Starter Kit

Home Remedies
for a
Pain-Free
Sex Life

Starter Kit

Home Remedies
for a
Pain-Free
Sex Life

If you listened to the second episode in our Sex & Parenthood series, you know that it can be hard to motivate yourself to find the help you need after a childbirth injury. We get it. And we know you’ll get there. But in the meantime, we thought you might want to get started with a few simple things that’ll help you begin to heal. We asked pelvic floor physical therapist Debra Goldman, our special guest for our upcoming childbirth injuries Google Hangout, to put together a starter kit for the mom with a hurtin’ pelvis. Here are her favorite products and stretches—all things you can do at home! So check these things out. And, uh, yeah. Make that appointment you’ve been meaning to make.

Now I’ll turn this over to Debra. —HF

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Debra working on a patient

Debra working on a patient

DEBRA GOLDMAN’S STARTER KIT FOR A PAIN-FREE SEX LIFE

Best lube. Good lubrication is a must when you’re embarking on your post-delivery sex life. Whether or not you’re breastfeeding, your hormones and vagina are still in recovery mode so vaginal dryness can make any little discomfort magnified. Slippery Stuff, my favorite lube, is alcohol and paraben free. Two other great products for irritation at the vaginal opening are Desert Harvest Pure Aloe Soothing Gelé and Neogyn Vulvar Soothing Cream.

Best vibrator(s). If you can tolerate penetration without pain, a nice smooth vibrator can be just the thing for orgasm renewal. The Berman Center Intimate Basics Vaginal Stimulator is good. But if you have vaginal pain, there are also vibrators you can use anally that might help. Adam & Eve Toys has a nice selection. But if you’re still leaking urine and can’t even tell if your pelvic floor muscles are kicking in, the InControl Apex device is a great tool to recover your muscles and throw those pads away. Don’t let the looks of it scare you! It’s best used with a pelvic floor PT to get you started, but it’s a 12-minute home program done at home that will give you results! There’s also a device called the Intensity that combines muscle stimulation and vibrator.

Best way to skip undies. I love a new product called GoCommandos, super soft strips of cotton with an adhesive backing that you attach to your pants, leggings or pantyhose. They let your crotch breathe and heal without the restriction of underwear or extra bulk.

Best manual. A great little book that’s handy to have at the bedside table with hilarious captions is Position of the Day: Sex Every Day in Every Way. For a woman who is experiencing pain in certain positions, you might find ideas in here for positions that are more pleasurable and pain free. It’s also good for same sex couples.

Best (easy) stretching routine. We can’t ignore that the rest of the body has worked really hard, to accommodate your growing baby, gone through labor and delivery, and now has to hold, carry, feed, and diaper your baby. Your upper back, shoulders, arms, and wrists might be screaming for help. And then there are those heavy boobs pulling it all south. So here are three things that you can do anytime, as soon as you want to after delivery.

1. Breathe. And don’t freak out that your belly is now like a giant jello blob. As you exhale. try to wake up the lower abdominal muscles and gently pull your belly button down towards the spine. Don’t worry about how long or how much. Just start doing it.

2. Check in with your pelvic floor muscles. Try to contract them as if you are stopping a fart. Some women who delivered vaginally might not feel their muscles contracting for a few days. If you are seriously leaking urine, and I’m talking gushing, you need immediate help.

2. Wrap your arms around yourself and give yourself a big hug for getting through this. But then keep your arms around your shoulders and rotate and twist in both directions to help your mid-spine and ribcage move. Clasp your hands and stretch them in front and behind your body. Don’t forget to use a pillow against your mid-back when you are nursing or bottle feeding. That’s where you need the back support, and that’s where your partner or friends need to rub your back. Don’t be shy about asking! —DG

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Thanks, Debra! We can’t wait to hear you answer listeners’ questions at our Google Hangout, streaming live on Tuesday, February 10 at 2pm ET. To submit a question to Debra, leave a comment here with the specifics on how you got your injury and what hurts now.

Photo: Amelia Martinez

9 thoughts on “Starter Kit: Home Remedies for a Pain-Free Sex Life

  1. Hi Debra,
    Thank you for taking our questions! My daughter is 11 months old and I am still experiencing pain during sex. It’s not horrible any more but still not great. I have this spot just inside my vagina on the right that hurts during sex. It has improved a lot but we would like to start trying for another baby this summer and I can’t say I’m looking forward to it. I had an episiotomy but I’m not sure if that is connected with my pain. I only had contractions for about two hours so it was a fast delivery. My daughter wasn’t a big baby but she had a hand up by her head so the doctor performed an episiotomy. I was told it was a very small cut and only required a few stitches. I was in so much pain for weeks afterwards. It took a while but the pain eventually went away. Now the only pain I feel is in that one spot during sex. I know I should make an appointment to see someone but I’m not crazy about the thought of someone poking around in there. I would love some suggestions or maybe you should just tell me to make that appointment. Thanks!

    1. Hi Jill,

      I was very hesitant to see a pelvic physical therapist for exactly the same reason: the thought of someone “poking around in there.” I also was in so much pain that I was afraid it would really hurt! But I am so glad I did it because it is the ONLY thing that has helped me with my pain. Also they are so knowledgeable that the two PT’s I have seen have not hurt me at all during internal therapy, which I can’t say for gynocologists. They know what areas have a tendency to be tender and they go very slowly and carefully.

