Your body goes through a whole host of changes when you’re pregnant, and your sex drive — and sex life — aren’t immune. And the differences aren’t universal: While some notice increased libido, others may feel their desire drop. Whitney Port, for example, recently appeared on the podcast LadyGang to share that she just can’t get into sex during pregnancy. “It is so not for me! It’s not. I feel so uncomfortable with my body that I can’t get into the mood,” she said.
Maybe you’re nodding in agreement with Port, maybe you adore pregnancy sex, and maybe you’re just curious about what to expect of sex when you’re expecting. We consulted sex therapists Ursula Ofman, PsyD, Vanessa Marin, and Kat Van Kirk, PhD about what to know about pregnancy sex no matter which camp you fall in.
1. Body insecurity and symptoms such as fatigue and morning sickness can contribute to aversion to sex, which is not an uncommon feeling.
Dr. Ofman tells us she’s heartened to see a public figure like Port open up about pregnancy body insecurities: “I think that has the potential to take some pressure off for some women who feel uneasy with their reduced interest in pregnancy, since common wisdom says that often women get more interested when they are pregnant,” she says. The truth is that different trimesters are different for everyone. Dr. Van Kirk says that for some, the first trimester is the biggest mood-killer, as that’s when morning sickness usually occurs. Fatigue during the first trimester is also common. “Later in the pregnancy, [a growing body] may also create a since of insecurity within the woman,” she says, making it difficult to feel sexy. If you find this to be the case for you, know that you’re not alone — and that it could help to voice your feelings to your partner. And on that note…
2. You may not be the only one feeling unsure about sex during your pregnancy: Your partner may be feeling it, too.
Dr. Van Kirk points out that the partner of a pregnant person “may be unsure how to initiate sex, how to find ways to position themselves, or may be afraid of hurting his pregnant partner or the gestating baby.” If you feel your partner has lost interest in sex during your pregnancy, one of these concerns could be at the root of it.
3. Increased blood flow can mean higher sex drives for some pregnant people.
“Interest in sex during pregnancy waxes and wanes according to hormones, body image, and stressors,” Dr. Van Kirk says. “Some women actually notice a rise in their libido and because of increased genital blood flow and lubrication, many find they are more orgasmic.” Marin agrees that sex during pregnancy can feel even better than usual — and that having sex brings benefits either way. “Your hormone levels and blood flow can increase your vaginal lubrication and your overall sensitivity,” she says. “Plus, having sex releases oxytocin, a hormone known to promote relaxation, trust, and comfort.” (She points out that it’s also possible pregnancy may not affect your libido at all.)
4. Remember to think beyond vaginal sex.
If penetrative sex isn’t appealing, Dr. Ofman says activities such as “caressing, holding, kissing, manual stimulation, oral stimulation, using a vibrator, [and] massage” are wonderful ways to connect. “Both men and women can feel awkward having vaginal intercourse during the later part of a pregnancy, and while they may feel sexually interested, they may fulfill that interest in other, non-penetrative ways,” she explains. With so many different forms of intimacy on the menu, penetrative sex shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all in your sex life even when you’re not pregnant. And, as always, foreplay is important to get you in the mood. Dr. Van Kirk cites foot rubs and back massages as warm-ups that may be especially welcome during pregnancy.
5. Avoid sex on your back, particularly late in pregnancy.
Positions in which the pregnant person is on their back may not be very comfortable, especially during the third trimester. By that point, lying on your back can strain your hips (and also decrease the amount of blood flowing to the baby).
6. Receiver-on-top, spooning, and doggy style positions may offer the most comfort.
Dr. Ofman recommends side-by-side penetration from behind in a spooning position, as it relieves belly pressure and allows for clitoral stimulation. Marin, meanwhile, vouches for receiver-on-top (also known as cowgirl) and reverse receiver-on-top, since you “can control the depth, angle, and pace, so you can make sure you’re comfortable.” She also suggests a modified doggy style in which you support yourself on your elbows: “Going down on your elbows can make the penetration of normal doggy style less intense, while still letting you have some of the fun you had in your pre-pregnancy days.”
7. Don’t shy away from sex toys.
As at any other time, “Using sex toys [during pregnancy] can improve orgasmic response,” Dr. Van Kirk says. What’s more, orgasms can help you feel a sense of control over your body as you prepare to give birth. Make sure to use toys with body-safe materials such as silicone, stainless steel, or tempered glass, and completely clean them before and after use. (These materials can be washed with soap and water or even boiled as long as the toy in question doesn’t contain a motor.)
8. Get wet — all over.
Dr. Van Kirk says that having sex in water can create a sensation of weightlessness that feels especially sexy and playful during pregnancy. It’s also often much easier for pregnant people to get into a variety of different positions when underwater, which can be a huge turn-on.
The bottom line? Everyone experiences pregnancy differently, and there’s nothing abnormal about experiencing either higher or lower libido during it. Check in often with yourself and your partner about how you’re feeling so that sex can play exactly the role you want it to.
More on pregnancy:
- All Your Questions About At-Home Pregnancy Tests, Answered
- Gal Gadot Hid Her Pregnancy While Filming Wonder Woman to Avoid Special Treatment
- Musician Alexa Wilding Refused to Be Peer Pressured Into Post-Pregnancy Plastic Surgery
Everything You Need to Know About Skincare When You’re Pregnant:
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