If you're a new parent recovering from a C-section but also feeling frisky, you may be wondering exactly what you’re allowed to do in the bedroom. Most people know penetrative sex is off-limits for a little while after birth, but how soon can you masturbate after a C-section? It may be sooner than you think, though you'll have to proceed with caution.
Everyone's heard that sex is a no-go for at least six weeks after giving birth, whether you've delivered vaginally or via C-section, but obviously masturbation can be a little different than penetration or oral sex. Masturbation also relieves stress, helps you sleep, and feels good. As a new parent, you could probably use all of those things right now.
When can you masturbate after a C-section?
"Although it is routinely recommended to abstain from all sexual activity for six weeks after delivering a baby, including via C-section, there are some forms of activity which may be safe much sooner than this lengthy time frame," OB-GYN Dr. Kyrin Dunston tells Romper. "Masturbation using direct clitoral stimulation only, without inserting anything into the vagina, can probably be safely practiced around four weeks after a C-section." A quick anatomy lesson here: The clitoris is a group of nerve endings that are in the shape of a pearl right above your urethra. You literally need it for nothing except pleasure — that's its only function.
It’s important to discuss any intimate interests with your doctor to make sure it’s a safe idea for you. “There are some patients that do have sexual arousal postpartum and do have the desire to partake in sexual intimacy postpartum,” Jessica Shepherd, M.D., OB-GYN and partner with Happy V, tells Romper. “Depending on their recovery and when they have followed up with their doctor, this can be discussed individually as people recover very differently.”
If you typically use some accessories in bed, is it safe to use toys like a vibrator postpartum? “Vibrators are safe to use externally,” says Shepherd. “However, if there were any lacerations or repairs postpartum in the vaginal area, it is important for that area to heal entirely before using a vibrator to decrease risk of further injury or infection.”
The bottom line: Dunston recommends waiting the whole six weeks before masturbating, if you can manage it. If you are super aroused during the wait period, she says you can go with clitoral stimulation only. Even then, however, she suggests waiting at least four weeks post C-section. Additionally, it's recommended that you contact your doctor or midwife before engaging in any sexual activity whatsoever, including masturbation (penetrating and non-penetrating).
“Sexual intercourse can be a wonderful part of the postpartum experience,” adds Shepherd. “Intimacy can be explored in many ways other than penetrative sex, so it should be discussed in detail with your health care provider.”
First orgasm after a C-section
There’s also obviously the possibility of having an orgasm. Usually, orgasms are a great thing, but for a healing uterus, not so much. "With orgasm comes contraction of the uterus," Dunston explains. "After a C-section, the uterus, which is a big muscle, has been surgically repaired and stitched together." Basically, having an orgasm while you’re still healing might not only be painful, but physically damaging. "The concern for the uterine contraction too soon after C-section is that the stitches may not hold the wound together and disruption will occur," she says. If you notice heavy vaginal postpartum bleeding or severe pelvic pain following an orgasm achieved by post C-section masturbation, these may be symptoms of wound disruption for which you'd need to be seen right away.
Most people will have a good amount of cramping as the uterus is shrinking back down. “Cramping will likely get worse if you have an orgasm,” board-certified OB-GYN Dr. Barbara McLaren warns, “because orgasms also cause the uterus to contract. If you're having a lot of cramping already, I would not recommend trying to have an orgasm because it will make it worse, at least temporarily.”
Another thing to consider is whether you’re breastfeeding, which causes even more cramping, McLaren tells Romper. “Breastfeeding stimulates oxytocin, which stimulates cramping to help the uterus to return to its normal size,” she explains, suggesting ibuprofen for cramps before attempting orgasm. McLaren also notes that it might be more difficult to reach orgasm postpartum, but especially for breastfeeding people, as hormones like estrogen are repressed.
If you're feeling anxious about lack of sexual pleasure during your healing time, remember that it's temporary. Soon enough, when you're healed, getting a little more sleep, and on a more predictable routine with your baby, you'll get your groove back. And you'll be able to have it any way you want it.
Kyrin Dunston, M.D., OB-GYN based in Atlanta
Jessica Shepherd, M.D., OB-GYN and partner with Happy V
Dr. Barbara McLaren, board-certified OB-GYN and co-founder of Kushae feminine wellness products
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