Sex Drive During Pregnancy
When a person is pregnant, it’s common for sex drive to be all over the place. It can be higher or even lower than before because of the surge of hormones which affect mood and energy levels alongside the physical changes in the body.
Pregnancy sex can be a safe and pleasurable way of de-stressing and bonding with your partner. While some people may feel like they have an increased sex drive at this time, others may notice themselves avoiding it completely.
In this blog, we will try our best to guide you through sex drive during pregnancy throughout the trimesters and educate you on how to adapt to help ensure the safety, comfort and reduce fears and concerns of the pregnant individual.
Why does Sex Drive change during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, a surge of hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (hCG), human placental lactogen (hPL), etc increases blood flow to the pelvis and the breasts, making them more sensitive and engorged. The combination of these factors increases the sex drive which also causes “sex dreams”.
Pregnancy also increases dreaming, making them more vivid and easier to remember. Sex drive increased by blood flow to the pelvis and the breasts primarily enhances vaginal lubrication and raises sensitivity which leads to quicker sexual arousal and spontaneous orgasms. Though, it could also go towards the opposite direction and make it harder as morning sickness, fatigue, self-esteem issues and sudden weight gain may have a negative effect on sex drive.
Now we are going to talk about what might be one’s attitude towards sex throughout the trimesters and to explore and navigate your way through safe sex during pregnancy.
First Trimester (1-12 weeks)
During the first trimester, the pregnant partner may be more interested or less interested in having sexual relations, it differs for every pregnant person. As for sex, since the bump is close to non-existent at this stage, any positions which worked before pregnancy should still feel good. Almost any position works as long as both parties are comfortable during this trimester.
Second Trimester (13-27 weeks)
By the second trimester, the early pregnancy symptoms usually subside and libido also manages to return. So it’s good to engage in sexual activity with the new energy and interest in the sex life. Though the only issue might be the growing belly. As the belly grows, it can start interfering with day-to-day activities which also include sex, if you choose to have it because it’s also common for sex drive to decrease in the 2nd trimester as well. This is the time to start exploring positions that work around the belly.
It’s important to know that while you and your partner get creative and find positions that you both can enjoy and find comfortable, always listen to your body and embrace what works for you because pregnant bodies are not exactly “one size fits all”. Lying on your back might seem uncomfortable during this trimester, so experimenting with different positions that don’t require lying on the back might help.
Third Trimester (28-40 weeks)
In the final months of pregnancy, the pregnant partner usually worries that sex or having an orgasm could harm the baby. We are here to assure you that it won’t and possibly can not. Unless specified by your doctor to not have sex, you are free to do it without any worry. With the belly getting even bigger, it might be harder for both the partners to find comfortable positions. Fatigue from the weight and prominent self-esteem issues can affect the sex drive in this trimester.
During the third trimester, the baby’s constant kicking can also feel slightly uncomfortable. For that reason, it’s best to keep the pregnant partner on top usually after the 20th week onwards because the bump can be challenging to work around.
How to Handle the Sexual Pattern Changes between Partners
If you got used to having sex with your partner either in general or while trying to conceive and are now having less sex because of low sex drive and/or pregnancy, either one of you or both of you might be experiencing sexual frustration. Partners can strengthen their relationship during pregnancy by starting with focusing on their relationships foremost rather than their annoyance arising from sexual frustration. It’s important to remember that while these changes are new and frustrating, it is temporary.
Good communication and a little bit of intimacy like cuddling, kissing, hugging or massaging can do wonders for your relationship.. We have a blog on how to support your pregnant partner, as well, if you would like to give that a read!
What to Expect from Sex During Pregnancy?
Sex during pregnancy will obviously feel different from what it felt before conceiving. Hormones and extra blood flow to the genitals and breasts, can make sex more satisfying but symptoms of pregnancy such as sore breasts and nausea as well as the baby bump can do the exact opposite.
