Some pregnant folks are extremely aroused during their pregnancies. All that blood flowing to their downtown, the increased lubrication, and the sensitive nipples can definitely make for a fun time. For some others, though, not so much. If you're in that camp, you may find yourself wondering how to increase your sex drive while pregnant — that is, if you want to.
Pregnant people are amazing. You may not feel that way, and you may hate your waddle or your tendency to sweat like a congressman at a Town Hall meeting, but pregnant folks are definitely superhuman. When you're pregnant, you're kind of like the very embodiment of fertility. If this were ancient times, statues would be carved in your honor and you'd be given the best bits of meat and food. You are creating an entirely new life with little more than vitamins and Shake Shack burgers (although maybe that’s just me). If you were fabulously rich and talented, you would have a party thrown for you with all of your famous friends in attendance, and you would get a crown and mocktails, and everyone on Instagram would "ooh" and "ahh" over the radiant beauty you've become during your pregnancy.
All pregnant people should feel as wonderful and radiant as Queen Bey, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes when you're pregnant, you just feel as though you've lost your moxie. So if you are interested in increasing your libido while pregnant, here’s what the experts have to say on the matter.
What is a "normal" sex drive during pregnancy?
Remember: You don't need to be having sex during your pregnancy unless you want to. All in all, there’s no “normal” when it comes to pregnancy sex drive, so just do what feels right to you. However, if you do want to increase your libido, that’s fair enough. You only have a limited amount of time before the 3 a.m. feedings and firehose nipples take up all of your waking moments, and perhaps you want to make the best of it (but, again, if you don’t, that’s also totally fine).
If you’re feeling frustrated by low sex drive, just know that it’s incredibly common for pregnant people. “Contrary to popular belief that a woman’s libido levels shoot up during pregnancy, there are also instances where women go through bouts of low libido levels,” Dainis Graveris, a certified sex educator and relationship expert at SexualAlpha, previously told Romper. “During pregnancy, your hormones, body, energy levels, and mood go through an array of changes. These changes will significantly impact your emotional and physical state, which, in turn, affects your sex drive.”
In terms of changes, where you are in the course of your pregnancy can have an effect. “In the first trimester, there is a significant amount of pregnancy hormone (HCG) circulating,” Dr. Peace Nwegbo-Banks, M.D., FACOG, an OB-GYN, tells Romper. “This leads to the common complaints of nausea, vomiting, and breast tenderness that many women experience, along with an increased sex drive.”
Strangely enough, that increase in hormones can also do the exact opposite. “A sudden spike in these hormones takes pregnant women into a whirlwind of emotions,” Graveris said. “Instead of feeling energized, most pregnant women feel exhausted and drained. Morning sickness, exhaustion, breast sensitivity, and other bodily changes are expected at this period, making women feel less interested in sex.”
The same is true as you near the end of your pregnancy. “Low libido is also common during the last three months of pregnancy or as the birth of your baby approaches,” Graveris said. “Getting in the mood becomes a challenge due to rapid weight gain, body aches, swelling, and exhaustion.” Truly, there is a huge spectrum, so just know that your sex drive, as well as your reaction to physical touch in general, can increase, decrease, or stay the same — and all of it is par for the course.
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How to increase sex drive during pregnancy
Unfortunately, there's no magic bullet to do this, there's no safe supplement to rev your engines, and most food-related advice is junk. The best thing you can do in this situation is be communicative with your partner(s) about it. “[It’s] important that you tell your partner (if you have one) what's going on,” sexual health and relationship therapist Dr. Jess O'Reilly, Ph.D., of Sex With Dr. Jess, tells Romper. “Why are you not in mood? Exhaustion? Nausea? They may assume the worst, so talking about what you're feeling is of paramount importance."
O'Reilly reiterates, "It's important for you to know that you don't have to have sex. Your relationship will survive a temporary sex hiatus." (Even if pregnancy sometimes feels like it passes in dog years.) However, there are some tricks that may boost your mood, if you feel like you want to try to hop in the sack.
Try out erotica
O'Reilly begins with my personal favorite — erotic literature. Yes, those sexy books and podcasts with all manner of hot dialogue and descriptions may be your key to getting aroused. "Many women find that they respond more strongly to stories than visual cues,” she shares.
Employ some sex toys
O'Reilly’s next suggestion is one I didn't think of, and I'm ashamed to admit it. Give yourself the happy hands or vibrator treatment first. "Your needs may have changed for both emotional and physical reasons — perhaps you need to try a new position or stimulate a different area to get turned on,” O'Reilly says. “Pregnancy, like all transitional periods, requires a degree of unlearning old habits and relearning new ones."
Be a little selfish
As another suggestion, O'Reilly says that you should not be afraid to be a little demanding in the bedroom (with consent, of course). Perhaps, for example, you kindly ask your partner to go down on you. She notes that people with vulvas often feel undue pressure to perform for their partner, even when they're hugely pregnant. "Screw that,” O’Reilly says. “Ask for what you want. You're going to need this skill once the child arrives, and it will pay off in and out of the bedroom."
Find intimacy elsewhere
OK, so maybe sex is off the table for you right now — that doesn’t mean you have to lose all sense of romance and intimacy. “Intimacy is about much more than simply having S.E.X.,” relationship therapist Rebecca Wong previously told Romper. “Often the things that matter most are the littlest moments of the day that you forget to focus on.” Turn your attention to flirting, surprising each other, enjoying nights out, and just hanging around each other.
Don’t force it
The ultimate tip when it comes to sex during pregnancy is to be kind to yourself. If your body isn’t in the mood for sex, don’t make yourself do it. “Self-acceptance, honesty, and communication are vital ingredients in dealing with a low sex drive between couples throughout all pregnancy stages,” Graveris said. “I cannot emphasize enough the importance of constantly communicating with your partner during this stage of your partnered life to keep the intimacy alive.”
Again, it's important to know that this is just a season in your life, and it will pass. Even if it’s frustrating, just remember that you're not alone. Talk to your partner about how you're feeling, and if you're interested in increasing your sex drive, try out some of these expert tips. But if they don’t seem to do the trick — oh well! Your libido will eventually return, so don't put any pressure on yourself. And remember — you're pregnant. Your comfort is what matters the most.
Dainis Graveris, certified sex educator and relationship expert at SexualAlpha
Dr. Peace Nwegbo-Banks, M.D., FACOG, OB-GYN
Dr. Jess O'Reilly, Ph.D., sexual health and relationship therapist of Sex With Dr. Jess
Rebecca Wong, relationship therapist
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