5 Things That Happen to Your Vagina After You Give Birth

After nine months of pregnancy-related body changes, you may experience changes to your vagina post-birth.

Life changes after you have a baby. How could it not? You brought another human being into the world. But while everyone warns you to expect less sleep and more stress once you have a newborn to care for, few mention what happens to your vaginal area.

"Every woman is going to experience some [vaginal] changes after childbirth, and nobody is going to be exactly the same as they were before being pregnant," said Alyssa Dweck, MD, New York-based ob-gyn and co-author of The Complete A to Z for Your V.

But here's the upside. Though it's normal for things to look and feel different in your vaginal area, most of these changes subside as your hormone production and other body functions return to their regular pre-pregnancy levels, said Dr. Dweck. Plus, there are some things you can do to make the transformation shorter and less intense. Here's what to expect when you're no longer expecting.

Your Vagina Can Feel Looser

After having a baby, it's normal for your pelvic floor muscles to relax and lose a little tone. That can make the vagina feel looser, especially in the first year after delivery. "They may also feel like it's airier down there as they walk around," said Dr. Dweck.

How much roomier your vagina will feel depends on many factors, including how long you were in labor and how big your newborn was. (This is one change people who deliver via Cesarean section are unlikely to experience since the baby didn't exit through the vagina.)

If this feeling bothers you, there are steps you can take. Doing Kegel exercises (strength-training exercises in which you tighten and relax the pelvic muscles) regularly can help you go back to feeling pretty normal over time, added Dr. Dweck. Maintaining a healthy weight and taking care of your health overall will also help your vagina return to its usual size and feel.

Vaginal Dryness

Vaginal dryness is one of the most common complaints from new parents who are nursing. Breastfeeding causes estrogen levels to plunge, according to a 2017 study in Clinical Nutrition Research, and the lack of estrogen can leave some people feeling like the Sahara in their vaginal area. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists explains this is because estrogen helps maintain the vagina's lubrication, elasticity, and thickness. So low levels of estrogen can cause thinning, drying, and inflammation of vaginal walls.

Since it's tied to breastfeeding, vaginal dryness is typically temporary. "Usually, as soon as you stop nursing and resume your period, your estrogen levels boost up, you're ovulating again, and things tend to get back to normal," said Dr. Dweck.

So if you're ready to resume having sex again, but dryness is making things difficult, it's time to hit the lubricant aisle of your local pharmacy. "A lubricant is going to be vital for this," said Dr. Dweck. If using a lubricant doesn't help you get back in the groove, ask your gynecologist for a prescription estrogen vaginal cream, suggested Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale School of Medicine.


Delivering a baby can be so rough on the vagina that the surrounding tissue can tear, said Dr. Minkin. Tears are typically sewn up with dissolvable stitches immediately after the baby comes out. But recovering from the pain and trauma may take some time, especially if the tear involves not just skin but muscle as well.

"This area can feel fairly uncomfortable for some time, though it does get better within a few weeks," said Dr. Minkin. "We always encourage women to sit in a warm tub or a sitz bath to help keep swelling and pain down." Over-the-counter pain medication containing ibuprofen or naproxen can ease the discomfort too.

Color Changes

Don't be alarmed if your vulva—the area just outside the vaginal canal that includes the labia, clitoris, and the perineum (the skin between the vagina and rectum)—changes shades after delivery.

"These areas are subject to pigment changes not only due to hormone changes during pregnancy but also because of scarring or tearing [surgical] repairs after childbirth," explained Dr. Dweck. Generally speaking, the color gets darker. "Unless something looks scary like a dark mole you'd be alarmed by anywhere else on your body, there's no need for concern."

Hormone-driven color changes can affect people who have had Cesarean sections too. Whether they happen after a vaginal delivery or Cesarean, they may fade over time, but they usually don't go away for good.

Bloody Discharge

A story about vaginal changes wouldn't be complete without mentioning discharge, right? Whether you have a Cesarean section or deliver vaginally, the vagina will excrete something from the uterus called lochia, a combination of blood, mucus, and fluid. "Lochia will change color and consistency as the weeks go on," said Dr. Dweck. "And usually, by six weeks post-partum, it's finished."

There's no reason to be alarmed by lochia unless it's accompanied by a foul odor, pain, or itching. According to Dr. Dweck, once you start ovulating again and your period resumes, you'll start seeing your usual day-to-day discharge.

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