Society tends to view pregnant women as non-sexual. After all, how could you get in the mood when you’re distracted by all the uncomfortable aspects of pregnancy? However, it is a complete myth that pregnant women are not interested in sex. In fact, research shows that only one in 10 pregnant women abstains from sex throughout the duration of their pregnancy.
The reality is that the experience of sexuality during pregnancy is very individual, varying widely from woman to woman. It is normal to experience many different types of changes in your sex drive while you are with child.
What Happens to Your Sex Drive During Pregnancy?
One reason why your sex drive during pregnancy may increase, decrease or go through some other change is that your hormones are acting much differently than they used to before you became pregnant. Hormonal changes might make you more or less sexual, or your sex drive may stay the same. Some women find that they have the best sex of their life during their pregnancy; in fact, some women may experience their first orgasm or first multiple orgasms during this time.
Pregnant women can stay just as interested in sex or become even more interested than they were before the pregnancy. However, it’s also just as normal to experience a decline in sex drive as the pregnancy progresses. This is actually pretty common; one study of 150 women published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy found that it is more common for sexual satisfaction to decline as the pregnancy progresses.
This phenomenon of women’s sex lives declining with a progressing pregnancy is due not only to their changing hormones. Physical symptoms like painful intercourse, weight gain, nausea, discomfort, urine leakage, vaginal dryness and fatigue can also impede sexual pleasure. Some women are also afraid that having sex could harm their pregnancy or their baby in some way.
Sex During Each Trimester
Sexuality during pregnancy is highly individual. However, there is still a general pattern that the majority of women experience.
The first trimester, or the first three months, of your pregnancy is a time when you are very likely to lose interest in sex. This is because the first trimester is a time of bloating and morning sickness that distracts you from sexual desire; the unique hormonal signature of the first trimester also plays a role.
The second trimester is the trimester when you are most likely to have a high sex drive. This is because nausea and vomiting of the first trimester have dissipated. Plus, the second trimester is a time of increased blood flow to the vulva and breasts, improving sensation and arousal.
Most often, once the third trimester comes around the expecting mother has gone back to losing interest in sex. The last three months of pregnancy are rife with back pain, physical discomfort, weight gain and fatigue. This is also the phase of pregnancy when the mother may be most paranoid that having sex could cause harm to the baby.
Of course, this is just the most common pattern. Don’t be surprised if your sex drive changes in a way that doesn’t follow this pattern. Perhaps you’ll still be in the mood frequently up until the day you give birth; in fact, one study of 188 mothers found that a whole 39 percent of them were still having sex up until their birth week! Or, perhaps you may be completely turned off throughout the whole nine months. Every variation is normal; the key thing to remember is that sexuality during pregnancy is very personal and individual.
Making the Most of Your Sex Life During Pregnancy
Sex during pregnancy can be a wonderful experience if you let it. You’ll need to overcome any psychological obstacles, if necessary, as well as take care of yourself extra well in order to enjoy sex during this time of your life.
As alluded to previously, some women may abstain from sex during pregnancy because she is afraid that it could be harmful. You or your partner may have fears that sex could cause miscarriage, injury to the baby, preterm labor or even infection. However, these fears are nearly always unfounded. It is safe to have sex during most pregnancies. You only need to abstain from your sex if your doctor instructs you to, as may be the case in certain high-risk pregnancies or if you have certain medical problems. Simply let your doctor guide you. If you can let go of these fears, you may be able to enjoy sex more during your pregnancy.
It’s important to make the most of your sex life during pregnancy. If you can maintain a strong romantic bond with your partner during this time, it will increase your chances of maintaining a strong relationship after the child is born. Having a newborn is stressful, but a strong relationship can make it less so; a healthy and loving relationship will also help you be a better parent.
Take care of yourself while you are pregnant—many women find themselves too tired for sex, but being pregnant is the best excuse out there to take a nap! You may also need to modify your usual sex positions to be comfortable with your baby bump. Lastly, if you really don’t feel like having sex, don’t underestimate the power of nonsexual physical affection like cuddling, kissing and giving massages. Any type of physical contact can help you maintain a strong relationship throughout your pregnancy, boosting the well-being of both yourself and your child.