Does pregnancy cause low libido and will my sex life ever be the same again are just some of the questions you might ask yourself before having a baby. Everybody’s experience is different but we ask the questions you want to know on how sex changes during pregnancy and call on the experts at Smile Makers to give us their tips for how to increase sex drive during pregnancy and beyond…
Does pregnancy increase your sex drive?
The hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy can cause changes in sex drive, driving it lower or higher. More than a third of women declare an increased sex drive in pregnancy.
Progesterone’s role during the first trimester can increase the sensitivity of some areas like the breasts and changes of vascularisation of the genitals can make stimulation feel heightened. This can lead to more pleasure and a stronger sex drive, but research also suggests that hormonal changes can cause the opposite to happen. For example, elevated levels of oestrogen and reduced immunity can lead to yeast infections that make sex painful and can negatively impact a woman’s libido.
Non-physical factors also play a role in changes in sex drive during pregnancy: as their bodies change, some women will feel less attractive and less desirable. There might also be a fear to hurt the baby through penetrative sex or orgasm. 44% of women are concerned sex would harm the baby’s wellbeing.
It’s no wonder pregnancy affects your sex life – there’s a lot going on after all.
On the other hand, some women find they have a higher sex drive than before they were pregnant. So there’s really no knowing what you’ll experience.
Is it safe to have sex in early pregnancy?
NHS guidance is that it’s perfectly safe to have sex during pregnancy unless your doctor or midwife has told you not to. Having sex will not hurt your baby. Your partner’s penis can’t penetrate beyond your vagina (no matter how well endowed he thinks he is) and the baby cannot tell what’s going on. However, it’s normal for your sex drive to change during pregnancy. This isn’t something to worry about, but it’s helpful to talk about it with your partner.
Can I use sex toys when pregnant?
As long as you are enjoying a low-risk, healthy pregnancy experts say that it’s perfectly safe to masturbate or use sex toys if you follow a few basic precautions. According to NCT, vibrators and sex toys are fine if your pregnancy is normal and you and your partner feel comfortable with them. Just make sure they are clean to get rid of any risk of infection.
Sex in trimester one, two and three of pregnancy
Sex in the first trimester of pregnancy
NCT quotes studies on their website that have shown a 20% decrease in pregnant women having sex because of their sex drive decreasing. Several things might cause this drop in your sex life, including; nausea, tiredness and a fear of miscarriage or of harming the unborn baby.
Sex in the second trimester
One study suggested that couples felt more secure and intimate in their love during pregnancy. They might isolate themselves to concentrate on their relationship. The same study said one fifth of women discovered orgasm for the first time during their pregnancies. Many couples use women’s increased sex drive to experiment sexually, for example with sexual positions, games, fantasies and other mutual pleasures.
Sex in the third trimester
In the third trimester, a lot of women are worried about orgasms making their uteruses contract. Nipple stimulation and orgasm release the hormone oxytocin, which is the natural form of pitocin (a drug used to augment labour). They can also worry about positional difficulties, feeling unattractive or the sexual satisfaction of their partner. Many women find sex more difficult during this time due to the discomfort of various sexual positions, pelvic congestion and their baby’s engagement in the pelvis.
How does sex feel after birth?
With post-partum and during breastfeeding, the low level of oestrogen as a result of increased prolactin can reduce sex drive resulting in less intense orgasms. The majority of couples admit that resuming sexual activity after childbirth feels troublesome, with more than 40% of them indicating having felt pain up to three months after delivery. The stress it implies surrounding sex makes it all the more challenging to resume one’s sex life, and that’s perfectly normal.
How do I get my sex drive back after baby?
Your life, not to mention your body, has changed dramatically as you welcome a new being in this world. It’s not so much about “going back” to your sex life, rather to explore and build a new sex life with your partner.
Start by reconnecting physically with each other without the pressure of having sex – think hugs or massages. If you are having penetrative sex, it can feel quite daunting. Don’t rush into it, you can enjoy outercourse with your partner to give each other pleasure and rekindle your sex life in a positive way, which will create pleasure memories.
If you want to try penetration, you can take small steps, using fingers or a small vibrators to just circle around the vagina’s entrance and wander in just a few centimetres to take in the sensations. Follow your rhythm and if you can (we know time is scarce in this situation), explore yourself on your own. Your body has changed, it will experience pleasure differently and it can be very exciting to discover how.
5 Tips to increase sex drive in pregnancy and beyond
1. Take care of your mental health to increase sex drive
Stress is the number one enemy of your libido. Don’t add pressure by making sex another goal to reach.
2. Connect with your body to increase sex drive
Your vulva and vagina are going to change throughout pregnancy and childbirth. You can take time (in the shower, before getting dressed…) to look at them and feel them.
3. Stay curious about your pleasure
Touch might feel different, some areas might be more sensitive, others less. If what you used to like doesn’t work for you anymore, don’t despair. Turn it into a game by yourself or with your partner to explore new pleasures.
4. Talk about it
It can sound very cliché put like this, but the lack of information on the topic is impacting negatively how women experience their pregnancy with regards to sex. Finding support with your partner and sharing that experience with them to rediscover your sex life together can be a very powerful way to renew intimacy. Try talking about it with friends, with your doctor or with communities of women who are living through that as well.
5. If you can, try physiotherapy
Pregnancy and childbirth have impacted your pelvis that plays an important role in your sexual pleasure, as well as other bodily functions. A physiotherapist can recommend exercises to do to rebuild tonicity of the perineum, the area of the pelvis that helps support the urogenital system.
Liked this article on “5 Tips To Increase Sex Drive During Pregnancy And Beyond”? Read “5 ways to increase your sex drive naturally“.
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