Masturbating Postpartum? A Pelvic Floor Therapist Shares What to Know

Exploring masturbation and self-pleasure postpartum may feel intimidating, but you can use them as powerful tools to reconnect with yourself after birth. A pelvic floor physiotherapist shares more.

As women, sexual satisfaction is vital to our overall sense of well-being. Yet, approaching self-pleasure can be daunting, with so much shame associated with masturbation.

Add the complexities of the emotional, mental, hormonal, and physical changes we experience after birth; masturbation can feel like a ‘no go’ zone.

hand on a half melon on a pink background

Why postpartum masturbation is helpful

Intimacy is crucial to healthy relationships. With over eighty percent of women who have experienced birth trauma stating that their sex lives have been impacted after birth, postpartum sex is a crucial topic to discuss.

Masturbation is an aspect of sex that we should not overlook. Masturbation is an essential practice for new mothers to feel more at home in their bodies after birth, amplifying their sense of sensuality and womanhood.

Read next: What to Expect: Pelvic Floor Issues in Postpartum

Postpartum pelvic health concerns such as prolapse and incontinence affect many mothers, and orgasms provide powerful pelvic floor stimulation, supporting positive pelvic health.

Masturbation is an important avenue for new mothers to feel more at home in their bodies after birth.

Masturbation is also a safe and healthy way to gently ease into sex after birth. By getting to know their postpartum body through self-pleasure, women can feel more confident to guide their partner(s) during sex leading to more pleasurable and pain-free sex after birth. 

In short, masturbation can provide an invaluable avenue for postpartum body connection, body awareness, and whole-body pleasure.

So, how can we ensure we approach masturbation safely after birth? Read on. Your postpartum pleasure awaits.

a woman in bed using a vibrator masturbating postpartum

What to know about postpartum masturbation

Physically, how soon can you masturbate postpartum?

When we think about ‘safe masturbation,’ what generally comes to mind is the physical safety of our body.

There are some general postpartum healing guidelines to follow around masturbation:

  • Nothing in the vagina for six weeks (unless told otherwise by your doctor)
  • Wait for all lacerations and stitches to heal for vaginal masturbation
  • Clitoral masturbation is okay (but wait four weeks post-cesarean birth)

Sometimes, women aren’t sure what they are worried about but feel cautious about masturbating, wondering if they will cause themselves damage or harm.

When women contemplate masturbation after birth, their biggest concerns might be:

  • What used to feel good feels different (or painful)
  • Their body feeling foreign and unfamiliar
  • Worsening existing pelvic conditions (such as incontinence, prolapse, or perineal tears)

Take things slowly, and stop if something feels off or causes discomfort.

postpartum woman laying in bed masturbating

Consider your emotional readiness

Another huge concern for women is their psychological and emotional safety. It’s critical to note that your emotional safety is just as important as your physical safety. 

Emotional safety is of the highest relevance and priority during intimacy, whether with ourselves alone or with a partner. Depending on a woman’s birth experience, the thought of bringing attention to her pelvic bowl can be daunting and confronting.

Read next: Was Your Birth Traumatic? What It Is and How to Overcome It

Approaching the pelvic bowl, in particular sensually or sexually, can bring up a range of emotions. Women who have experienced birth trauma, particularly perineal tearing and episiotomy problems, often feel overwhelmed by the thought of intimate touch.

Masturbation and intimacy after a traumatic birth

Intimacy can cause emotions and sensations of birth trauma to resurface. Women who experience postpartum pelvic issues such as incontinence and prolapse also find intimacy troubling due to lowered body confidence, decreased self-esteem, and sensations of being ‘broken’ or ‘damaged.’

Approaching masturbation in your own time.

Offer self-respect, self-love, self-compassion, self-kindness, and self-acknowledgment for the whole-body changes of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum to help feel safe. 

Often, women who experience birth trauma, birth injuries, and postpartum pelvic problems, are left feeling unsupported, unseen, and not listened to by health professionals.

When women seek help, their care provider may tell them their experience is normal, but that validation doesn’t make the process any easier to navigate.

a woman in bed using a vibrator masturbating postpartum

Using masturbation to reconnect to your body

Even without trauma, injury, or pelvic concerns, postpartum intimacy can feel overwhelming due to the incredible transformation women move through in all aspects of life after birth.

