How does pregnancy affect sex drive?Is it safe to have sex during Pregnancy?

 Sexual Drive in Women during Pregnancy

Sexual Drive in Women during

Pregnancy alters the physical as well as hormones of the body. With changes in these hormones, there are also changes in a woman’s sexual desires, responses, and practices. Pregnancy does have a significant effect on a woman’s sex drive. The significant increases and decreases in libido are normal. The arousal levels in a woman can change at different stages of pregnancy. Every woman has a different level of sex drive, some women have higher levels of arousal and more intense orgasms than other women during pregnancy.  Women’s sexual desire and coital frequency usually decline in the first trimester of pregnancy, then in the second trimester, their sexual desires may vary and in the third trimester, it decreases sharply. 

Every woman’s pregnancy experience is unique and different but there are a few common things among women’s libido changes during pregnancy. A woman’s sex drive comes and goes throughout her pregnancy. Women, in general, are apprehensive about having sex during pregnancy. If women have adequate knowledge about sexual health, then they will be able to approach sex during pregnancy with less hesitation and more realistic expectations.

Let us look at how pregnancy is different and tends to affect sex drive during each trimester.

How does pregnancy affect sex drive?

Pregnancy triggers many changes including physiological changes and hormonal changes that can affect a woman’s sex drive. During pregnancy, the levels of estrogen and progesterone increase, and with also an increase in blood flow to the genitals, it can lead to a heightened sexual desire. On the other hand, women do not always have a heightened sex drive throughout pregnancy. There are many factors like nausea, fatigue, stress, and other physical changes that can result in a reduced woman’s desire to have sex.

All women do not react in the same way to hormonal changes. Some women may have more sex drive than other women. However, it is the same for every woman to have their sex drive decrease during the first trimester, peak in the second, and go down again in the third.

First trimester (weeks 0–13)

In the first trimester, some women have lower sexual desire and also less sexual satisfaction i.e., less orgasm. This may happen because of an increase in hormone levels, experiencing uncomfortable physical symptoms, and stress. These all factors contribute to a decrease in a woman’s libido.

When an embryo is implanted in the uterus then the cells in the placenta produce a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). Then HCG stimulates the production of other pregnancy hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone. Surges in estrogen and progesterone levels during the first trimester are mainly the cause of mood swings and nausea. And is a factor that affects libido in the first stage of pregnancy. This may also be the cause of other symptoms like:

  • Fatigue/tiredness
  •  Increase in stress level
  • Digestive issues
  • Having tender breasts

But for some women, the changes in levels of estrogen and progesterone can increase their libido during the first trimester.

Second trimester (weeks 14–27)

It is common for most of the women’s libidos to increase during the second trimester. The levels of HCG increase around the 6th week of pregnancy and it is at its peak. But after week 6, the levels of HCG start decreasing, which means you’ll start to have less nausea and higher levels of energy.

In addition to this, estrogen and progesterone levels continue to rise during the second trimester. This may increase the libido of a woman as estrogen increases vaginal lubrication and the blood flow to the vulva. As a result, women have a higher sex drive with heightened arousal, sensitivity, and pleasure.

Third trimester (weeks 28–40)

The third trimester is usually hard for women as they often face some of their biggest challenges during that time. Like swelling of feet and hands, an increase in weight, exhaustion or fatigue, and body aches can make women not engage in any sexual activity.

You may experience some discomfort during sexual activity and it causes some concern, but it is usually common. To experience minimum discomfort during intercourse you may want to try different positions. Women who want to have sex but find discomfort during intercourse should find other types of sexual activity. There are other forms of intimacy that you should be willing to try.

Is it safe to have sex or masturbate during pregnancy?

Intercourse is not the only form of sex you can have during pregnancy there are other forms of sexual activity pregnant women can do. Sexual activity can include anything that involves orgasm or arousal, or it could also be a vaginal penetration specifically. If you have any concerns regarding any sexual activity during pregnancy you can take the help of a healthcare professional.

Abstain from sex only if a healthcare professional recommends you to do so. Otherwise, most forms of sex like vaginal, anal, and oral sex, are perfectly safe during pregnancy. Many women will find that they can perform more sexual positions during the first two trimesters than the third trimester because the bump is quite small in the first two trimesters.

Different forms of sex:

1.    1.Vaginal sex

Women and their partners are generally worried about harming the foetus during vaginal sex. But there is no need to worry as the cervix, uterus, and amniotic fluid protects the foetus. However, it goes without saying that pregnant women and their partners should exercise some caution during sex. As the pregnancy progresses the level of discomfort increases for women and for some women deep penetration can be uncomfortable or even painful.

Sexual positions like a partner on top can be uncomfortable due to sore or tender breasts for some women. You can try positions, where both partners are lying on their sides, which are good alternatives in this situation. You can try any sex position as long as you feel comfortable.

2.    2.Anal sex

If women are comfortable then having anal sex while being pregnant is alright. As long as women do not suffer from any health conditions that affect the lower digestive system, such as haemorrhoids it is safe to have anal sex. Haemorrhoids during pregnancy are common and they can be developed by the weight of the growing foetus as it puts a significant amount of pressure on the intestines which causes the veins in or near the anus to swell.

 So, if you have haemorrhoids then having anal sex can irritate them and can result in discomfort, pain, and even bleeding. It is important to always clean the penis or sex toy before having anal sex or when you switch from anal sex to vaginal sex. By doing this you will prevent harmful bacteria from entering the vagina.

3.    Oral sex

Oral sex is a good alternative to vaginal and anal sex. In general, women find engaging in oral sex while being pregnant a safe sexual activity. In some cases, women find oral sex to be more satisfying than vaginal sex.

But there are some things you should avoid while engaging in oral sex. Like, a woman’s partner should avoid blowing into her vagina, this could create a blood bubble or an embolism. Although it is rare that an embolism can happen but it can be life-threatening, such as heart attacks or heart failure.

4.    Masturbation

If a healthcare professional recommends you to abstain from sex, then you can try engaging in masturbation during pregnancy. Masturbation helps in relieving tension and stress. Make sure if you are masturbating with a sex toy then make sure to clean them before use. Women who are pregnant should not masturbate if their doctor has advised them n advises them not to do so as it can lead to pregnancy complications or there are concerns about preterm labor.

When to avoid sex or masturbation during pregnancy?

There may be cases where a healthcare professional might advise women to abstain from sex during pregnancy if:

  • there is a certain risk of a miscarriage happening
  • there is some unexpected vaginal bleeding
  • women’s water has broken, or amniotic fluid is leaking
  • the women have placenta previa in which a placenta is unusually low and covers the cervix
  • women are showing signs of preterm labor

Knowing what you can expect in pregnancy can make you feel more comfortable with the changes in your body. It is normal and expected for a woman’s sex drive to ebb and flow throughout pregnancy. The changes in sex drive happen due to the physical and hormonal changes that occur in each trimester.

Unless an obstetrician advises you to abstain from sex, anal sex, vaginal sex, oral sex, and masturbation are safe during pregnancy. An obstetrician may advise against sex to a pregnant woman if she has a high risk of miscarriage or a history of preterm labor. It is advisable to discuss any concerns you have with your obstetrician. Pregnant women and their partners can safely participate in any form of sex as long as it is consensual, comfortable for women, and is safe for women and babies.


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