Yes, most people can have sex while they're pregnant (just ask your doctor). But clearly it's now more complicated — physically and emotionally. We talked to Debby Herbenick, associate professor at Indiana University and author of Sex Made Easy. Here's what you need to know.
1. She may not want to have sex at all: Pregnancy can make a woman or a couple feel especially intimate but, says Herbenick, that’s not usually the case. “The reality is that most women and their partners feel impacted by pregnancy and most have sex less often.” You're going to have to accept this.
2. You're probably going to skip the first trimester: Every pregnancy is different, but many women experience a barrage of unpleasant symptoms right away that puts sex low on their list of desires — think nausea, vomiting, extreme fatigue, gas, heartburn, and breast tenderness. Depending on the pregnancy, these symptoms may subside, intensify, or stay rather consistent throughout the pregnancy.
3. The second trimester bounce is a thing: “The intimacy and connection of feeling the baby kick during the second trimester can help a couple feel closer and want to make love,” says Herbenick. There is also increased blood flow down below, which, for some women, can result in increasingly satisfying sensations. Caveat: other women find this uncomfortable.
4. There will be hormones: During pregnancy, a woman’s hormone levels change — and typically they lower the sex drive. On top of other physical and mental stresses, mood swings, most common in weeks six through 10 of pregnancy, can also create distance in even the closest relationships. If swings seem unusually severe or last longer than a couple weeks, ask a doctor for advice and possible treatments.
5. Really, sex won't hurt the baby: Suffice it to say that sex will not poke the baby. There are certain situations where a couple might need to change it up for comfort — so ask your doctor what kinds of positions should be avoided. And some research has suggested that missionary position in the third trimester could cause preterm labor but that this isn’t the case in every situation. Beyond considerations of safety, you should also check in with your partner about which positions feel best to her.
6. Stress isn't good for your sex life, and pregnancy is stressful: There is plenty to stress about when you're pregnant and preparing for your child. Add to that the physical fatigue and sex will be off the table.
Written by Taylor Kubota for Men's Journal.