PODCAST EXTRAS: Postpartum, Vaginismus, and Why Does It Hurt Down There?

by | Nov 7, 2019 | Uncategorized | 38 comments

Postpartum pain, vaginismus, and sexual pain
Merchandise is Here!

We just don’t talk about how relatively common sexual pain is.

Today on the podcast Rebecca’s sharing about her really difficult postpartum experience (she had a bad tear, plus she has a bizarre hormonal rash), and we’re delving into how common sexual pain actually is.

We don’t talk about this enough, and then women feel like they’re broken when it happens to them.

But first, here’s the podcast:

 

Main Segment: Postpartum Problems

Society has been talking a lot about postpartum depression, which is wonderful. We need to talk about this so that women will ask for help when they need it, and so that people will understand that a new mom isn’t being mean, heartless, or selfish. She’s honestly having issues.

What we don’t talk about, though, is difficult postpartum recoveries.

I gave birth three times, and only one time did I have a difficult recovery. With Christopher I walked home from the hospital (though that likely wasn’t a great idea in retrospect). With Katie I was up and walking at the zoo a week later. But with Rebecca I had a bad tear that kept me in my apartment for 6 weeks, and I just couldn’t walk well that entire time.

That’s what Rebecca has now–plus she erupted in a postpartum rash called “pupps” that 1/300 women get. Seriously, it’s the worst rash I’ve ever seen. It’s like a really, really bad case of poison oak or poison ivy all over your stomach, legs and arms that doesn’t go away for several weeks, making it impossible to sleep (she has to get up every hour and a half to change the ice packs).

And then there are women who have C-section recoveries to manage (especially difficult once you have toddlers), and other problems.

So we just wanted to do this podcast to emphasize that we always talk about labour being difficult, but sometimes the postpartum time is worse. And often these moms need two things:

  1. Help from friends/family and especially husbands, and permission to be off their feet
  2. Understanding from husbands that it’s legitimate to wait the 6 weeks (or whatever it takes) for sex.

We’d love to hear your postpartum stories, too, in the comments!

We also promised in the segment that we’d share the link to my post on maternity leave and  our link for our slow cooker freezer meals! You can sign up below to get our recipes:

 

Reader Question: Sex is still too painful for my wife that we haven’t consummated our marriage (vaginismus)

A husband writes in with this question, which is quite a common one:

My wife and I waited until marriage to try to have sex, and when we got to our honeymoon, we found we couldn’t. She was too tight, there was physical blockage, and even attempting it was immensely painful. We went to her OB and found that she had an obstructive, extra thick hymen, and so she went through surgery to correct it, thinking that would solve everything and we could connect and be together. Unfortunately, (and depressingly) once she was healed and we started trying again, we had the same issues, and the OB said she thought it was vaginismus. My wife is incredibly shy, and hates going to the OB in general. We have started to try what the OB recommended, massaging her opening with a numbing gel to try to relax the muscle, but it’s very painful for my wife. 

I suggested maybe a pelvic floor specialist or something, but she is still not sure she would be comfortable with anyone else doing anything down there. I just am struggling to know what to do, how to help us progress and get to become one flesh in our marriage. We pray about it a lot and just are feeling discouraged and hopeless.

There are no magic answers for this couple except for seek treatment. I think if we talked about how common sexual pain is (it’s about 4% of the population, but it’s much higher in conservative religious circles), then women wouldn’t feel so alone. I shared my own story of vaginismus in The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, so she isn’t alone. 

God made sex to be AWESOME!

It’s supposed to be great physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Feel like something’s missing?

So what would I suggest?

Read my posts on vaginismus. Understand that you’re not alone. And then seek out a pelvic floor physiotherapist. I had such a person guest post a while ago, and she wrote these very helpful posts:

I know it’s awkward, and that she doesn’t want other people feeling around “down there”, but honestly, it’s better to get it dealt with. It really is. And there are things that they can do, so please seek help!

And if you have suffered from vaginismus, tell engaged women that you know. Say something like, “You know, most women have no problem at all getting used to sex, and I’m sure that will be the case for you. But I actually had some pain at first and needed help with it, and if you ever find yourself in that situation, I just want you to know that you can call me.” That way you don’t scare her, but if something bad does happen, she knows that she’s not alone and that she has a resource.