      One way you can feel more comfortable is to start by researching different pelvic physical therapists in your area, looking at their pictures, reading their bio’s and finding someone who you feel you could be comfortable with before you even meet them. You can also ask to speak to them on the phone for a consultation before making the appointment to talk about your issues, because even the way someone speaks to you can make you feel more or less comfortable. Finding the right physical therapist for you is really important and I actually found a new physical therapist because the one I was seeing, although she was nice and I felt comfortable with her, did not help me. I feel so comfortable with my new PT, it’s actually a relief to go see her and have her massage my muscles internally, it doesn’t feel like she’s “poking around” at all. It just feels like “wow, I finally get some relief!” which is huge for me emotionally. We’ve gotten so comfortable we just chat about things friends chat about like, dating, traveling, the Oscars… It doesn’t have to be awkward at all as long as you find a PT you feel comfortable with! Painful sex is not normal and no one should suffer through it! Reading this blog post might help you jump over the hurdle and schedule and appt! http://www.alisonslist.com/series/how-i-recovered-from-postpartum-painful-sex-pelvic-floor-disorder/

    2. I know you left this comment a long time ago and I’m not sure if you’ll get this update: but to anyone who might read this, I had this same *exact* issue–a pain in a specific area of my vagina that made penetration just about impossible. I also had an episiotomy. Anyway, I had to ask my doctor to take a look at that specific area of my vagina and she told me I had a granuloma, and it was really easily removed with silver nitrate. I guess some people need a couple of treatments to make it go away completely, but for me it was one and done. Look into it!

  2. With my first child I had an episiotomy and didn’t attempt to have sex afterwards until 9 weeks. I definitely experienced trauma -down there- and was very scared of the idea of sex. We would try and I noticed a sad cycle – fear of upcoming insertion- my vagina would clamp down- insertion happening-fear- clamp down- pain- clamp down- pain. It was a cycle that involved pain in the vagina but also the tension caused by the fear in my brain. At month 9 I was still having a really hard time. I am so thankful for my friend who asked me about sex post kid. No one else did. She suggested a book (a text book) which walked someone through how to heal from a vaginal trauma. It was an exercise. My husband and I would agree -this is not for sex- so the pressure was off my shoulders. He would insert his penis only partway then hold it there for a bit. That’s all. Next time he would insert it further and hold. Maybe after three or four times of this then my husband would be allowed to penetration a couple of times in one session. You get the idea. Slowly building up my exposure while at the same time ridding my mind of the fear/tension cycle it had created around the event. I wish I knew the name of that book. This all happened 5 1/2 years ago. I have since had a second kid and I have experienced no pain during sex after this birth. So glad you are bringing up this topic! It will help so many couples and women seek the help they need but have no idea where to go.

    1. I know exactly what you are talking about! My OB called it “Vaginismus”, and I have it, too. I had a csection, so I can’t understand what it’s like to go through the vaginal recovery. But, I have had years of painful intercourse from simply “going along with it” when I wasn’t really in the mood, and didn’t speak out when sex was hurting. It turns out that because of this, I damaged my nerve endings in my vagina. Thankfully, I have an amazing OB who prescribed me gabapentin, which helps rebuild the nerve endings. However, it is something I will have to take for life. That, combined with the mental trauma of painful sex (the vaginismus) is something we are still working through. Thankfully I am becoming much more aware of when my vaginal muscles clench during intercourse. I would love to have a VBAC if we have another baby, but my OB did say that the spots I am already experiencing pain in are typically the areas where women experiencing tearing—and considering our challenges with sex, he wanted to bring it to our attention to make a thoughtful decision.( Admittedly, that is a little stressful. Okay, way stressful.) I am so happy you were able to break through and work through your pain!

  3. I’ve had two large children over the past 4 and a half years. My first was 10 pounds 4.5 ounces. I was induced and after almost 24 hours of labor I pushed for an hour and tore slightly. I swear the majority of her weight was in her head and face. I healed ok and had some initial pain with intercourse but it went away after a while.
    My second was 9 pounds 5 ounces (26 months ago). I only pushed for 15 minutes with her. I started to notice a weird feeling after a while. I felt down there and felt something protruding. I went to my 6 week appointment and my Ob/Gyn didn’t even notice until I pointed it out. I told her I could feel it when standing. She had me cough and then she could feel it too.
    She said I have uterine prolapse. She recommended being fitted with a pessary. The other option is a hysterectomy if I’m done having kids (which I am unsure about).

    Is there therapy available that can help to strengthen and push the uterus back up or am I stuck? If we do decide to have another (I’ll be 40 this year…gulp!) will it prolapse even more during pregnancy? Will I need a pessary during pregnancy?
    Thank you!

    1. Heather, I can’t definitively answer your question, but in my pelvic physical therapist’s office there is a poster on the wall all about uterine prolapse, so I can only strongly assume that this is a condition pelvic physical therapy can reverse. Pelvic physical therapy has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders and fixed issues I’ve struggled with for years that I never thought would get better. So I would suggest calling different pelvic physical therapy offices and talking to them about your issues and I’m sure just that will give you a clearer idea of what the best course of action is for you!

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