Regaining your sense of sexuality after a baby comes into the picture can take time and energy.
“Regardless of how you deliver, there are a lot of issues involved in reclaiming your sensuality after a birth,” explains Miriam Greene, M.D., an ob-gyn in New York City.
“Your hormones are off, life changes, you’re not feeling well physically, your vagina may have endured trauma, you’re sleep-deprived and sometimes you even have postpartum [depres- sion].”
The good news: Pleasure can return. Here are some tips so you can get back to enjoying your body again.
Enhance Your Estrogen
After delivery, a woman’s estrogen levels take a significant dip. If you choose to breastfeed, they stay lowered for the duration. Decreased estrogen levels cause dryness and thinning of the vaginal lining. “A prescription-strength estrogen cream is important to get that lining back. It’s not harmful and not absorbed into the body,” says Greene. “I certainly recommend it while breastfeeding. Just make sure that you are completely healed and feeling comfortable [having sex].”
Remember Your Kegels
Even before they give birth, it’s recommended that women regularly perform Kegel exercises—squeezing the vaginal muscles that you use to hold back urine—to strengthen your pelvic floor. Postdelivery, it becomes even more important. “People think it’s a joke and it’s not,” Greene says. “Do your Kegel exercises. Your vagina won’t be the same after birth. I recommend the rule of ve: five squeezes an hour. Hold it for the count of five, five [times] a day. That’s 25 squeezes a day.”
Get A New Toy
Dryness from the drop in hormones will impact your sex drive. And if you’ve delivered vaginally, there will likely be unavoidable physical changes to your vagina.
Using a vibrator can be a great way to explore your evolved vagina and rev up your sex drive. “Masturbating will increase the blood flow to your clitoris. When you have flow to your clitoris, it will help you relearn excitement,” Greene says. “It’s like exercising. You want to bring that blood ow back.” See product suggestions on the opposite page.
Give Yourself Time
Doctors may say it’s okay to resume sexual activity at eight weeks postpartum. But when it comes to sensuality and sexuality, it takes many women longer to truly feel back to their old selves. Be patient with yourself and be creative with giving and receiving pleasure—both sensual and sexual.
Consider Your Options
There are a number of procedures on the market that focus on rejuvenating the vagina using heat, ultrasound and lasers. One such method is the Viveve System. The onetime in-office treatment uses radio-frequency energy to heat the vagina to increase collagen and essentially rebuild the tissues. A slight swelling of the tissues is noticeable within days, but the true results start to appear in about four weeks. The procedure costs from $2,500 to $3,500 and should last a year.