Increased Sex Drive During Pregnancy
While your first trimester of pregnancy will probably be filled with nausea, constant naps, sensitive breasts, and an expanding tummy, your second trimester may kick off in a more exciting way.
A dirty secret your prenatal classes (or all the research you’ve done) probably left out is when your eggo is preggo, your sex drive might go into overdrive.
Libido during pregnancy ebbs and flows based on your hormones and how you feel physically and mentally, but many mamas-to-be find themselves wanting to be between the sheets during their second trimester.
What do the doctors say? Go for it! Unless you’re told otherwise, sex during pregnancy is perfectly safe and encouraged!
In this article:
- What Causes An Increased Sex Drive During Pregnancy?
- When Is My Sex Drive Most Likely To Increase During Pregnancy?
- Is It Normal To Feel Hornier During Pregnancy?
- When Is My Increased Sex Drive Likely To End?
- Is Something Wrong With Me If I Have A Low Sex Drive During Pregnancy?
- When Is Sex Not Safe During Pregnancy?
- Can Sex Hurt The Baby?
- Which Sex Positions Are Best During Pregnancy?
- Can Sex Cause Labor?
- When To Call A Doctor
What Causes An Increased Sex Drive During Pregnancy?
Much like most of the symptoms you’ll experience while pregnant, hormones are to blame.
You experience elevated estrogen and progesterone throughout your pregnancy, which increases your blood flow to help support the baby. This extra blood flow also goes to your breasts, your sexual organs, and your vulva, making all of them extra sensitive. As a result, your sexual experiences can be increasingly pleasurable.
Then there are the emotional factors. Many women find their body image increases positively during pregnancy and find their new body shape as sexy. “I loved my belly and had these great boobs,” Lauren Byrne told todaysparent.com. In the same article, Jenny Ellis stated, “You’re not fat, you’re not jiggly, you’re not anything—you’re just pregnant!”
Between the fact that your breasts have grown a cup size or two, your newfound curves, and increased blood flow to some very special places, it’s no wonder you’d rather stay between the sheets.
Similarly to the health benefits of sex when not pregnant, sex during pregnancy also has it’s health benefits. When you orgasm, the love hormone Oxytocin, releases which may have positive effects on both you and your baby. The emotions you feel during that release of Oxytocin may have an indirect way of soothing your babe in utero.
Orgasming while pregnant can also help you heal quicker after delivery since orgasms help strengthen your pelvic floor and encourage quicker postpartum healing.
When Is My Sex Drive Most Likely To Increase During Pregnancy?
During the first trimester, your hormones are basically on a rollercoaster, leaving you feeling utterly exhausted, nauseous, and drained emotionally and physically.
The good news? Around 11 or 12 weeks, your hormones start to level out. Many women say the second trimester is the best, and they aren’t wrong.
Around 12 weeks pregnant, you may notice you’re starting to feel less sick, more pregnant, and have way more energy. You may also notice feeling a little friskier. This is because of the increased blood flow throughout your body and the balancing of your hormones.
Is It Normal To Feel Hornier During Pregnancy?
Experiencing a heightened sex drive during pregnancy is not uncommon, but as with many pregnancy symptoms, it can go either way.
It’s pretty common knowledge that hormones are crazy throughout your pregnancy. You go from laughing at a commercial to sobbing uncontrollably because the puppy was just so cute but how could anyone be mean to animals?! Well, these same hormones are the reason you feel an urge to stay between the sheets with your partner (or yourself).
Many women also feel empowered by their pregnant body and feel even more confident with their expanding stomach and larger breasts (not to mention many significant others are often turned on by these newfound curves and confidence). Pregnancy can also bond a couple even more, and this connection may encourage sparks to fly between you and your partner.
When Is My Increased Sex Drive Likely To End?
How long this new sex drive will last depends on the woman. Some women experience it for a few weeks, others have it until their third trimester, and others experience it up until they go into labor.
While any time span is realistic to experience heightened sex drive, many women notice a decrease for sex sometime in the third trimester. Between a watermelon-sized stomach, Braxton Hicks contractions, and the aches and pains (like lightning crotch and sciatica) that accompany the third trimester, it’s no wonder that sex might take the back burner.
Is Something Wrong With Me If I Have A Low Sex Drive During Pregnancy?
