Myths about sexual activity during pregnancy abound, but the idea that sex will harm the baby or the mother, or that the baby somehow “knows” mommy and daddy are having sex, are simply false. Unless there are complications such as a history of miscarriage or leaking amniotic fluid that may prompt your health care provider to advise against it, sexual activity during pregnancy is normal, natural and healthy. Whether you desire sex while you are pregnant is a different matter altogether.
Pregnancy occurs when the man’s sperm penetrates and fertilizes the woman’s egg. This occurs naturally as a part of sexual intercourse, but it may also occur outside the body through a medical procedure known as in vitro fertilization or by artificial insemination. Once the egg is fertilized it attaches itself to the lining of the uterus where the baby develops and matures until it is born, typically around 40 weeks after conception.
Pregnancy may affect the father in a number of ways, psychologically and emotionally, but it has no affect on his body. Pregnancy has a huge affect on the mother, psychologically, emotionally and physically. Hormones kick into high gear which can result in nausea and fatigue during the first trimester of the pregnancy. These same hormones typically cause the breasts to swell as they prepare for milk production. Hair may become fuller and more lush and the facial complexion may become clear and glowing. Increased blood flow to the vaginal region may stimulate sexual arousal. As the pregnancy progresses the feet and hands may swell along with the belly. These changes and more make some women feel sexy and desirable, while making other women feel fat, drab, exhausted, uncomfortable and undesirable.
Women normally experience no specific change in sexual desire during pregnancy, because each woman is different and responds differently to her pregnancy. The same woman may respond differently during subsequent pregnancies. Some women experience an increased desire for sex when they are pregnant, while others find their desire for sex diminished. It is not uncommon for desire to fluctuate during the course of the pregnancy, according to the March of Dimes.
The first trimester may be accompanied by a great deal of physical discomfort. You may have morning sickness, be tired all the time and have to constantly go to the bathroom. Your breasts may be tender or sore. None of these symptoms are conducive to sexual arousal and many women experience a loss of desire during the first three months of their pregnancy. Many of these symptoms subside during the second trimester. Although you will typically put on a few pounds and your belly may begin to swell, you’re generally not uncomfortable. Increased blood flow to the sex organs may increase arousal, and many women feel in increased desire for sex during the middle three months of their pregnancy. The third trimester involves the belly expanding significantly. Sexual desire may increase, diminish or remain the same, but sexual activity may require alternate positions to maintain comfort.
The effects of pregnancy may increase or diminish your desire for sex, but it should not interfere with intimacy between you and your partner. If sex is uncomfortable, undesirable or if it is restricted due to advice from your health care provider, you may still convey love and intimacy through other means such as cuddling, kissing, fondling, massaging and talking opening and honestly about your desires and concerns.