It’s completely normal to have some mild stomach cramps or contractions during sex or after having an orgasm. These cramps can happen due to the muscle in the uterus contracting during orgasms. Cramps are also induced by the hormones present in sperm. If you have these mild cramps during or after sex, you can make the discomfort go away by taking a warm shower or using a heat pack.
Breast stimulation and prostaglandin hormone along with orgasms are capable of causing uterine contractions. Many pregnant people get scared when the fetus starts kicking a lot after an orgasm because they think it might be in pain or reacting to your orgasm, but it’s a perfectly normal fetal response to uterine activity like having an orgasm. The fetus might be enjoying the motions synonymous with sex.
Is Sex During Pregnancy Safe?
If your pregnancy is going smoothly and the doctor has given you a green light regarding having sex, it’s completely safe to have sex and orgasm while you are pregnant.
Penetrative sex doesn’t poke the baby’s head for the exact reason and it also means you most certainly do not have an audience because a fetus can’t comprehend or see what’s happening!
Another concern that people have is if sex during pregnancy can cause labour or bleeding? Unless you are at high risk for premature labour or incompetent placenta or cervix, it can’t. Orgasm causes uterine contractions but it can’t trigger labour. If you are full term or past term (after 40 weeks), some doctors do encourage pregnant partners to have sex as a way to jump start labour by inducing contractions.
Pregnancy comes with a more sensitive cervix, an engorged mouth of the uterus and an overall increased blood flow to the genitals, it becomes not so unusual to experience some spotting as well after sex. If you feel like something is wrong, you should definitely contact your doctor as soon as possible.
There are some situations where sex might be unsafe during pregnancy
- an history or shown signs of a possible miscarriage or preterm labour
- A history of cervical weakness
- Experiencing severe abdomen pain or cramps
- Vaginal bleeding or the bleeding has stopped with an unclear cause
- Diagnosed with Placenta praevia
- Your water has broken
- Carrying multiple babies
- Having strong contractions in equal intervals i.e., active labor
Best Sex Positions During Pregnancy
Even though having sex while pregnant can feel like an unknown territory, it’s quite simple to find pregnancy safe sex positions that feel good for both the partners, no matter their sex or gender.
- Almost any position works as long as it’s comfortable for both the partners in the first trimester but it gets trickier and harder to manoeuvre around the baby bump with time.
- Strap-ons for penetrative sex is also safe to use as long as it’s clean and comfortable and even better, with a condom on the sex toy.
- There are pregnancy friendly sex positions such as all the side-lying positions like spooning which is all trimester-friendly as it reduces pressure on the inferior vena cava if done by lying on the left side or rear entry.
- Pregnant partner on top like cowgirl for extra stimulation and better manoeuvring during the late term, missionary but only when the baby bump is negligible as to avoid putting pressure on the fetus, oral sex and mutual masturbation if you do not feel up for penetrative sex.
- Oral sex including licking, sucking and tongue penetration, is great, but be cautious as to not blow air direct into the vagina during pregnancy since it can lead to an air embolism. Blowjobs and swallowing semen is also fine.
- Anal sex should be approached with caution as well because pregnant people can develop haemorrhoids.
There are a lot of benefits of having sex during pregnancy such as it’s a safe, partner-bonding experience, it’s great for the physical health of the pregnant partner, it can ease pain and discomfort, boost their mood and improve sleep as well. When the time comes, it can also help move labour along and ease postpartum recovery, given that you wait to have sex and do it only after the recommended time.
It is also necessary to call your doctor, midwife or the hospital immediately if you start to experience symptoms like bleeding, severe stomach cramps, fever, regular contractions, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, vaginal discharge that looks or smells different, etc., just to be sure there’s nothing wrong with the pregnant person or with the fetus and that whether sex is recommended or not. Keeping all of these in mind, you can start to feel like yourself again, at least a pregnant version of yourself, preferably without stress and knowing all the answers.
We also have an another blog on sex during pregnancy if you would like to check that out.
Cover illustration by: Greatist.com