We all know having a baby brings about lots of changes to your body, but vaginal pain doesn’t have to be one of them. Our bodies – and yes, our vaginas – are miraculously designed to recover from the trauma of childbirth. However, it is important to know when to give your body the time it needs and when to seek medical help.
How long should my vagina hurt after having a baby?
We would love for every woman’s body to be back to normal before they even had the chance to change their first diaper. However, every body is different, and you did just pass something the size of a watermelon through an opening the size of a quarter!
That said, if you are still having pain after about three weeks post-partum, there may be something wrong. Schedule a follow-up appointment with your medical provider to rule out any major issues.
Why does sex hurt after having my baby?
There are a lot of reasons why sex could be painful after giving birth. Assuming your follow-up appointment ruled out anything sinister, like an open wound or tear, your pain could be related to musculoskeletal issues. During delivery, the muscles, nerves and joints in the pelvic area were subjected to a serious workout.
You can pull or strain those pelvic and vaginal muscles just as you could any other muscle in your body. It is a physical therapist’s job to help muscles, nerves and joints recover after an injury, and pelvic health physical therapists are experts with the specific muscles of the vagina and pelvis.
Could I have a vaginal strain?
With all that pushing, there definitely exists the possibility of a strain of one of the joints of the pelvis, pubic symphysis, hip joint or sacroiliac (SI) joint. You could have also strained the pelvic floor or vaginal muscles. This particular strain can sometimes be referred to as pelvic floor muscle spasm, levator spasm, pelvic floor dysfunction or vaginismus. Don’t worry, they’re easier to treat than they sound, and we’ll outline some of those treatments a little later.
Could my vagina actually be tighter after having my baby?
After baby, your vaginal muscles could actually feel tighter during sexual intercourse, even to the point of causing pain. This may be because of pelvic floor muscle incoordination, or a paradoxical contraction. No, a paradoxical contradiction isn’t something you learned about in your language arts class; it’s a condition where your muscles basically become confused.
This means that when you think you are relaxing the vaginal muscles to prepare for intercourse, they might still be contracted. It’s a similar tightness to when you pull a muscle in your hamstring or low back. Vaginal muscle, after all, is the same type of striated muscle tissue found in other contracting muscles of the body.
How can pelvic health physical therapy help after birth?
Pelvic health physical therapy has a host of treatments available to help treat these types of post-baby issues. For starters, new moms may need help strengthening the pelvic girdle. The pelvic girdle includes those pelvic floor muscles we mentioned, as well as the lower abs and parts of your core and hips.
Therapies often include manual therapy like soft tissue mobilization or massage, trigger-point release and myofascial release. Your therapist might also include biofeedback, which measures the output strength of the pelvic floor muscles, or neuromuscular re-education, which uses a tiny electrical current to retrain your muscles on how to contract and relax.
Does pelvic physical therapy hurt?
This is one of the most common questions for new patients, and the good news is: no, pelvic physical therapies are not painful. Some manual therapy may feel tender to the touch, but should eventually encourage those muscles to relax, just like when you have tension in your shoulders. Even during neuromuscular re-education, the electrical current is so tiny (just a little 9-volt battery) that patients shouldn’t feel any pain.
With so many treatment options available in pelvic health, new moms should never accept or “deal” with vaginal pain post-partum. Roughly three weeks after baby, talk to a pelvic health physical therapist about scheduling a consultation. Your primary doctor or OB-GYN can also give you a referral. Be good to yourself. (And your partner!)
Call us today and see how pelvic health physical therapy can help you recover faster, feel better and Savor Life!