It's the question that fills mums-to-be with equal parts fear, curiosity and er, fear: 'What really happens to your vagina after giving birth?'
Ok, so it's no typical coffee shop chat (well, unless you're a TMI mum who's likely to have told everyone about your third-degree tear before you've ordered your latte), but the goings on 'down there' after you've had a baby are generally not talked about. That's why we've given you all the facts below.
Here's everything you've wanted to know about your post-baby vagina, but didn't want to ask...
1) You may experience dryness
No matter how turned on you are, your vagina may be dry after birth thanks to hormone disruption.
It may take weeks to return to it's normal state yet, especially if you're nursing. When you're ready to have sex
with your partner it's recommended you use plenty of lube.
5) 40% will experience incontinence post-birth
'Often it's only a tiny amount that you leak, usually when you laugh, cough or sneeze, and can disappear a few weeks after birth so is usually nothing to worry about.' says Dr Marwood.
Doing your pelvic floor exercises
are, once again, the key to preventing incontinence. 'Imagine you're pulling your vagina up and in, as if you're trying to stop yourself weeing and squeeze,' says Dr Marwood. 'And try to remember to make the exercises part of your daily routine – like showering or putting on make-up. You can do them while you're sat breastfeeding
or waiting at traffic lights.'
7) Sex will feel different
When you're surviving on four hours sleep a day, the prospect of doing anything except sending up zzzz when you're in bed can seem totally alien. However, if and when you're ready for sex
, it's worth bearing in mind that it probably will feel different.
'Once your baby is born, oestrogen levels drop so that your body can start producing breast milk,' says Dr Marwood. 'This can cause vaginal dryness and tenderness, and a lower libido. What's interesting is that the speed that your sex life returns is more affected by your mode of feeding than your mode of birth. The longer you breastfeed, the lower your oestrogen levels, and so the lower your libido. So while breastfeeding is amazing for your baby, it can have an impact on your sex life.'
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