Dear Ovia, I’m just not in the mood

Dear Ovia is an ongoing series where we answer your love and relationship questions. To submit a question, send us a message on Instagram. We answer all questions anonymously.

Dear Ovia, I just got cleared for sex at my 6 week check up, but I’m just SO not in the mood…not sure what to tell my husband.

Congratulations on the birth of your baby! Fourth trimester is a whirlwind, and I’m so sorry the expectation of the big 6 week appointment has you in this position. There is really a shift happening to offer more healthcare support before and after this timeframe. Most people have questions about their recovery before 6 weeks, and ongoing needs for support afterwards.

Let’s be clear. It is 100% normal to feel like you are not recovered from birth at this point. It is 100% normal not to want to have sex. Your body is still undergoing hormonal and physical changes from birthing a human. If you are breastfeeding, this is even more pronounced. The majority of people experience low-sex drive and other symptoms (like vaginal dryness) because of milk-making hormones. Clearing people for sex at 6 weeks is — at best — a physical safety check. It’s outdated and almost never takes into account real healing and mental health (I hope your provider wouldn’t have “cleared” you if they’d known you felt this way). 

I can’t make assumptions about your husband’s knowledge about the postpartum period experience, but I am going to assume he’s a loving partner (if not or if you’re intimidated, tell him your doctor said it’s a NO GO at this point for safety reasons). In a low-key setting with your baby around, I’d tell him in simple terms that you are healing well, but aren’t ready physically or hormonally for sex yet. Straight and to the point. You love him and are happy, but don’t feel like your body is capable of that yet in an enjoyable way. 

If he responds to health information well, share the details about what happens to most people! Reassure him that many people aren’t having sex at 6 weeks, and even at 6 months. He might feel some feelings, and hopefully he will spare you any guilt. When you are ready to try, it’s helpful to explain that postpartum sex is different, and that you may need to pause or even stop mid-deed if things don’t feel okay to you. Be ready to talk about new positions, lube or intimacy that doesn’t involve penetrative sex. When you’re ready, this new stage can be an opportunity to explore new ways to be intimate together. 

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