The same hormones that are responsible for a high sex drive in some women can also be responsible for a low sex drive in others.
The sensitivity you experience throughout your body during pregnancy really amps up sexuality for some women, but for others, it can make them feel like they’re jumping out of their skin.
To add to that, pregnancy isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. Stretch marks, back pain, and heartburn are just a few unpleasant symptoms of pregnancy, so when you add on weight gain and exhaustion, sex is probably the last thing on your mind.
Even if it’s a hard no to sex right now, there are a few things you can do to help you and your partner feel connected and intimate. These are:
- Book a babymoon: Getting away from your daily stressors and having a few days where it can just be you and your partner before becoming parents.
- Let your partner give you a foot massage: Not only will it feel great, but it’s a great way to create physical touch between you both.
- Make a date: Try to schedule weekly dates with each other before your baby makes its great appearance. This is a great time to talk about your emotions towards each other and the newest addition to the family.
If you’re experiencing low sex drive throughout your pregnancy, it’s totally normal. You may even notice that as you progress, your normal range of libido may return (for a little while, anyway).
Can Sex Hurt The Baby?
Like most first time moms, you may wonder is having sex during pregnancy is safe. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, sex during pregnancy is safe unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
When you’re pregnant, the fetus is in a sac filled with amniotic fluid (also known as your waters). Outside of the amniotic sac, your strong uterine muscles surround the baby, making them safe, warm, and cozy. When having sex, your cervix is high and closed, meaning there is no way for your partner to touch the baby during sex.
Some women may experience bleeding after intercourse - try not to freak out if you see a streak of pink when you wipe! Aside from the dramatic increase in blood flow to your sexual organs, your cervix is also very sensitive. If the bleeding is minimal and stops within a few hours, you shouldn’t have a need to worry.
With any bleeding during pregnancy, make sure to let your doctor know so they can rule out any potential problems.
Which Sex Positions Are Best During Pregnancy?
When you’re sporting a melon-sized bump, navigating sex can quickly become awkward and uncomfortable. Otherwise enjoyable and easy positions are now more challenging than ever. The main thing is to keep an open line of communication.
By being able to tell your partner what’s working for you and what isn’t (and vice versa), having sex while pregnant will become just as easy and enjoyable as it was before.
Here are 8 of the best sex positions when you’re rocking a bump:
- The Spoon: This is the perfect position for when your bump is bigger in the late second trimester and third trimester. By laying down and having your partner behind you, it’s an easy and comfortable position that allows for maximum pleasure.
- Side by Side: Basically spooning, but facing each other. This is an ideal position for all trimesters because lying on your side while pregnant is most comfortable. Pillows and towels can be added to increase comfort.
- You on Top: With your partner lying down and you on top, you can control the depth and pace. Plus it’s super easy to lean back and keep your belly from pulling you forward.
- Edge of the Bed: Lying on the edge of the bed allows your partner more control while also allowing you to be comfortable. Use pillows under your head and back to provide more comfort.
- From Behind: On all fours, this position keeps pressure off your stomach, making it way more comfortable for you. You can use towels or pillows to make it more comfortable, but you may find this position increasingly more difficult once you hit the last few weeks before your babe is born.
- Against the Wall: Using the wall and standing on solid ground, bend forward and have your partner enter from behind. This position may become challenging once you’ve reached the later stages of pregnancy, but for now, go for it!
- Reverse Cowgirl: With your partner lying down and you on top, but facing his toes, this position is great for the first and second trimesters. Once you get later in pregnancy, this may become a challenging position due to the size of your body and your need for balance.
- Non-Penetrative: Sometimes you don’t feel up for penetrative sex. That’s okay! Finding ways to still have that intimacy with your partner is what matters most, so do what works best and is most comfortable for you both.
So what’s off-limits?
As a rule, it’s best to avoid laying on your back after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This is because the increased heaviness and size of your uterus may put pressure on your aorta, which may restrict blood flow to the placenta.
Also, try to avoid any position that would put pressure on your stomach, like your partner lying on top or you on your belly.
Since your cervix and vagina are so sensitive during pregnancy, it is normal to experience some discomfort or pain during sex, but it’s usually due to position. Try changing up positions (and add some lube) and see if you can find a more pleasurable position. If the pain or uncomfortableness persists, talk to your doctor about it! They’re there to help.