We just need to talk about this stuff more!

Postpartum, Vaginismus, and Sexual Pain: How to Handle Pelvic Floor Pain

Finally, don’t forget to take our survey!

We’re currently conducting the largest survey of Christian women’s marital and sexual satisfaction that’s been done to date, and  you’ll want to be part of it! Take the survey right here.

Thanks so much! And let me know: Did you ever suffer from pelvic pain? Was your postpartum recovery awful? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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38 Comments

  1. Bre

    To the question about vaginismus, when I went to physical therapy, after asking my OBGYN to order it, my husband went with me and the therapist taught us how to stretch at home. I was very scared, and too tight for her to help me in the beginning. She gave us diagrams to explain how all the muscles and things work and then showed my husband how to stretch me. I don’t know if that’s an option for you, but if it is, it might be work considering! It helped me 10 fold to relax, because I trusted my husband even when I wasn’t trusting my own body. You CAN work through it!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Bre!

      Reply
  2. Becky

    I haven’t had a chance to listen to the podcast yet (I generally have to wait until after the kids are in bed!), but you know that this is a topic I understand all too well.

    I think my vaginismus actually made my postpartum recoveries harder than they would have been otherwise, in a couple of ways. For the first labor, where I was induced, I had to get an epidural just to get the foley bulb in to get the process going, because they couldn’t insert it without hurting me. After hours on the epidural, where I couldn’t tell how hard I was pushing, I ended up with a second degree tear that required stitches. On top of that, some of my internal tissue ended up on the outside, and it didn’t heal up right. I had to go back 6 weeks after my initial postpartum appointment and get the tissue burned off with silver nitride (I think that’s what it was callled) because it still hurt to walk. That was when I got sent to my first round of pelvic floor PT, to deal with the scar tissue.

    For my second pregnancy, my hip got completely thrown out of alignment, and I could barely walk up the stairs after giving birth. I went to a different PT for that one, and she was SO much better for me than the first one, since she was more able to help me learn how I can work through my vaginismus at home. (I’d already gotten stuff from vaginismus.com before the babies came, but this was a lot more helpful to me.) But she theorized that since everything’s connected down there, the spasms contributed to pulling on my hip muscle, and that combined with carrying the extra weight from the baby threw it out.

    Thankfully, I had the common sense to go back and see her DURING the third pregnancy when the hip pain started up again, and while we couldn’t do any internal work, my recovery is much better for it. I’m 9 weeks postpartum now, and the only issue I had is that the third tear (which didn’t even need stitches this time) left some scar tissue that’s painful to the touch. My OB/GYN has me on some suppositories right now to help soften it up, because she knows I’m leery of hormonal birth control and the usual treatment is estrogen cream. So hopefully that will help.

    To the wife of the person who wrote in to ask about her issue: GO GET THE PT. I know it’s embarrassing, but it really does help.

    And I really do wish that someone had warned me that ongoing pain was a possibility. The only place I’d ever heard of it was reading through The Good Girl’s Guide while I was engaged, but it’s one of those things that I didn’t think would actually happen to me. Until I found myself unable to consummate until the 4th try on my honeymoon, and that was me feeling like I had to just suck it up and push through the pain, and it never let up. The church we were attending at the time did a Passion Pursuit Sunday School class for the ladies during my first year of marriage, and I ended up dropping out after finding that there was NOTHING in there about actual physical pain and feeling like a failure. (My current church did it as a Bible study last year, and I did make it through that time, and the ladies there were very encouraging to me every time I broke down crying, but I still can’t say that particular study helped my situation.)

    I guess all that is just to say that if I’d known earlier that I’m not the only one that this happens to, and that there were places I could go to get help sooner, or if I’d been brave enough to ask my doctor within that first year what I could do, then maybe I would have learned to enjoy sex by now. Don’t be me.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you for sharing that, Becky! It’s actually fascinating how the pelvic floor muscles are connected to everything else. I know Rebecca had hip issues, too, and she was getting exercises to help deal with that. It is so interconnected.

