It’s been so long since the last time: Sex after a long break

Sex with someone new is always daunting.

Having sex with someone new, when it’s been a while, only adds to the potential nervousness, anxiety and worry of the whole situation.

For many single mums it’s sometimes been years … or decades since they’ve had sex with someone new. It’s totally normal to have concerns, or even wonder if it’s all still working properly ‘down there’.

Let’s be honest, getting ‘back on the horse’ isn’t a decision to be made lightly. There are all these feelings to consider, along with the question of possible impacts on your kids and whether you’re doing the right thing.

Logistics aside, like when are you even going to have time to meet someone, allow them to progress and then get time alone, there’s probably a few other things on your mind too.

Your body has likely changed all over since the last time you were out dating. The most common worry I hear from women having sex any time post-childbirth is: What does it all look like ‘down there’ now? Yes, it’s possible that your vulva and vagina have changed in both appearance and even sensation since birthing your babies.

Of course, this can impact your confidence and might even leave you ‘stuck in your head’ worrying during sex … or have you put the brakes on before things get that far.

Let’s cover some facts on biology and sexual function to put your mind at ease first.


Your (beautiful) lady garden

Yes, it’s possible that your vagina is changed following childbirth. Many women report little change or a fast recovery to how things were. Other women, particularly those experiencing tearing and subsequent scars will notice more lasting changes.

The truth is like many aspects of a woman’s body, it’s actually how we feel about it – rather than how it looks that makes the difference.

Back in my university days, I once ‘modelled’ for an exhibition celebrating this special part of women’s anatomy. I won’t go into details, except to say, it was very … intimate. One of the comments the artist made (as we sat down for tea and biscuits before I posed) has always stayed with me. He said that looking at (and scuplting) over a hundred women’s genitalia, he couldn’t tell the difference between in their age or between women who’d had kids and those who hadn’t. I’ve heard so many men say the same thing.

These differences are likely more noticeable (and more of a concern) to you than anyone you’re with sexually. Which thankfully means it’s only your own thoughts you need to worry about, not your lover’s.

Pain and Numbness

It is unfortunately common for women to experience vaginal/pelvic pain for up to 12-months after giving birth. If you are experiencing vaginal pain or numbness you don’t need to put up with it. There are also steps that can be taken to reduce pain, numbness, scar tissue, as well as getting back to your pre-baby body. Speak to a trusted professional or sex therapist to support you.

It’s probably still working

Age actually has less of an impact on sexual function that we tend to think. We can enjoy satisfying, loving sex lives into our 70s and 80s – so chances are everything is still working for you! If it’s been a while – it might just take you a bit longer to warm up – or it might not! But let me promise, it’s still possible for you to enjoy sex, whatever your age.

When it’s been a while, it’s likely your confidence will take some time to build up again.


Men get nervous about sex too

All this expectation that they’re totally cool and competent lovers can put pressure on men too. They have the added expectation of just knowing what to do to please you. And often, they feel like they’re not sure what to do. They can also feel really vulnerable and insecure themselves, their bodies and their sexual prowess. So just know that you’re not in this alone. You’re possibly both feeling pretty nervous.


Give yourself permission

Perceptions women have of ourselves as sexual beings can change after we become mothers. If there are any worries about how mothers ‘should’ behave sexually lurking in the back of your mind, take a closer look at them and be willing to let them go.

Give yourself permission to cultivate your sexual self. What makes you feel sexy and turned on?  Know that you’re still deserving and worthy of.

Love yourself up.

Your inner ‘mean girl’ is quite possibly the only one who is really criticising your body. Whoever you’re with sexually is likely to be just ‘bloody over the moon’ to have a naked woman in front of them!

Build confidence and love your body by looking for (at least) one thing each day that you love about your body.

Don’t be afraid to use lube

Changed lubrication is the most common reason women experience pain during sex. Hormonal changes following childbirth and as we age, can impact our lubrication. Making sure you spend adequate time in foreplay will help. Don’t be afraid to use lube either. It’s not an indication that something is ‘wrong’, it can actually enhance your experience.

Discover on your own what you enjoy

Worried that it’s not all still working? Explore what you enjoy on your own first.

Can you reach orgasm by yourself? Although it doesn’t always translate into guaranteed pleasure and orgasms with a partner (for a whole range of complex reasons) it’s a good start to knowing that you are indeed still a sexually functioning human being.

In your own time

I’d best not get started on how the new swiping culture has changed dating – and expectations around sex. Even I find myself chatting to girlfriends and asking each other ‘Really? That’s a thing now? Like a first date thing?’

You get to choose who you share your body with and when. Take your time and choose who you share yourself with carefully. As you build connection and trust with someone, you’ll be more likely to relax and enjoy your sexual experience.

Relax and enjoy yourself

The more you relax, the more you’re going to be able to enjoy yourself.

Women need at least 15-20 minutes of foreplay to fully prepare for sex, so take your time and start slowly. Taking your time will also (hopefully) help you relax.

Taking deep breaths and paying attention to your body gets you out of your head and can stop you thinking so much.

You’ve got this Mama! You deserve pleasure, playfulness and fun in the bedroom. I promise – it’s possible for you.

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Isiah McKimmie

About the author

One of Australia’s most qualified Sex and Relationship Experts , Isiah McKimmie is a Couples Therapist, Sexologist, Sex Therapist and Tantra Teacher. She’s passionate about sex education. She loves helping women get in touch with their sensuality and feel comfortable and confident about sex. And she has a special talent for helping couples reconnect and reignite intimacy.

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