Pregnancy and libido

Pregnancy and libido
Baby is only just starting to develop, but she’s already affecting her parent’s sex life!

Baby is only just starting to develop, but she’s already affecting her parent’s sex life!

“At the start of my pregnancy, I really lost interest in sex,” admits Gabrielle, mother to 8-month-old Lilas-Gaïa. “But it returned with a vengeance after the 3-month mark.” This often happens to expecting moms because a woman’s desire often varies according to hormonal changes and the discomforts of pregnancy.

Hormonal changes, changes in mom’s body or the fear of hurting the baby can affect the passion between expecting parents.

In the first trimester, tiredness and nausea can be an obstacle to sexual relations. But each woman experiences pregnancy differently and some feel greater arousal because of the increased hormones, says sex therapist Sylvie Lavigueur. “During my first pregnancy, my libido was in full-swing,” remembers Angelica. “But things were different when I was pregnant with my second daughter. I wasn’t so interested. I was tired because my firstborn wasn’t sleeping through the night.”

Some couples who have miscarried may also note that their desire for sex isn’t as strong during the next pregnancy. They might fear that making love will harm the baby’s development or they’re simply not into it. This is what happened to Marie-Claude and David, who went through a miscarriage after 6 weeks of pregnancy, before their daughters Ariane, 5, and Émy, 6, were born. “We were worried when I was expecting our first daughter,” says Marie-Claude. “The ultrasound reassured us. Before that, we just weren’t interested in sex.” In reality, there is generally no danger in engaging in intercourse during pregnancy. It’s true that orgasm and breast stimulation can cause uterine contractions, but if it’s not an at-risk pregnancy, there’s no danger of miscarriage or premature birth.

Surprise in the second trimester!

“Once they’ve passed the 3-month mark, some women find their bodies are more sensitive and their orgasms, more intense,” says psychologist and sex therapist Michel Campbell. “Vaginal tissue is stretched and swollen, which can increase sexual pleasure.” Viola Polomeno, University of Ottawa professor and perinatal sex specialist, notes that about 20% of women experience their first orgasm during the second trimester. But this isn’t true for everyone. Some women, on the contrary, experience less intense orgasms and a lower sex drive.

During the last 3 months, pregnancy discomfort (fatigue, frequent need to pee, pressure in the lower abdomen, painful breasts) can also lower a woman’s sex drive. The baby tummy also makes certain positions uncomfortable or painful.

When to abstain?
There are certain situations in which lovemaking is not recommended for the pregnant woman. They are:
  • Loss of blood or amniotic fluid.
  • Risk of premature delivery.
  • Placenta that is too low.
  • Multiple pregnancy.
  • A previous miscarriage due to a physical problem such as with the cervix.
If any of these situations apply to you, your physician should let you know. When in doubt, ask. The specialists who were consulted for this article, however, encourage couples to nevertheless stay in physical contact.

What about expecting fathers?

Pregnancy can impact an expecting father’s sex drive as well. Some men are less attracted to their partner because of the physical changes due to pregnancy. Others, on the contrary, find the expecting mom more attractive, as we hear from Patrick. “My sexual desire remained strong. Gabrielle never stopped being attractive to me,” he says. Some pregnant women just glow more than ever!

Some men experience erectile difficulties or premature ejaculation during pregnancy.

Some men feel uncomfortable because of the presence of the baby or are afraid of hurting the baby. “But this isn’t the case,” says Michel Campbell. “During intercourse, the penis doesn’t touch the baby. The uterus and amniotic membranes protect the baby well.”

Staying close

It’s important not to interpret the waning of passion that occurs during pregnancy as a lack of love. The key to maintaining a healthy relationship is to talk to each other. You’ll benefit from communicating your desires and discomforts. “Just feeling heard and understood will already help,” notes Viola Polomeno. If one of the partners doesn’t feel like making love, remember that there are other ways to stay in physical contact. A bath for two, a massage, long, slow kisses, caresses and hugs are great ways of showing affection for each other.

True or false?
Having sex at the end of pregnancy can start labour. True, but only under certain conditions! The baby must be placed correctly and the cervix must have started to efface. A hormone found in sperm (prostaglandin) can then contribute to provoking labour.