      I second what you said–see the pelvic floor physiotherapist now, even if it’s awkward. It’s not going to get any less awkward, and the longer you wait, the more psychological and emotional scars you cause, too, just from feeling depressed and inadequate.

      Reply
      • Becky

        I’m actually very curious to see what sort of percentage your survey turns up on how many of us that grew up in the church have had to deal with this sort of thing. In my previous research on vaginismus, nearly all of the articles where women talk about their experience with it have been from women who attended youth groups and grew up in church and such. And out of all of those, your articles are the only ones I’ve read where the author still considers herself to be Christian. It was very discouraging for me to keep getting the message that the key to overcoming it is to ditch all of that religious repression, but they actually have a point in a way. Leaving aside the men’s vs. women’s pleasure issue that’s come up here so much lately, since I never heard about that much at all growing up, the teaching I got on sex while I was single was so one-sided. It was all about the Bad Stuff that premarital sex brings into your life, and I never heard what about it within marriage was supposed to be the Good Stuff. Other than having kids, and maybe some vague idea that it’s supposed to be fun. I never understood how one can flip the switch between yesterday before I got married, this is bad, and today after I got married, it’s suddenly good. Even though I wouldn’t wish my experience on anyone, I’m glad that these things are starting to be discussed, because I want better teaching for my kids. Especially my daughter.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Absolutely, Becky! I want that, too. I’m really interested to see what we find as well. I know that secular studies have shown that vaginismus is higher in religiously conservative communities, and so more of us do deal with it.

          To me, the answer isn’t in changing the Christian sexual ethic, but instead in talking about sex in a much better way. So I’m looking forward to figuring out what that better way is!

          Reply
          • Becky

            Yeah, totally didn’t mean to potentially imply that the Christian sexual ethic is flawed. I’m looking forward to following this conversation as it develops, too.

          • Jane Eyre

            Thinking about this a lot, I’m guessing that some of the problem is an unintended consequence of the Christian pre-marital sexual ethic (many don’t kiss until their wedding day; many more do nothing more than kiss; then they have sex on their wedding night). The zero-to-sixty nature of it makes women associate almost all sexual touch with the pain of intercourse, so sexual touch is not arousing, and since that’s not arousing, intercourse is painful. Repeat until you have quite a problem on your hands.

            One solution would be for the couple (even if they consummate their marriage on their wedding night or the next morning) to spend part of their honeymoon deliberately avoiding intercourse, but “aiming for arousal,” as you put it. That might be rather frustrating for the new husband, but would help his new bride to learn to be aroused, and for that arousal to not be the prequel to pain.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            That’s really interesting! I never thought of that. We’ll look into that!

  3. Arwen

    One of the great things about the culture i grew up in is how the community comes together to help the community and motherhood is no different. It’s a tradition that whenever a mother gives birth there needs to be at least 2 women or more, but no less, with her at all times until the baby turns 1 years old. Mothers are taken care of arm and feet 24/7. When my older sister gave birth the only thing she did was breast feed and pump, so that at night the volunteering ladies can feed the baby, change, rock, clean the house, etc. while she got full nights sleep.

    I think part of 3rd way feminism has women feeling guilty if they aren’t superwomen. It’s okay to say i’m weak, i can’t do everything because no one can, not even men. I mean look at them they get a headache and think the world is coming to an end. If more mothers were taken care of in the beginning like we do back home i really believe PPD will be far lower than it is right now. Sleep deprivation contributes a LOT to a persons mental state.

    Having someone there relieves both mother and father. I really don’t think fathers should take on the full responsibility either simply because they need to work and if he’s sleep deprived too that’s a disaster waiting to happen. So i think communities, family members, friends, church, etc. need to step up to the plate. It’s unacceptable to leave two people to fend for themselves with a newborn, especially those who have twins, yikes! It’s wonderful to see Rebecca has that community around her. I pity those mothers and fathers who don’t, i can’t image how exhausted and depressed they are.

    Volunteer if you can or send your teenage daughters to volunteer. It’s rewarding!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Amen! It just reminds me I need to do more for the women in my circle who give birth. I’ve been really good with family, but what about those who don’t have family?

      Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      I LOVE that recommendation about sending teenagers to volunteer!!! Honestly, the whole motherhood transition is so much easier because I spent so much time with babies and newborns when I was in high school. In contrast, I have friends who had never held a newborn before until they had their own! It’s very daunting.

      Community is so incredibly important, Arwen, you’re totally right!

      Reply
    • Natalie

      Arwen, what culture did you grow up in?!?! That sounds AMAZING!!!!! Man, what I wouldn’t give to have that much help for the first year, especially with babies #2, 3, etc.
      That’s an aspect of modern American society that is SERIOUSLY lacking! I don’t think it was always that way in centuries past, but it certainly is today.

      Reply
    • Brievel

      Having no support group is less depressing than an anti-support group, which is what my husband and I had the first time around. Exhausting, yes, especially with another one not quite two. But it’s much, much easier to do things by myself (for the most part I try to get my husband to sleep, he had a very physically taxing job, nightshift of course,) than be fending off passive-aggression from in-laws or parenting-over from my mother.

      Reply
  4. Ina

    I haven’t listened to the podcast yet, but just reading this post had me in tears this morning. Postpartum recovery is so challenging and I can’t imagine having the additional pain of that rash! I’ve been thinking of Rebecca a lot this week with me being 40 weeks now and having prodromal labor. Now I think I’ll start using these contractions as reminders to pray for her and other new moms I know. As painful and tiring as labor is, it really is just the beginning.

    And, I’ll echo what everyone else has said. Get physio. I was so nervous about making my appointment and awkward about the idea of internal work at first but our marriage is worth it. Now I’m so grateful. My physiotherapist was so professional and so kind and it has had the added benefit of making this pregnancy way less painful for my sciatic pain. And if anyone reading is really really shy, let me encourage you. That was me. I’m extremely private. But now I can literally laugh and chat my way through a pelvic floor manual lengthening session. You really do get used to it.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you for that, Ina! I love how women are speaking up and saying, “Yes, it’s embarrassing, but you can do it!” Absolutely.

      Reply
      • RNmom

        I don’t like to think about my post-partum period at all. I was so depressed and I didn’t know it. I just thought I was a horrible mom. I didn’t feel what I thought I should but I just kept going. She was in the hospital for a week with horrible jaundice and I was breast feeding so when I was discharged I slept on a couch in a small office for 4 days. I got a phone call every two hrs to come breastfeed and my nipples were sore and cracked and bleeding but my milk had not come in yet. It was so stressful and I was so exhausted I couldn’t think. I remember a nurse telling me she was going to give the baby a bottle so I could have a break and when she walked out she had an argument outside the door with another nurse about supplement feedings and the nurse told the one arguing that it would do the baby no good to kill the mother with stress. I think I was so exhausted that it took almost a yr before I was even functioning like a normal person. The sleepless nights in the hospital bled into long sleepless nights at home breastfeeding and long days alone with husband at work and no visitors. No meals were offered. No babysitter provided. My husband would come home and I’d just walk outside and cry and cry. It was horrible. I was very apprehensive about getting pregnant again after things calmed down but with my second it was smooth sailing. Help would have been nice but I made it alone and enjoyed every step. It’s so weird how different births can be. I feel very guilty about how my depression probably effected my bonding with my oldest. She has alot of anger issues and trouble relating to others….I often think it stems from how unloved she must have felt at the beginning of her life.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Oh, wow! That must have been so tough. I had cracked nipples with one of my girls, but it didn’t last very long, and my milk always came in easily, despite any other problems I had. How difficult! I’m glad your second was much easier. But, yes, we don’t talk about this enough, and I don’t think we help young moms enough.

          Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      And also, I’ve said a prayer for your safe delivery and easy postpartum period, too.

