Sexual desire in pregnancy

Jul 29, 2019 | pregnancy, pregnancy wellbeing

Sexual desire in pregnancy

Sexual desire may fluctuate through pregnancy and this may be due to the huge changes that your body experiences

In the first trimester you may experience nausea, vomiting, dizziness, tiredness and a feeling of anxiety. You may be irritable and experience mood swings.

In the second trimester you may feel more energised as these early symptoms begin to settle. You will begin to relax into your new role as mum-to-be. Increased blood flow to the genital area and breast enlargement can make you more sexually aroused. Your partner will also enjoy the warmth in your vagina from the increased blood flow.

Tender breasts

During pregnancy, your breasts may feel tender and heavy, similar to when you are about to have your period. The breasts increase in size, feeling fuller and firmer. The enlargement of the breasts can make you feel sexually aroused and enhance sex for you and your partner. Some women however feel very uncomfortable when their breasts are touched and your partner will need to be extra gentle.

Skin changes

Most women are self conscious of the changes to their skin , such as stretch marks, and these may hinder their desire for sex. You may feel unattractive and believe that your partner feels the same way about you. Not all skin changes are negative, your blood volume doubles by 28 weeks which improves your skin so you glow and look beautiful.

Varicose veins

High levels of the hormone progesterone can cause the muscles around the veins to relax causing varicose veins. Varicose veins around your vulva can occur in 20 % of pregnant women and can be very painful,  Sex will not appeal to you if you are in pain or uncomfortable.

Vulvar varicosities don’t always cause signs and symptoms. If they occur they might include a feeling of fullness or pressure in the vulvar area, swelling and discomfort. In extreme cases the the dilated vessels can bulge, they might look bluish and feel bumpy. Cold compresses help but a trip to the midwife or doctor for further individual advice is recommended.

Vaginal discharge

It is normal for you to have more than your usual vaginal discharge during pregnancy. It is a colourless and non -irritating discharge called leucorrhoea. Some couples find sex more enjoyable with the increased lubrication; others may not find it pleasurable if the excessive lubrication reduces the friction of the penis in the vagina. If the discharge becomes itchy , or is blood stained or has an offensive odour then seek medical advice as this could be caused by an infection or small cervical erosion (ulcer). Infections such as thrush are extremely common in pregnancy due to hormonal changes affecting the PH of your vagina so be careful when using heavily scented body wash or soap in this area and use products which are listed as PH neutral such as the Simple range. If your partner also has a swollen penis or an itchy rash he will also need to get treatment ( normally canestan cream ) which you can get from the GP and both use. A small vaginal pessary or one dose of oral medication normally clears thrush very easily.

Body aches and pains

As your baby grows, you may adopt a different posture to balance the weight. Your back hollows and your bump pushes forward causing backache. Try to have plenty of rest and relax. Sexual intimacy can reduce stress. Adapting your position and trying different positions to accommodate your growing bump is all part of the fun of sex in pregnancy !


Sleeplessness is very common in late pregnancy and is usually due to 

  • The discomfort of your babies movements
  • your muscles stretching
  • Passing urine frequently
  • Difficulty in finding a comfortable position

Sleeplessness and exhaustion may make you irritable and few women fancy sex when they are in this state !. You may find lovemaking a good way to release tension and help you sleep or you may go off it completely. Sharing your feelings as a couple may help.

Look at your sleep habits:

  • Use comfortable pillows
  • keep the bedroom at a comfortable temperature or get a fan
  • try a warm drink before bedtime 
  • turn off all blue light from tablets phones and TV’s at least an hour before bedtime as this stimulates the neocortex of the brain and makes you more alert 
  • Dim the lights, play relaxing music or a hypnobirth audio, massage each other and enjoy the intimacy and connection 

The growing bump/weight gain 

Your bump becomes more pronounced from 24 weeks. You may experience rib pain because the baby is pressing upwards against the ribcage 

( see our blog on pregnancy rib pain ) 


You will not be able to reach your feet easily when showering or applying body lotion. Shaving your pubic region will become more difficulties the bump grows bigger . Your partner can help you in the bath and shower, as this enhances intimacy.

Some women feel sexy and attractive about their new body. For such women, the bump reinforces or enhances their femininity; other women may feel shapeless and clumsy. Your pregnancy shape should be embraced as something to feel proud of and enjoy. You will be pleased to know that most men find the pregnant body to be extremely sensuous attractive and 

sexy .

Feel good and look sexy

It can be difficult to get dressed every day when you feel sick, clumsy and heavy. Looking good reflects how you feel inside, and it is a common belief that how you feel reflects the way you look . Getting ready for the day will help you feel rejuvenated attractive and sensual. Getting a manicure a pedicure a pregnancy massage or some time at a spa can lift your spirits and boost your self esteem. Pregnancy should not stop you from wearing pretty underwear. Experiment with colours and shapes and you will be surprised at how sexy you feel. Flat shoes are recommended once you can no longer touch your toes as wearing high heels can aggravate a back ache or cause you to become unbalanced and at risk of trips and falls.

