may want to try using a water-based lubricant.

As for your non-specific bacterial vaginal infections that keep coming back...these, too, could be caused by stress, which can make you more vulnerable to infections.

You were right to see your doctor about both conditions, and I would encourage you to continue to keep your doctor or gynecologist informed if your discomfort persists. You also might want to include in your diet foods like yogurt that contain “good bacteria” (or, probiotics). Probiotics have been found to promote better health, and prevent the growth of “bad bacteria,” as shown by a study conducted by the Department of Pathology at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas. This could boost your immune system and help prevent future infections.

Thanks for sharing your concern with us, and I wish you good health as you grow into the role of motherhood.

 

Annette Fuglsang Owens, MD, PhD

Dr. Owens is an AASECT-certified sexuality counselor. Her areas of expertise include the medical aspects of human sexuality and sexual problems, as well as the impact of STDs ⎼ and other diseases, illnesses and disabilities ⎼ on sexuality. Dr. Owens was educated at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

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