      Reply
    • Endowarrior

      One condition that is not well understood in the general public and is often not spoken about is endometriosis. This is such an important condition to discuss (and important to educate men and husbands as well) as Endometriosis can cause severe pelvic pain amongst other nasty symptoms such as severe fatigue, nausea, vomiting and other GI symptoms. Due to the disabling symptoms of endometriosis, it can have profoundly negative effects on women’s daily lives and on marriages and relationships in general.
      I believe I have had Endometriosis since around the time of my first period (approx 1993)…though I wasn’t diagnosed until 2013!! I always had severe pain with my periods…and then the pain started to continue between periods.
      The pain can debilitating to the point where you can’t get out of bed.
      Of course endometriosis can interfere with sex as well. Aside from the chronic pelvic pain it can cause pain with intercourse. I’m sure the details of how it affects sex vary from woman to woman…but for me it causes deep pain with intercourse…so positions that don’t hurt are limited. This means I never really look forward to intercourse. Oral sex or manual stimulation are way better and don’t cause pain… thankfully I can enjoy these types of sex. My husband is thankfully understanding and doesn’t push me…but this situation is very difficult for him. There have been many times I have been at a complete loss of what to do to help the situation.
      The only way to get an official diagnosis is through surgery.
      Pelvic physio can help symptoms…but not always. Hormone medication that suppresses everything (hormonal birth control and other more endometriosis specific drugs) can also help a lot….but often causes unwanted side effects or may not work. Then there’s surgery to remove endometriosis: this can be life-changing for some women, but not all: I had excision surgery to remove my endometriosis in 2013 (the recommended type of surgery for removing endometriosis)…and I still have pain…and I still have to take hormone suppressants. So after years of debating and figuring out whether I could even come off my drugs to try and get pregnant (I can’t without becoming quite ill) I have decided to go ahead with a hysterectomy. My surgeon is very hopeful that this will help my pelvic pain. I am hopeful too. I don’t know what I would do without my faith and belief that God is sovereign over this situation. My greatest sources of support have been through non-Christian resources. I’m so glad these resources and professionals are there to help women line me, but I also wish the church would be more supportive in these types of situations. In case it may help others, two incredible resources for endometriosis are the following:
      1.http://www.bcwomens.ca/our-services/gynecology/pelvic-pain-endometriosis
      2.https://endometriosisnetwork.com/
      I hope this information will help someone out there!

      Reply
  5. Sarah O

    Rebecca I am so sorry to hear about pupps! I have not had it but I get hormonal hives with pregnancy and breastfeeding. My two go-tos are baking soda paste and a Colloidal oatmeal bath and paste. They worked way better than anything I got at the doctor or the store. I sure hope it lets up soon!

    I haven’t dealt with vaginismus, but first baby got a second degree tear with stitches (epidural) that was murder. Second pregnancy was a set of twins which we had with no pain meds, vaginal, one footling breech. Got a first degree tear and two stitches, but overall walking around and felt great right after (the birth itself on the other hand…)

    Due to deliver a third time in Jan with a surprise baby – we’ll see how that goes.

    You can’t really prepare for the postpartum period because you don’t know what you’re dealing with until you get there. You will have physical, emotional, and mental symptoms, but you have no idea what they will be and Th errs a pretty long list of options.

    Arwen, love the sound of having two ladies around the whole time. I have a wonderful family but they all work and don’t necessarily live close by. Also I work full time. I loved getting to know my sweet babies, but my goodness we were exhausted and filled with dread of having to return to work before we were ready. (Dad got 2-3 weeks, I got 8-12 which is better than most in the US). Having help with other kids and housework and getting time to sleep would have made a huge difference.

    Reply
  6. Phil

    Ouch! So sorry you have to go through all that!

    Reply
  7. Chris

    Just looked up pupps online! OMG! Rebecca are you ok!???!?? I might even have nightmares now! Lord that looks awful! Hope all is healing well!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’ve honestly never seen anything like it. But in the last two days or so I think she’s turned a corner. There are now white (normal) patches between the one big hive covering everything, so that’s a good sign.

      Reply
  8. Natalie

    Oh man!!! Rebecca, you are a CHAMP!

    Reply
    • Natalie

      (whoops, hit “enter” too soon)

      Perhaps the silver lining of my reproductive/sex life issues (i.e. extraordinarily painful menses, not orgasming, & being part of the >1% of those who undergo an ECV procedure to flip a breech baby that then results in an emergency c-section) is that at least my pregnancies and postpartum recoveries have been pretty benign, all things considered.

