After nine months of pregnancy, you think that everything is behind you. Well…almost. There are, unfortunately, some bodily changes that will take place mainly in your vagina, the most active organ in the process of delivery. Bellow, I bring up the 7 most common changes that will occur in your vagina after birth.
1) Your vagina may become looser
More than a 7-pound baby came out of your vagina… No wonder it got wider. Your pelvic floor muscle tone has decreased, and you may feel a little loose down there.
The extent of post-birth vaginal widening depends on various factors, such as birth duration, baby weight and your anatomy. Not all women suffer from loose vagina after birth and some suffer from it in a moderate way (You may notice that your tampon is not held well and tends to slide out).
In most cases, the vagina resumes 90% of its former shape and tightness around a year after birth. Maintaining proper diet, losing extra weight and exercising will help you rehabilitate your pelvic floor muscles faster.
Experts recommend Kegel exercises. What you have to do is tightly squeeze your pelvic floor muscles for 10 seconds as if you forcibly stop urinating. Then release them for another 10 seconds. Repeat this squeeze-release cycle 15-20 times a day every day.
If you feel it does not work after trying these exercises for a couple of months, you should consult your gynecologist. There are more radical solutions available including vaginoplasty.
2) You may suffer from vaginal dryness
Loss of natural moisture is one of the most common changes that may happen to your vagina after birth. This is the result of a drop in estrogen levels especially during breastfeeding. Usually, with a decrease in the frequency or a complete cessation of breastfeeding and the return of the menstrual cycle, estrogen levels rise again and the dryness goes away.
In the meantime, you can use lubricats for sex. If the dryness is severe, your gynecologist may prescribe you estrogen ointments for topical vaginal application.
3) Postpartum vaginal pain
Birth can be quite traumatic for the vagina and the tissues adjacent to it. In fact, close to 70% of deliveries end up in perineum (the area that connects the vagina to the anus) tears that require stitching.
The stitches will usually melt by themselves, but the whole process of recovery may be accompanied by pain for up to 12 weeks.
Applying epsom salt to the affected area may assist in reducing swelling. Warm water bath can also help sooth the pain. In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe you lidocaine ointments and painkillers (If you breastfeed, do not forget to mention it as some drugs are not allowed to nursing mothers).
Many women who suffer from pain in the vagina after birth are afraid to go to the bathroom. Avoiding pooping may lead to constipation, which will make things worse. It is highly advised eating foods rich in fiber (cereals, fruit and vegetables) and in severe cases – only after consulting your doctor – taking stool softeners, such as Polyethylene Glycol.
4) Your Vagina may change its color
It is very common for the vagina after birth to change its color. The area usually becomes darker as a result of hormonal processes and scarring caused by tears and stitches. The dark color will fade in time but will not disappear completely.
5) Vaginal discharge
During the first 6 weeks after delivery, you may experience what is medically referred to as lochia – a discharge of blood and mucus. This lochia will be red in the beginning containing mostly blood. In time it will become brown and yellow until it disappears.
If the discharges appear with bad smell and cause you pain or itching, you should consult your gynecologist.
6) Your period will either be stronger or lighter
It may take some time till your period returns, especially if you breastfeed. But once it returns, it may be stronger or lighter depending on the estrogen level in your body. High level of estrogen leads to more intense periods and vice versa.
7) Your orgasms might be less intense
Your vagina after pregnancy will function less efficiently when it comes to orgasms. Female orgasm is generated by rhythmic contractions of the muscles in the vagina. Weakened pelvic floor muscles will cause these contractions to be less intense making sexual climax not as strong as it used to be before birth. Strengthening pelvic muscles will significantly improve your sex life after pregnancy.