Ask any new mom what sex was like once her doctor gave her the go-ahead to get back in the saddle (typically about six weeks after birth), and she’ll probably cop to it not being the best ever—due to new-mom fatigue, perhaps, or vaginal dryness caused by breastfeeding-induced hormone changes.
But for some women, painful intercourse continues for several months after getting the all-clear. And a new study suggests that the mode of delivery may explain why, finding that women who underwent either a C-section or a vaginal delivery requiring vacuum extraction had higher odds of experiencing painful sex even 18 months following birth.
The study, published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, was designed to shed light on the factors leaving some new moms feeling pain during intercourse—a condition medically known as dyspareunia. The research team looked at 1,244 pregnant women, asking them to answer questionnaires about their relationship with their partner and their sex life. The participants filled out the questionnaires before giving birth and then at the three-, six-, 12-, and 18-month marks after delivery.