What Really Happens to Your Vagina After Giving Birth

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Probably the most daunting part of giving birth is that you've got to somehow squeeze a baby -- a whole baby! -- out of your body. Have faith -- millions upon millions of women have done it; you can too. And if you're wondering if your lady parts will ever be the same after giving birth, millions upon millions of women have wondered that too.

After all, once your vagina stretches to accommodate your bundle of joy, it seems dubious that it would snap back to its original shape. Odds seem good that it may suffer some wear and tear, and maybe even feel "looser" than before... which may have you worried whether sex will feel as pleasurable for you or your partner.

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Good news!

While this is a common concern among women, the outlook isn't as bleak as you might think.

"A pregnant woman marinates in a combination of hormones that enables her tissues, ligaments and even bone to stretch," explains  Jane Parker, a certified nurse practitioner and sexuality counselor. "After delivery, a hormonal shift takes place that causes all of the structures to recover to nearly pre-pregnancy state. Truly amazing!" 

Of course, certain factors during your delivery can increase the odds that your below-the-belt organs may not be restored to a tee: if your baby is exceptionally large, or forceps are used to get the baby out, if you push for a prolonged period of time, or have given birth numerous times (particularly later in life), these things increase the odds that the baby's passage may cause tears in your vagina's connective tissue that could be tough to recover from.

The good news is that if you do feel "looser" afterwards, you don't have to just sit back and accept it. "A woman's best course of action after birth is to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles," says Oscar Aguirre, MD, an ob/gyn and pelvic surgeon who treats women for vaginal looseness after birth. And that means Kegel exercises, where you squeeze the muscles that would stop the flow of urine (try squeezing 10 times for three sets, then ramp up from there).

More from CafeMom: The Real Reason Women Should Do Their Kegels

You can also try more high-tech options, like FemiLift, a laser rejuvenation therapy designed to tighten and tone the vagina. But unless you're really suffering or feeling self conscious, it's probably not necessary. 

"There's no question that sex is different after a delivery for most, but not always in a negative way," says Dr. Aguirre. "For instance, before children, some women have pain with sex due to a small vagina in relation to her partner's penis. After childbirth, sex can finally be comfortable, pleasurable and pain-free."

What's more? "I rarely hear men complain about vaginal laxity in my sexuality practice," points out Parker. In other words, this concern about "looseness" may be entirely self-inflicted, and not one worth worrying about as much as you might think.

Do you think giving birth has changed (or will change) your sex life?

 

Image via iStock.com/golubovy

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