Sex after C-section: Precautions, timeframe, and what to expect

They may also need to take a few precautions and make some adjustments to their sexual activities in the short term.

A C-section, also known as a cesarean delivery, involves a doctor delivering a baby through a long incision in the abdomen instead of through the vagina.

An estimated one in four pregnant women will undergo cesarean delivery, and questions about how it affects postpartum sexual activity are very common.

In this article, we address some common concerns, including how long to wait, what to expect, and if there will be an increased risk of bleeding.

How long to wait

While there is no standard amount of time a woman should wait before returning to regular sexual activities following cesarean delivery, it is best to wait until a doctor says it is safe.

Most women get the OK from doctors at their 6-week postnatal checkup and may choose to start having sex after this point.

In a 2013 study that included more than 1,500 women, 53 percent had attempted sexual activity within 6 weeks of giving birth. Of these women, 41 percent had tried vaginal sex.

Everyone’s recovery is different, and the pace may depend on whether the cesarean delivery was extensive or unplanned.

Many women who have undergone cesarean delivery chose to wait at least 4–6 weeks before having sex because they experience soreness, vaginal bleeding, and fatigue following the birth.

Women should also avoid wearing tampons until postpartum bleeding, or lochia, is complete.

Many women do not feel like having sex for a few weeks or months after giving birth, either vaginally or by cesarean delivery.

There is no need to rush. Most women and their partners are exhausted from taking care of a newborn, so sex may not rank high on the list of priorities.

It is essential to keep in mind that sex should be pleasurable. If sexual activity causes any pain or discomfort, it is best to stop.

If the incision site is sore, try positions that do not put any pressure on the woman’s abdomen.

Hormonal changes after birth may lead to vaginal dryness, so it may be a good idea to use a lubricant.

If penetration is uncomfortable or painful, it can help to focus on nonpenetrative activities. Some types of foreplay, such as massage, can also help people to relax and enjoy their experience.

It is crucial to keep in mind that everyone heals differently. If sexual activity becomes more painful over time, talk to a doctor.

Authors of one study reported that the rate of sexual problems in first-time mothers rose from 38 percent before pregnancy to 83 percent in the first 3 months following delivery. This figure declined to 64 percent 6 months after birth.

In one cohort study, the researchers found no differences regarding sexual problems after delivery among women who gave birth vaginally and those who underwent cesarean delivery.

However, results of another cohort study suggested that women who had undergone cesarean delivery were more likely to delay having sex longer than those who had given birth vaginally.

Most women need to spend 3–4 days recovering in the hospital after cesarean delivery.

After 24 hours, a doctor or nurse will often recommend getting up and gently moving around, even just to go to the bathroom. A nurse may also demonstrate ways of moving that are less likely to cause pain from the incision site.

A doctor may leave the dressing on the incision site for at least 24 hours after the surgery.

Most cesarean delivery incisions are between 10 and 20 centimeters long. They run horizontally across the abdomen, usually just above the underwear line.

Before a woman leaves the hospital, the doctor will give instructions to ensure that the wound heals properly and remains free from infection.


There is no right time to begin having sex again after cesarean delivery.

However, the cervix needs time to heal, and the incision site will be more prone to infection in the initial weeks, so it is best to wait until a doctor says it is safe.

A doctor will usually give the go-ahead close to the 6-week checkup, but many women prefer to wait longer.

Take things slowly and communicate what feels pleasurable and what does not. If sex is painful, it is essential to say so. People may choose to stop or try a different position or activity.

If sex becomes more painful over time instead of less, speak to a doctor.

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