After intercourse, you may experience an increase in fetal movements and uterine contractions. This is because orgasms are a contraction of your uterus. You may experience uterine contractions and increased fetal movements for up to 30 minutes after you orgasm, but don’t worry! It’s totally normal.
If you are in an open relationship or are a single mama with multiple partners, consider keeping condoms handy. Since condoms are the only way to protect against STDs (aside from abstinence), using condoms during any kind of intercourse will protect both you and your baby. Keep your doctor informed if you have multiple partners throughout your pregnancy.
When Is Sex Not Safe During Pregnancy?
While sex during pregnancy is generally safe, there are some circumstances where you may be told to not have sex.
You should avoid sex during pregnancy if:
- Your doctor has told you not to have sex for any reason.
- You have unexplained bleeding.
- You’re at risk or have a history of premature birth or labor.
- You have placenta previa, a condition where your placenta covers a portion or all of your cervix.
- Your waters have broken.
- You’re in the third trimester and are carrying multiples.
As always, consult the guidance of your doctor when it comes to whether having sex during pregnancy is safe for you.
Can Sex Cause Labor?
While there isn’t any hard proof that sex can cause labor, it can definitely encourage it. Doug Black, an OB/GYN in Ottawa, says “Although there’s no firm research suggesting that it will definitely help kickstart labour, it’s certainly fun to try.”
Using sex to bring on labor works by utilizing orgasms to encourage uterine contractions. When you’re at or close to full-term your cervix begins to soften and dilate, so if you have a male partner, his sperm contains prostaglandins which helps move the process along.
Sperm contains prostaglandins, which are fatty acids that act like hormones. Your uterus naturally produces prostaglandins to help dilate and thin the cervix and encourage contractions to jump-start labor.
In fact, medications that are used to induce labor in the hospital utilize a combination of synthetic forms of prostaglandins and oxytocin (a hormone that is released when you orgasm).
Research has shown that as long as you’ve had a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy and are full-term or past term, it’s likely that the way you got that baby in is an effective method to get that baby out.
However, it is important to note that your body won’t go into labor unless it’s ready. So when you hit 36, 37, or even 38 weeks it’s completely fine to continue your routine in the bedroom without worrying if you’ll go into labor afterward.
When To Call A Doctor
It can be hard to navigate what’s normal and what isn’t throughout pregnancy, especially if you’re a first-time mom. If you experience any of the following problems, it’s best to call your doctor immediately to discuss what the next steps should be:
- Bleeding: If you begin bleeding or spotting, call your midwife or OB/GYN immediately.
- Pain: If you experience sudden, sharp, intense, or one-sided pain that does not go away, you should seek immediate medical attention. Dull aches and pains can wait until your next visit or the next day.
- Contractions: Experiencing contractions (including what you may think are Braxton Hicks) less than 10 minutes apart before 37 weeks warrants an immediate call to your doctor.
- A gush of fluid: If you think your water may have broken, at any point in your pregnancy, call your doctor. Depending on if you’re full-term, you may need to go into labor and delivery immediately for monitoring.
- Change in movements: In utero, babies have awake times and sleep times. If you notice a decrease in movement, try drinking a glass of cold water and laying on your left side. If movements don’t pick up, call your doctor immediately.
- Sudden and severe headache: A sudden, severe headache could be a sign of preeclampsia or high blood pressure, both of which need to be monitored. Tell your doctor right away if you experience this.
- Swelling: Swelling can also be a sign of something being off with your body due to the pregnancy. Let your doctor know if you notice swelling. If you have sudden, extreme swelling call your doctor immediately.
As always, listen to your body. If you feel like something is off, let your doctor know. A mama’s intuition starts early, so make sure to listen to your gut.
Experiencing your sex drive go into overdrive while pregnant is totally normal, and it’s best to just go with it, doctors say.
Unless you’ve been told otherwise by your midwife or doctor, having sex during pregnancy is perfectly safe and even offers some health benefits to both you and your babe, not to mention that it helps you and partner create a stronger bond before your baby comes earthside.
As with any time you have sex, keeping an open line of communication between you and your partner is so important. Pregnancy causes a lot of sensation and changes, so by having open communication, you can tell them what feels good and what doesn’t and they can do the same for you.
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National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, Changes in the sexual function during pregnancy, 2015.
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- Emily Rader