postpartum sexAccording to a study published in BJOG, new mothers wait the recommended six weeks before having vaginal intercourse after the birth of their first child. Moreover, operative delivery leads to longer wait times. Operative delivery, for the sake of the study, included C-section, episiotomy or perineal tear. Information for the study was collected via the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. Data was collected from pregnant women and at regular intervals postpartum. A total of 1,500 new mothers were included in the study.

Self-administered questionnaires were used to collect data. New mothers were asked to reveal how long they waited after giving birth before attempting to have vaginal intercourse. About 59% of women waited until after the six-week check-up to attempt intercourse. Thirty-five percent waited at least eight weeks and 22% waited at least 12 weeks. By six months postpartum, nearly 95% of women had returned to having vaginal intercourse.

When researchers split the women into vaginal and operative delivery, the numbers skewed slightly. Women who gave birth vaginally were more likely to attempt intercourse earlier than women who gave birth via operative means.

Researchers reported that just 10% of women give birth vaginally with the perineum intact. Male partners need to be prepared for longer recovery times and delayed times between birth and first intercourse if perineal injury occurs or birth is achieved by operative delivery of any kind.

Couples often ask questions about when sexual intercourse can be resumed after giving birth. Typically, the advice most practitioners give is to wait until after the six-week check-up, which could be the reason most women wait at least six weeks. However, women who give birth vaginally may suffer an injury during the process that increases healing time dramatically. This is a subject practitioners need to discuss with patients before and after delivery.

Source: BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Most first-time mothers wait until after 6 weeks before resuming sex following childbirth. February 27, 2013.