Have you wondered what happens to a vagina after childbirth, or are you unsure if your post-pregnancy vagina is normal?
Will your vagina widen? How long will it hurt? When can you have sex? We’ve compiled some things you can expect to the vulva and vagina after pregnancy and childbirth. One good news is that the vagina is very resilient and with ample blood supply, it actually heals quicker than other parts of the body.
Let’s first run through a basic anatomy of the vulva and vagina.
While we often use the term ‘vagina’ to refer to the entire area inside and out, the term refers to the muscular canal. All external parts of your reproductive system are called the Vulva.
The vulva includes:
Labia majora: The fleshy, hair-covered outer folds.
Labia minora: The inner lips, which cover the vaginal opening. These can be very small, or they can extend beyond the labia majora. It’s also common for one lip to be longer than the other.
Clitoris: The nerve-rich nub at the top of the vulva, crucial to orgasm and sexual pleasure.
So how does the vagina change after childbirth?
1. You might need to wait at least 6 weeks before sex
During natural delivery as the baby passes through, there might be some internal bruising in your vagina. While not visible to the eye, there might be some soreness and tenderness that should subside within two weeks.
Doctors usually advise resting a while before getting back to sexual intercourse. Tearing and/or an episiotomy can impact recovery time and comfort, and scar tissue can cause intense pain with insertion. Some women may also not feel emotionally ready to jump back into it too quickly due to a feeling of discomfort, pain or urinary incontinence. It’s important to know that everyone’s experience is different.
2. The vagina might widen
With a strong and resilient structure, our vagina typically shrinks back after the stretching caused by vaginal birth. However, having a big baby or multiple childbirths could make it less likely to go back to 100% of what it was before. Many report a feeling like it is has widened.
This doesn’t happen to everyone but it is a normal part of how the vagina changes after childbirth. A good observation to make is through the use of a tampon. A slim tampon might feel like it is slipping down now as compared to how it used to stay firmly in place before pregnancy.
3. The vagina might become drier
When you’re pregnant, hormonal changes including estrogen are elevated and after birth, estrogen levels drop and could lead to dryness. Estrogen helps to keep vaginal tissue moist and a lack of estrogen would likely cause dryness as well as the thinning and shrinking of vaginal tissue.
4. Your labia could likely look different
Your vulva and vagina could look quite different after childbirth. Hormonal changes with pregnancy causes a rise in estrogen and progesterone that causes increased blood flow. This in term can cause the labia to darken and change in shape. The colouring and shape of the labia may return to its original appearance after pregnancy but in some cases, the change may also be longer lasting.
5. You may experience vaginal prolapse
Due to weakened pelvic muscles (usually from childbirth), the rectum, uterus, or bladder pushes on the vagina. Pelvic organ prolapse happens when the muscles that support the organs in a woman’s pelvis weaken. In severe cases, the vagina, rectum or uterus protrude out of the body. Prolapsed organs cannot heal themselves, and usually worsens over time if left untreated.
Vaginal Laxity or Vagina Relaxation Syndrome (VRS)
Pregnancy and childbirth isn’t the only factor that causes vaginal laxity or Vagina Relaxation Syndrome (VRS). Other factors include the natural process of ageing, weight gain and menopause which impact a woman’s organs and systems.
Similar to how childbirth requires the vagina to stretch during the course of delivery, weight gain does the same to stretch the body tissues and with the onset of menopause, almost all women will experience the natural process of vaginal stretching.
What causes Vaginal Laxity?
The vagina gradually changes from being an organ with a strong, thick, moist mucosal lining, able to regenerate collagen continuously, to one with a thin, frail and dry mucosal lining which is increasingly unable to regenerate new collagen fibres.
Collagen is the protein essential for strengthening connective tissue in all parts of the body including the vaginaJust as skin gradually loses moisture and elasticity, so does the vaginal wall and mucosa.
Vulva & Vaginal Repair
There are options to restore and rejuvenate the vulva and vagina, and with technology today, surgery is not the only option. Vulva & Vaginal Repair treatment at Orchard Clinic provides the fastest non-invasive radiofrequency treatment for the female intimate area.
This procedure is a great treatment for women suffering from stress incontinence, mild pelvic organ prolapse, struggle with the appearance of their vagina and the surrounding area, or those who are looking for non-surgical improvement of their intimate health.
Treatment can be combined with Emsella for pelvic floor strengthening to achieve better results. Have a chat to find out more from our friendly consultants.
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Orchard Clinic is a new treatment concept offering a unique method that provides high-quality conservative solutions for women’s postpartum body recovery.
As a postpartum assessment centre, we offer a full assessment for common conditions after childbirth.
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