Mood swings 

Mood changes are a reflection of the change in hormone secretions in pregnancy. You may experience extremes of emotion; you may get more easily upset and tearful about little things, and the next moment feel happy. As the due date gets closer, you will have mixed feelings. You will look forward to meeting your baby, and at the same time be anxious that all goes well with the birth. Try to avoid negative birth stories or watching dramatic birth scenarios on TV. Anxiety about birth can affect a woman libido making her lose interest in lovemaking as the day draws closer.

Get as skilled and knowledgeable about the process of birth as you can as knowledge brings calm and confidence. Get the information from a reliable and experienced source.

Body image 

Some women may find it very difficult to expose their naked pregnancy body in front of their lover. They may prefer to make love with the lights off. Reassurance from your partner can help this considerably. Feeling proud of your increasing curves and your fertility can make you more positive about your condition and encourage you to take a general interest in looking good. Feeling proud and confident in your rounded body is a reaffirmation of life

Changes that men/ your partner might experience

Even though your partner is not physically carrying the pregnancy , they are expecting the baby too !. They experience mixed emotions. They are happy about becoming a parent and at the same time feel anxious about how the whole experience is going to turn out . They may be confused or unsure of what their role is as an expectant parent. They may also feel under financial pressure to earn more money to care for you and the baby.

As you go through the physical changes your partner can only imagine how you are feeling. They may feel that you are vulnerable and their natural instincts will make them want to protect you from any possible harm. Indeed the male testosterone level reduces in late pregnancy to bring out the more gentle nurturing side of a man ! Your male partner may be over protective of you and the baby and he may be reluctant to have penetrative sex so as not to hurt you or the baby.

Many partners find it wonderful to witness their lovers changing body. Your partner may find your changing body sensual erotic and attractive. This may increase their desire to make love to you and they may feel rejected or unloved if you are never in the mood for sex. On another level they may experience guilt when they make love to you, feeling responsible for all of the changes that you have to go through . This is why it is so important to have  open and honest communication about your feelings towards sex during your pregnancy.

There are a few men who may not find their partners physical changes sexually appealing. THis may lead to increased sexual problems, such as premature ejaculation , achieving or maintaining an erection . Their libido may be low and they may desire their pregnancy lover less as a result.

They may be concerned that they are making love to an expectant mother with a baby growing inside her instead of their lover. In most cases, these changes are temporary and things return to normal in the months following the birth. If things don’t resolve seek support from a psycho-sexual counsellor.

Work as a team 

There is nothing more romantic and loving than a supportive, understanding, caring partner. You are likely to be more responsive to sex if you feel loved and supported and if you haven’t spent all day cleaning the house ! Working together will help you to cope better and help you to feel emotionally closer 

Can sex in pregnancy harm my baby?

Not at all. Having sex during pregnancy is safe, healthy and won’t hurt your baby. If you’re having sex with a man, his penis can’t penetrate beyond your vagina, so it won’t reach your baby. Your baby is protected by a fluid-filled bag (amniotic sac) and the strong muscles of your uterus and the thick mucus plug seals your cervix and helps guard against infection. All in all, your baby’s well sealed up.

The only exception is if you’ve had heavy bleeding, your waters have broken, you’ve had problems with your cervix, are expecting twins or had a previous history of preterm labour

Can orgasms cause harm to the baby?

Again, no. Late in pregnancy, having an orgasm might cause Braxton Hicks contractions. But that won’t harm you or the baby. So if it happens, don’t panic.

Post-coital bleeding ( bleeding after sex)

It’s fairly common for women to bleed during their pregnancies, after sex or anytime, and those red or brown spots are rarely a sign that something is wrong. While it can be unsettling at best to see blood after sex, it’s doesn’t mean that intercourse hurt the baby or that you have to put a halt to sexual activity. Vaginal bleeding occurs in 15 percent to 25 percent of pregnancies, usually in the first trimester, but blood flow can appear on and off throughout your term.

As scary as it looks, even copious bleeding in expectant moms can be normal. One study found that half of women with bleeding profuse enough to send them to the hospital went on to have healthy pregnancies. But because this symptom is so distressing, it’s always a good idea to check with your practitioner to find out what’s causing your post-sex blood flow, and to get the green light to continue with intercourse.

At the hospital the doctor will ask to examine you with a speculum ( like a smear test) and look at the neck of the womb to see if there is any blood visible or a small ulcer or sigs of premature labour. Sometimes an additional scan is booked. most times there is no obvious cause of the bleeding

What to Do About Bleeding After Sex

If you notice spotting or very light flow, don’t insert a tampon. Instead, wear a pad. If the bleeding is copious or doesn’t stop flowing, or is accompanied by moderate to severe cramping, fever, back and pelvic pressure, or contractions, contact your care provider right away to find out what’s causing it. Studies confirm the benefits of sex during pregnancy, so try not to let a little spotting prevent you and your partner from being intimate.

For more expert advice about the changes in your body in pregnancy check out our Pregnancy Masterclass session held monthly on a Tuesday evening ( for pregnancies up to 24 weeks)


or join our brand new BIRTH PLANNING COLLECTIVE MEMBERSHIP GROUP from 12 -42 weeks pregnancy to get EVERYTHING you need to know about pregnancy labour and birth.

Contact Linda on 07920192881 for more details  


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