Fit2B is a family-friendly fitness site that specializes in workouts for a little-known issue called diastasis recti that can make the two sides of your abs feel as if they’re in separate zip codes. Diastasis rectus abdominis is actually a major symptom that often shows up as part of a vicious cycle of core weakness and dysfunction, including other “hush-hush” issues that are often considered immodest to even mention … especially as they relate to sexual intimacy.
But I get questions about this in our private Fit2B member forum. Women want to know how to handle sex when dealing with diastasis recti. They want to know what positions they should be mindful of so they don’t make it worse while they’re in the initial phase of healing. They want to know if physical therapy can help them “in there” and “down there.” So don’t you think it’s time to discuss this?
How about a little straight talk? No pictures, no explicit language, just straightforward information from a few expert professionals who eat, sleep, and breathe in the trenches of torn-apart tummies, people who have helped me along my journey with diastasis recti which has been fully healed now for years.
In this blog, you’re going to find a lot of links to a lot of resources on this topic. Some are right here on Fit2B so I want to be sure you can find them. Others are from those quoted below. We have articles, podcasts, an ecourse, and specialized workouts to help you get this all sorted out once and for all!
First, let’s hear some sexual considerations for diastasis recti from Lara Catone, a somatic sexologist and doula who helps women process their births and the subsequent changes in their bodies and relationships. Her area of specialty and great passion is the core, which includes the muscles of the abdominals, low back, pelvic floor, and diaphragm.
“Most women come to see me initially for weakness and the change of appearance in their abdominals due to diastasis recti. They want to lose their mummy tummy! In our first meeting it quickly unfolds that diastasis is affecting numerous areas of their lives including, and often especially, intimacy.
“Women who have diastasis recti describe an overall feeling of disconnection from their center.”
Our core is our very center–as the name implies–and when the core is out of alignment or weak, it can throw us off in a multitude of ways. New parenthood in and of itself is an adjustment for couples. The lack of sleep, the newness of the bond they find with their baby, the demands of taking care of that baby, financial stress, and hormonal changes are all well-known ingredients in extinguishing the romantic fire for both men and women.
Women who have diastasis are often in pain or discomfort. Their backs and shoulders ache, they may have pelvic pain. There can be a feeling of discomfort in the abdomen itself. It doesn’t matter how you slice it, pain is not sexy.”
Diastasis affects the pelvis
“A common phrase I hear is, ‘This doesn’t feel like my body,’” said Lara. “This is because women with diastasis also have a feeling that their bodies don’t work the same way and that they don’t have the same amount of strength and feeling of togetherness, or full body integrity that they were previously used to. Lastly in the physical realm, diastasis can contribute to pelvic floor weakness which can lead to incontinence and organ prolapse” (when organs like the bladder or uterus fall out of place and start to hang into the vagina).
“Women feel so much pressure to obtain a certain unobtainable body image that pervades all areas of our culture where real pregnant and postpartum bodies are not recognized. The postpartum period is certainly no different and can be a real challenge for women’s self esteem. When women are feeling ashamed of their bodies because of how they look or feel, they don’t want them to be seen and they often don’t feel like they deserve to be loved, honored and cherished with their imperfections.”
But when you are finally in the mood …
What are the best positions for sex with diastasis?
For this, I asked Julie Tupler, the original pioneer of diastasis rehab to offer her insight. Tupler has stood in the gap for women dealing with abdominal separation for almost 30 years. She original took notice of it while working as a nurse caring for hernia surgery patients. She contributed a lesson to our Experts In Diastasis ecourse about the ramifications of DR on herniations.
“Closing a diastasis is all about healing connective tissue. The goal of healing connective tissue is to take the stretch ‘off’ the stretched out connective tissue. So developing an awareness of how the transverse abdominus muscle moves with activities of daily living is very important to protect the connective tissue from getting stretched. You use your transverse muscle with every move you make. So if before you stand, sit, get out of bed, go to the bathroom, sneeze, cough you engage your transverse muscle, you will be protecting your connective tissue.”
Seated & Side Lying Is Best
“Having sex is also an activity of ‘daily and evening’ living and an activity that needs ‘diastasis awareness.’ It is very easy to be distracted while having sex and forget about your transverse muscle! In a back lying position with the legs in the air it is extremely difficult to engage your transverse muscle. Also, in a hands and knees position, all the weight of your organs will be stretching your connective tissue. It is also extremely difficult to engage your transverse in this position. So the BEST positions to use for this fun activity is in a seated position or a side-lying position where it’s much easier to engage your transverse muscle in these positions.”
Leave a comment: How has diastasis recti impacted your sex life? Do you have any other questions we can address?