I gave birth five months ago and still have very little interest in sex. More than that, when anything goes near my vagina I flinch. Everything has to be very gentle and slow – even then, very little penetration is possible. My husband is an excellent lover and is fine when I push him away (which happens a lot). I didn’t think mine was a particularly traumatic birth, but maybe having IVF, followed by ventouse, forceps, an episiotomy, was all too much? I’m still breastfeeding and co-sleeping, so maybe that has something to do with it? Before, we had a great sex life; we each listened to what the other wanted and it was very pleasurable. But post-birth, it has taken me a long time to let my husband even touch me. One time he caressed me at 5am and my initial reaction was to be livid about it. He understands and when I tell him it didn’t give me any pleasure, he is thoughtful about it. My friend told me I should “get back into it” because this is how the sex life of a marriage disappears. Half of me is worried I may never be interested in intimacy again. The other half knows my husband and I will be fine: we love each other and are a brilliant couple together. Will my interest in sex return organically or is it something I need to be working on?
Be kind to yourself. It is going to take a while longer to feel sexual desire and pleasure – and that is absolutely normal. Eventually your hormones will be back on track, your body will be healed, and then the natural process of feeling like your old sexual self will begin. It would be a mistake to listen to your friend and try to force yourself to go through the motions. This course of action could actually be detrimental physically and emotionally. It is never a good idea to bypass your feelings and have sex despite pain or lack of interest – that can cause more pain and can even lead to a sexual disorder. In any case, it seems your husband is being caring and sympathetic to your needs during this natural adjustment period. Listen to the half of you that believes he will continue to be fine. You deserve patience and understanding during this healing period, your husband deserves to be praised for his support … and your baby deserves your full attention.
Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.
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