Pregnancy can change your appetite for many of life’s simple pleasures, from making dinner to making love. How you will feel about sex while pregnant depends on your individual feelings about sex, your partner’s feelings, and the physical and emotional changes of this particular pregnancy. We can give you one guarantee – while pregnant you will feel different about sex. For many women, and their partners, this difference is exciting. Some women become aroused more easily, and climax more quickly, pleasurably, and frequently, and many men find their pregnant wives sexier than ever. Yet while some couples experience pregnancy as a peak erotic time in their married life, others experience a downturn in desire or satisfaction. Most couples report both ups and downs. Fortunately, all of these feelings are normal. And the good news is a little knowledge helps most couples increase their sexual pleasure during these pregnancy months. Once you and your mate realize why sex is different during the nine months of pregnancy (and for that matter, the months after birth) you’ll find it easier to adjust to this biological fact of life. It is just one more season of your marriage, one that needs sensitive understanding.
- First trimester. In the early months fatigue, along with nausea and fear of miscarriage, turns sex into an uncomfortable obligation for many women.
- Second trimester. (called “pregnancy’s honeymoon”). Hormonal surges level off. Fatigue and morning sickness usually lessen, the fear of miscarriage subsides as the statistical risk decreases, and many women show a surge in sexual desire. It is not uncommon for men, enjoying the new erotic feelings of their mates; to feel that the sex they didn’t get earlier was worth waiting for. The heightened sensitivity of the erogenous zones is so thrilling to many women that they experience more enthusiasm for sex during the middle months of pregnancy than at any time in their lives.
- Final months. Do not be surprised if in the final months you are too large, too awkward, or too preoccupied with the coming birth to enjoy sex. In the third trimester, as a ballooning abdomen literally comes between a woman and her partner, most women report that they focus more on becoming maternal rather than being sexual. Even if the body is willing, it is clumsy.
The changes in the sexual organs that accompany pregnancy can lead to one woman’s pleasure and another woman’s pain. The same hormones that prepare your body to birth and nourish your baby also change the way your body experiences sex. During pregnancy, your breasts become increasingly full and your nipples become larger and more sensitive; during lovemaking blood flow to your breasts increases even more. While your more voluptuous look may be a turn-on for your mate, heightened breast sensitivity can be either irritating or stimulating for you, depending on where you are in your pregnancy.
The changes in your vaginal canal that get it ready for baby’s passage also make it feel different during lovemaking. The increased blood flow to the muscles and lining of your vagina cause a feeling of fullness. For some women – and their partners – this change can accent sexual joy; for other women, it’s uncomfortable. Vaginal secretions increase and the odor changes. The naturally increased lubrication of the pregnant vagina may seem a perk to women who previously experienced dryness during intercourse. For other women, this is just another of nature’s nuisances that will soon pass. The increased snugness and lubrication of the pregnant vagina may accentuate sexual enjoyment for some couples. Other couples may feel the venous congestion makes the vagina feel too snug, leaving less room for the penis. Changes in sexual organs during pregnancy tend to be more pronounced in subsequent pregnancies than for first timers.
Due to the increased blood supply to the cervix you may experience occasional bleeding or spotting after intercourse, caused by breaking of tiny blood vessels at the tip of the cervix. Avoiding deep penetration during intercourse can lessen this harmless but scary sight. If bleeding occurs during intercourse and worries you, your practitioner can examine you to determine whether the bleeding is coming from your uterus (which is of concern) or is harmless bleeding from the congested vessels lining your vagina or cervix.
Communication changes, too. You will find that the language of lovemaking changes during pregnancy. You will need to show and tell your mate what produces pleasure and what produces pain or irritation. There may be days or nights when the rising sensitivity of your breasts and vagina give you immense pleasure during foreplay; at other times, the ultra-sensitivity in the sexual organs make breast and clitoral fondling off limits. To increase your pleasure and help you avoid discomfort, tell your partner what feels good and what doesn’t. When your breasts or pelvic organs enjoy touch, welcome it; if not, nudge those massaging hands toward less sensitive areas.
1. Think round, think big. Consider what you’re getting and not what you’re losing. Your new roundness provides more surface area for your lover to see and touch. Any time you feel yourself falling back into your old mindset, call a friend who’s been there and ask her to talk you out of it. Stand in front of a mirror and embrace the new version of yourself. Take pride in your “new” body – give it the respect it deserves.
2. Give yourself a sexy look. Just because your body is getting bigger doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look your best. Treat yourself to a new hairstyle, change your make-up, and buy a new nightgown revealing what’s appealing. This is likely to spark your mate and push your sexual image up a notch.
3. Act sexier than you feel. Social scientists have shown that acting can affect feeling. Smiling, for example, causes your brain to release the same chemicals it would if you were actually happy – thereby making you happier. If you act unsexy, you may cause your partner to feel unsexy, making him retreat. If you act sexy, you may soon surprise yourself with feeling sexy!
4. You are attractive to your mate. If you convince yourself that your blossoming belly is no longer attractive to your husband, you are setting yourself up for a sexual slow down. Besides, this probably isn’t true. It’s the different shape that attracts males. And certainly during pregnancy you will look and act differently than at any other time in your relationship. Research doesn’t support your assumption that you are not attractive to your mate; most men find their wives’ newly rounded bodies appealing. Your mate is likely to love the fleshy feel and curvy look of your pregnant body. Add to these features the possibility that once you are past the yucky early months of pregnancy you are initiating lovemaking and your mate is likely to feel excited about your sexuality while pregnant.
5. Have a sex talk. Tell your mate about the way pregnancy is affecting your sexuality; and ask your mate to tell you how he feels about your new look. Each partner should explain his or her feelings. Be sure that he does not interpret your disinterest in sex as disinterest in him, for example, or you don’t assume his confusion over how to touch you now means he’s not interested. By the same token, avoid projecting your sexual uneasiness onto your mate. He will probably find you more attractive than ever.
6. Share your body. Be sure to include your husband in the pregnancy by being proud of – rather than hiding – your body’s milestones: your darkened nipples, the first tummy bulge. Focus on what is new and exciting that you will both enjoy only during pregnancy. For example, your new breasts will be “all his” for the rest of the pregnancy – what a turn on, without resorting to silicone! Lie nude together watching and feeling the baby move. Your mate will enjoy side views that he has never before seen. One fun project can be taking “as you grow” photos, month-by-month photos showing, from all angles, your changing pregnant image. Your mate will enjoy his “pin-up wall.”
7. Have a fling. Have periodic weekend “dates” before baby arrives; after he or she comes you will have less energy for each other. The best time for ambitious sexual retreats is during the middle months of pregnancy, but make an effort to spend romantic time enjoying each other throughout the pregnancy.
8. Avoid the “sex as a service” feeling. While for most couples a certain amount of “obligatory” sex is usual during pregnancy, don’t let your mate feel you are always “servicing” him (or her!), even though sometimes you are.