      Something for cracked nipples btw that actually my son’s dentist recommended are silver nipple covers. Weird, right? They totally work!!! Way more effective in my experience than nipple balm, though that’s helpful too. And using a nipple shield to give the nip a break and give it some time to heal.
      https://www.amazon.com/Silverette-Original-Silver-Nursing-Cups/dp/B00D4MWKNQ

      Red raspberry leaf tea also helps tone the uterus & can help in the postpartum recovery process. I always had a huge quart-full with me during each breastfeeding session in the first month+ postpartum. And crampbark tea was also very effective in relieving the postpartum cramping for me too.

      I totally agree that the more help you have during “the 4th trimester”, the better you’ll recover & the better you’ll bond with baby too. Still wish we had help for the whole first year like Arwen’s culture, but I guess help in the first month or two is better than none.

      Reply
      • Natalie

        Oh, and one more thing about sitz baths: once you’re cleared to take a bath, it’s really relaxing to put the herbs and salt mixture into a regular bath instead of just soak your whole body. You could also make some sitz bath “tea”, let it cool, and fill a peri bottle and rinse your vulva/perineum/anus with it that way. 👌🏼 My doulas gave me a sitz bath basin too and I never even used it cuz I couldn’t figure it out and opted for relaxing (& falling asleep lol) in the tub instead. 😋

        Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I love the term “4th trimester!” I’ve never heard that. Makes so much sense!

        Reply
        • Natalie

          Oh yeah, it’s totally a thing! My OB and the midwives in his practice as well as my doula all checked up on me for the 12 weeks postpartum. Thankfully I was staying with my parents for that whole time and had their help for both pregnancies/postpartum. The greatest physical changes your body goes through after giving birth happens in the 12 weeks after birth (even though you can often have sex after 6 weeks… you’re still recovering even after 6 weeks). That period should be respected as such.
          I think our North American culture is finally starting to realize that.

          Reply
  9. Dawn

    I have sooo much sympathy for Rebecca! I just gave birth to my 2nd eight days ago, and I also got PUPPP, both for a few weeks before delivery (mostly on my bump) and then also, to my suprise, having it get worse and extend all over my body after the delivery. When combined with a super-intense precipitous labour and post-partum preeclampsia, so far this has been a more difficult recovery than I anticipated. Can’t wait for the itching to be over, and hoping & praying the same for Rebecca!!!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      She’s slowly on the mend! At least she didn’t have it while going through labour. It really is awful, isn’t it? Saying a prayer for you too! Rebecca says to tell you that hers is going away now, and her baby is two and a half weeks old. So there is hope!

      She had six really, really bad days and then it got a lot more manageable. And she says to tell you that you should have an oatmeal bath every night, along with getting the high intensity cream. Also the Lidocaine spray is helpful to take away some itch temporarily.

      Reply
  10. Cristi

    Thank you for sharing what postpartum is really like and how society can better support moms. I don’t think I really got a chance to recover after giving birth to any of our children. My first was born in a military hospital overseas. She had three appointments in the first week — passport photos, other citizenship paperwork, pediatrician visit, etc. My second was born two days before Christmas. We had family in the area, but their idea of support was inviting us all over to their house for meals (which required getting me, baby, and big sister dressed each day). Our son also had a two day old check-up back in the hospital on Christmas morning and a pediatrician visit the first week. I was forced to rest about a week after delivery because I was too feverish with mastitis to get out of bed. My third was an emergency c-section. I was discharged barely two days later, but then had to choose between visiting my critically ill baby in the NICU or staying in bed at home an hour a way.

    Reply
  11. Blessed Wife

    I had two C-section births, followed by a successful vbac with my third. There were two very small tears, just large enough that the midwife thought it best to stitch them. I had an adverse reaction to the suture material, and grew a ring of painful granular tissue around my vagina. Our first attempts at sex after the third baby were prohibitively painful, almost like losing my virginity all over again. (A horribly painful process that required seven attempts to achieve even partial success.) Getting rid of the scar tissue required two treatments of heavily applied silver nitrate to burn off all the scar tissue that formed, but I was able to avoid a scar revision surgery.