They are reconnecting to the whole body, particularly the pelvic bowl, in a gentle and integrated way that supports women in feeling safe during intimacy.

A holistic approach to healing, one that considers a woman’s physical, emotional, mental, energetic, and spiritual aspects, is most valuable. Practices that support women to reconnect to themselves after birth include:

  • Sharing birth stories in safe spaces, 
  • Movement, 
  • Pelvic bowl breathing, 
  • Abdominal massage, 
  • Pelvic floor relaxation, connection, and strengthening exercises 

When a woman feels safe and ready, masturbation can also help her to reconnect to herself after birth. If a woman doesn’t feel safe in any regard, masturbation will not only feel overwhelming but can also amplify a sense of disconnect.

Approaching masturbation in your own time, offering deep self-respect, self-love, self-compassion, self-kindness, and self-acknowledgment for the whole-body changes of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum help us to feel safe. 

woman in bath making a gesture with her hands

Tips for postpartum masturbation

1. Your hands and water-based lubricants are the only tools you need. 

While using vibrators, wands, or other sex toys is not a problem, our hands are often an overlooked and undervalued ‘tool’ in the bedroom.

Using your hands and natural, water-based lubricants, if you need them, provides you with an opportunity to explore your body after birth truly.

Self-touch can offer an additional layer of feedback that sex toys and tools cannot.

After delivery, our body tissue may have changed due to stretching, sutures, scarring, or structures shifting. Using our hands to explore our bodies after birth can help us to become more familiar with these subtle shifts and get to know our feminine landscape intimately. 

Sometimes, vibrators or vibrators may feel like a more comfortable and accessible place to begin. Provided they are in good condition, cleaned properly, and don’t cause any pain, using sex toys is safe.

Either way, you will be exploring your body and getting to know what feels good. So go ahead, enjoy.

someone holding up an assortment of vibrators

2. Tender tissues need attention

After birth, it is common for women to experience some tissue tenderness.

Tenderness can be due to scar tissue that forms as a result of perineal tears or episiotomy.

While it is usual for scar tissue to be tender in the early stages of postpartum recovery, persistent pain is not normal. It can lead to ongoing pain with sex after birth. Tending to delicate tissues with gentle self-massage can provide incredible relief. 

Once perineal tissues have healed sufficiently for self-massage to commence, massaging the perineum with a water-based lubricant can support tissue healing and recovery.

Postpartum perineal massage differs from birth-preparation perineal massage. It focuses on stimulating normal skin sensations, increasing blood flow, softening scar tissue, and promoting healthy regeneration of connective tissue.

Perineal massage can be performed externally on the outer perineal tissue and internally at the base of the entrance of the vaginal.

  • Using two fingers on the outer perineal tissue, gentle sweeping motions in multiple directions are helpful.
  • Forwards and backward, side to side, and small circles are recommended.
  • Internally at the entrance of the vagina, gentle sweeping motions with a thumb can promote positive tissue healing.

Intuitive self-massage, where you allow your body to guide you, is safe and powerful.

Provided tissues have adequately healed (you may need to check with your chosen care provider), you use clean hands, no pain is experienced, and only natural vulva-safe and vagina-safe lubricants are used, perineal massage is safe.

It can help completely transform a woman’s experience of self-pleasure and sex. 

woman in denim jeans rubbing a papaya

Final thoughts on postpartum masturbation

If you are curious about masturbation after birth, know that it is safe to enjoy and that you are your best guide. Generally, if it feels good, it’s safe; if not, stop.

If you need more support in postpartum pelvic care and navigating sex and intimacy after birth, I recommend seeking the support of a women’s health physiotherapist.

You can also find much more depth on this topic and more in my book Body Conscious a woman’s guide to holistic pelvic wellness and feminine embodiment, available on Amazon.

Taryn Gaudin

Women’s Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and Whole Body Connection Guide

As an athlete and mother of three, one of Taryn’s core specialties is helping women of all levels return to exercise safely after birth to continue enjoying the exercise they love. Taryn’s has a unique approach to postpartum care. Overcoming her own challenges with pelvic pain, she spent the last 6 years developing an alternative therapeutic approach to women's wellness combining clinical evidence-based physiotherapy with energy medicine. Reflecting a deep appreciation of the connectedness of the physical, emotional, and spiritual body, her approach has been pivotal in uncovering the core issues of her patients' physical pelvic symptoms.

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