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Sex during pregnancy

During your pregnancy, sex can become a complicated issue. Your desire can decrease, your discomfort can increase, and you might just lose interest altogether. Or, you might still be in the mood but find that your partner is backing off!

All of this is perfectly normal and very common. Sexual enjoyment tends to decline as pregnancy goes on. Around 22-50% of pregnant women find intercourse painful and many women find it difficult to orgasm. It’s normal for your libido to decline too, largely to the change in hormones, and feeling sick, tired and physically uncomfortable [1].

And, as your body changes, you might just feel less sexy. This is particularly likely during the later stages of pregnancy, when you’re all achy and bloated. About a quarter to a half of pregnant women feel less attractive than before, and only 12% feel more attractive [1].

Giving it a go

If you do feel up to having sex, there’s no reason you shouldn’t give it a go. For the majority of healthy pregnant women and their partners, sex is perfectly safe, even in the last few weeks before you give birth [1]. If you’re not sure whether it’s OK, seek advice from your doctor or midwife but, if you do want to have a go, give yourself time to be in the mood, and accept that it might take longer than usual.

It’s possible that your partner will be reluctant, which can be frustrating. However, don’t assume that it’s from a lack of desire, or a loss of sexual attraction. One possible reason for hesitancy is a fear of harming the baby, which inhibits at least a quarter of male partners, and a quarter to half of expectant mothers [1].

Talk to your partner. Have an open and honest conversation about how you both feel right now. If your partner admits that they’re feeling funny about sex, try not to get annoyed or take it personally – you won’t be pregnant forever! If you’re feeling a bit insecure, make it clear that you are learning to adjust to your changing body and that, even if sex is off the table, a little TLC would be appreciated.

Finding other ways to feel close

If you really don’t want to have sex, don’t force yourself. Be honest with your partner, offer reassurance that it’s not a personal rejection, and ask for the support you need. It might be helpful to discuss this article, and reassure yourselves that these are common adjustments that couples face during pregnancy.

If you’re feeling icky and your partner tries to reassure you that you look beautiful, accept the compliment and choose to believe them. Lots of people find their partners especially attractive when they’re carrying their child.

Finding other ways of being intimate that aren’t sexual – like hugging, kissing, and massage – can help you bond when sex isn’t available. Just spending quality time together can help you maintain a sense of closeness.

And remember that you won’t feel like this forever. Though there will be new challenges for your sex life when your baby comes along, the physical changes you’re experiencing during pregnancy should return to normal about three months after the birth. Some women even experience more intense orgasms than they did before [1].

 

References

[1] Von Sydow, K. (2000). Sexuality during pregnancy and after childbirth: A meta-analysis of 59 studies. Reproductive Health Matters, (15), 183. doi:10.1016/s0968-8080(00)90068-5

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