    My takeaways were:

    1) If ANYTHING hurts sexually, ladies, do not be embarrassed to speak up and seek qualified help. Being able to enjoy a lifetime of pleasure with your husband is definitely worth the embarrassment or discomfort of corrective treatment!

    2) Don’t just settle for any doctor. I had to go an hour-and-a-half from home to find an OBGYN who was truly knowledgeable about the field, but she is fantastic! Super knowledgeable, brutally honest, but also a fountain of understanding and encouragement. I encountered many doctors who either didn’t know what they were talking about, or who lied to me deliberately to get the outcome they wanted. Which leads to my next point:

    3) Know your body, and do your research. The more you read and seek answers, the better you’re equipped to find the right help.

    Good luck, Rebecca! I’m glad to see in some of your mom’s comments that you’re improving. Hopefully you will recover fully very, very soon!

    Reply
  12. IT Guy

    My wife had a 3rd degree tear with our first & the difference between recovery with the first & second (no tear) is beyond words. It sounds like Rebecca & Sheila both had worse tears than she did. You have my sympathy.
    I understand that mom’s body is rocked in even more ways than that. For example, my wife had terrible pain from breastfeeding. However, regarding your comment about husbands impatient for sex, I’d like to point out that your response allows for only one definition of sex (the baby making kind). Sometimes what husband needs is a long shower together – something she may benefit from as well. He probably just wants a happy ending attached to time dedicated to connecting with his wife. Men get Oxytocin primarily during orgasm.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Thank you for the sympathy!! 🙂 It is appreciated.

      I personally think when it comes for husbands wanting an orgasm, which requires effort and time from his wife who’s going through recovery, that is still pretty selfish, no matter how it happens. Seriously, if a husband asks a wife who has just had her entire body destroyed less than six weeks ago for an orgasm I think the appropriate response is, “Seriously, dude? You’re kidding, right?” Most women can’t have the pleasure reciprocated in those situations–you just DON’T want to be touched down there at all, and you’re not actually medically cleared to have sex until 6 weeks at a MINIMUM–it’s extended for more complicated recoveries like severe tears. I think that having time to snuggle, hug, kiss, and the like is really important (and also releases oxytocin in men’s brains, as does snuggling with baby skin-on-skin and actually watching his wife breastfeed the child, studies have shown) but I would advise husbands against asking for any sort of sexual favour during the recovery period whatsoever. And even after that, go at your wife’s pace, especially if sex was mutually enjoyed and frequent before the baby came. Women recover at different rates and you don’t want to create sexual problems by pushing it too fast.

      Reply
      • Lisa

        If any human being finds that they only get an oxytocin release from orgasm, I suggest getting into therapy with a licensed therapist. That could be a sign of repressed emotional growth which, unfortunately, out society and many church cultures consider normal. It’s not normal. It may be normative, but it’s not normal to need an orgasm to bond and feel close.

        Reply
    • Blessed Wife

      My husband was so sweet and considerate during my recoveries! He didn’t even hint at any needs of his, even though he was used to several times a week up til labor commenced. The first three or four weeks, I thought nothing of it, being caught up in coping with a demanding newborn, recovering from surgery, etc. I was also acutely aware that this was the most revoltingly unsexy time (to me) of my adult life. Around week four, it hit me that my husband had not indicated the least antsiness to have sex, and I asked him about it; whether he was feeling deprived by our complete lack of activity. (A tiny part of me also wondered if he no longer found me attractive, though I don’t believe I asked that.) He gave me a shocked look and said, “Well, what would you expect me to say? ‘Hey, baby, since you’ve been up all night…’? Of course, I want to baby, but it can wait. You just had a baby!” I thought that was one of the most selfless, considerate things I’d ever heard just then! It made me feel so incredibly lucky to be married to such a man! And I looked forward to resuming relations, without feeling pressured.

      Regarding the timing- I always held off until just before my 6wk follow-up visit, so that I could tell my doctor if I noticed any problems with sex. But obviously with a serious tear or anything, you’d need to wait longer.

      Reply
  13. LM

    Postpartum, I actually had a loss of feeling down there. I would get scared that the pleasurable sensations wouldn’t come back, but they always did. If something felt good, it was because he was scratching an itch 😂 (you know what healing itchiness feels like!).

    Reply

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