Even though pregnancy causes many physical changes, it doesn’t have to change your sexual desires. For many women, sex can be more pleasurable during the second trimester, when morning sickness has faded and most discomforts have subsided.
It’s also important to know that sex in pregnancy won’t harm your baby, who is well protected in the amniotic sac. Here are a few ways that sex may feel different during pregnancy:
1. Your libido is up
Pregnancy can have both ups and downs for a woman’s appetite for sex, and it’s not unusual for a man to feel differently during pregnancy too. For some couples, sex feels sexier during pregnancy, with men finding their partners more attractive than ever before and women becoming more easily aroused and climaxing quicker and more pleasurably than before. For other couples, the erogenous zone may become more restrictive, and some find that positions that involve inserting a penis or toy close to the cervix can become uncomfortable or painful as the cervix expands and shifts position.
In the first trimester, a woman’s hormone levels are higher, which can sometimes make her more aroused than usual. But it’s also common for desire to wane during the early months of pregnancy, especially as nausea and fatigue set in and her body starts to change shape.
And by the third trimester, a woman’s body can be too big and uncomfortable for her to be interested in sex, even when she’s aroused. She may feel too tired or achy to want to have sex, or she might worry about her baby’s safety, which can make her feel unattractive too. It’s important for a partner to understand these changes and not take them personally, or they could find themselves in an uncomfortable situation down the road.
2. Your breasts are bigger
For many women and partners, pregnancy is a peak erotic time. The hormones triggered by the expanding womb can make you more aroused and help you reach climax faster than ever before, and your breasts will become fuller, rounder and more sensitive, making them both more luscious and pleasurable to touch and caress.
However, some physical symptoms can affect your desire for sex, such as nausea, fatigue and sore breasts. This can be frustrating, but it’s important to listen to your body and to try different positions for sexual comfort.
Your belly will also change the way you hold yourself, making it harder to lie on your back for long periods (good-bye missionary position!). Instead, you can try lying on your side or getting on your hands and knees. Sex with your partner on top can become uncomfortable quite early on, not just because of the bump but because your breasts will be tender. It may be better to try the spoon position, where you are both lying on your sides and he enters you from behind, or a similar variation.
It’s safe for your partner to play with and caress your enlarged breasts, but it’s important not to push too hard. This can cause discomfort and lead to contractions that could be dangerous for you and your baby.
3. You’re more sensitive
A pregnant woman’s nipples and breasts are more sensitive during lovemaking, and some women experience this as a pleasure or pain. Similarly, the vulva may be tighter or even change colors, and penetrative sex can hurt if it’s too deep. It’s helpful for a couple to communicate about what feels good and what doesn’t, and try different positions during lovemaking. For example, avoid lying flat on your back in the “missionary” position during your second and third trimester (this restricts major blood flow) and instead, lie on your side or get on your hands and knees with your partner behind you in a spooning position.
The heightened sensitivity in your erogenous zones can be an amazing experience, and many pregnant women say they have more intense orgasms during sex while they’re pregnant than at any other time in their lives. Orgasms can also help tone the pelvic muscles, which will be useful for both childbirth and postpartum recovery.
If you’re healthy and at a low risk of preterm labor, your practitioner will likely recommend that you continue to have sex. But if you have a history of miscarriage or a long cervix, your practitioner might ask you to stop or take it more slowly. And of course, don’t have sex if you have a sexually transmitted disease or infection.
4. You’re more relaxed
Trying to conceive can feel like a massive (albeit fun) school test and once you’re pregnant, your sex life may start to feel a little more like a big-old-sexy-test. But you can relax, sex is still safe for both you and your baby. And as your pregnancy progresses, it’s a great way to bond with your partner, too.
In fact, the intimacy of sex is great for both your physical and emotional health. Studies show that couples who regularly have sex can reduce stress levels, which can help your immune system and improve your sleep. Plus, orgasms are a great mood-booster and the release of the love hormone oxytocin can actually increase pain tolerance.
The increased lubrication in your vagina due to the extra fluid can also accentuate pleasure for some women and their partners. But be aware that the sex position you normally use may not always be comfortable in late pregnancy – as your belly gets bigger, positions such as the missionary or laying on your back can cause pressure on the vena cava and restrict blood flow. Try to stay on your side or try the spooning position instead.
Of course, not all women want to have sex when they’re pregnant and that’s totally fine. As long as you and your partner are open about it, then that’s a decision that’s completely up to you both.