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How women's vaginas change after childbirth

What happens to a woman’s vagina after childbirth?

How the vagina changes after childbirth [Universityofliverpool]

What is the extent of the stretch? Will there be potential tearing? What sensations will be experienced after birth?

Here are five ways the vagina will change:

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After birth, the vagina may appear wider and slightly darker. Scarring and trauma during delivery can affect the appearance of the opening of the vagina but do not significantly affect the vagina itself. The vagina is a tube surrounded by muscle, and the tone of the vagina is not due to the inner surface of the vagina but to the surrounding muscle. Also, the vagina's (new) appearance will depend on individual circumstances.

After giving birth, women will experience soreness, bruising, swelling, and increased sensitivity in their vagina. This may be more pronounced for those who gave birth for the first time, experienced tearing, or had vaginal sutures. Even if you had a caesarean operation, a vaginal examination by a doctor can also cause swelling and tissue damage that may take time to heal. The good news is that these symptoms should improve over time.

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Sex drive is diminished, and the vagina might be as dry as a desert. Hormonal fluctuations can cause vaginal dryness, as oestrogen and progesterone levels drop during the postpartum period. However, normal vaginal lubrication should return once cycles return. It is advised that women not have sex until six weeks after childbirth.

Vaginal or perineum tearing or sutures from an episiotomy ( a cut made in the tissue between the vaginal opening and the anus during childbirth) can cause pain even after recovery. When these areas heal, scar tissues are formed to toughen the area and hold the two sides together. However, the vaginal area is not meant to be tough and inflexible, so the scar needs to disappear. It takes about a year for the scar tissue to remodel and loosen up.

There is a loss of muscle tone after childbirth. Research from Johns Hopkins Medicine indicates that pelvic floor muscle strength remains slightly affected even a decade after vaginal childbirth, causing a slight loss of vaginal muscle tone. This may cause sex-related changes after birth. While the change in muscle tone is usually minor for most women, it is recommended to exercise to strengthen the vagina post-birth.

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The billion-dollar question is: will the vagina return to its normal shape? After having a baby, the vagina may not return to its former state, but it will likely be very close due to its ability to expand and retract, as well as its elasticity.

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