Somewhere between all of the morning sickness and exhaustion, many pregnant women realize they have absolutely zero desire to get it on — at all. It makes sense that registries and doctor visits rank higher on your to-do list than sex right now, but is it normal to have low sex drive during pregnancy?
“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, tells 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.”
Despite the fact that you might have envisioned yourself as a picture-perfect sex goddess during pregnancy (hi, new boobs!), in reality, that’s just often not the case. Plenty of women feel uncomfortable with sex or even completely turned off altogether as their bodies morph and grow.
How Pregnancy Impacts Your Sex Drive
Graveris tells Romper that having a decreased sex drive could happen at different points in pregnancy for different women, but that it’s most common during the first and last trimesters.
“During the first trimester, your body triggers the release of estrogen and progesterone hormones in preparation for delivery. A sudden spike in these hormones takes pregnant women into a whirlwind of emotions. 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,” Graveris says. “Low libido is also common during the last three months of pregnancy or as the birth of your baby approaches. Getting in the mood becomes a challenge due to rapid weight gain, body aches, swelling, and exhaustion.”
Add in physical discomfort and the anxiety surrounding welcoming a new life into the world, and it’s no wonder you’re not really in the mood. Relationship therapist and connectfulness coach, Rebecca Wong, says a low libido can actually impact our non-pregnant partners, too. “It’s really common for both of your sex drives to ebb and flow during pregnancy,” Wong tells Romper. She explains that there are physical, hormonal, and psychological changes happening when a couple gears up for parenthood (or parenthood again).
None of this is abnormal, but it’s still important to be aware of how pregnancy is affecting your libido. “What’s key is that you are tuning in and acknowledging the changes you both feel,” Wong says. That’s right — both of you.
What A Low Libido During Pregnancy Can Feel Like
“Physical touch can feel very different — sometimes more pleasurable, sometimes less, and sometimes the amount of pleasure might feel unsettling,” Wong says. Nipple play, for example, could suddenly feel really good when it never did anything for you before. Conversely, it might make you want to crawl right out of your own skin.
I can’t tell you the number of friends who’ve confessed their nine-month dry spells — both men and women. One friend, a 30-year-old mom of two, said she couldn’t stomach the thought of getting physical in any capacity. “We resorted to a lot of foot rubs and massages, so we could physically touch and be close without me having to take off my underwear,” she said.
Another friend, a 27-year-old mom of three, experienced highs and lows throughout her pregnancies, with no rhyme or reason as to why she’d suddenly hit a sex slump. During one of my pregnancies, I felt the least sexy during the nearly 12 straight weeks of morning sickness I experienced, but by the second trimester, I was ready to rock and roll. It truly is different for everyone.
What Can You Do About Low Sex Drive During Pregnancy?
If you, too, are in a pregnancy-induced sex slump, don’t stress it. Accept how you’re feeling, talk about it openly with your partner, and focus on the smaller moments of connection.
“Self-acceptance, honesty, and communication are vital ingredients in dealing with a low sex drive between couples throughout all pregnancy stages,” Graveris says. “I cannot emphasize enough the importance of constantly communicating with your partner during this stage of your partnered life to keep the intimacy alive.”
If your body is not feeling up for sex, you can still experience partnership and intimacy in other ways. Flirting with one another, doing activities together, enjoying a night out, or even booking a babymoon can help keep the spark alive even when you’re not actively going at it. And if one thing leads to another, that’s perfectly OK, too. Just do what feels right for you.
“Intimacy is about much more than simply having S.E.X. And that’s great news because there are times when getting physical is just not in the cards. Often the things that matter most are the littlest moments of the day that you forget to focus on,” Wong says.
Things like how you say “good morning” and “goodnight,” or how you greet one another. How you touch and show affection or attention — eye contact across a room, rubbing up against one another in passing. “In my work with couples, I am always redirecting their attention to body language,” Wong says. “Ask yourself, ‘How does my body language invite my partner in, and how does it reject them?’”
Tuning into these small moments as an ongoing ritual can sustain intimacy and connection when getting busy is absolutely, positively not going to happen. Nurturing your relationship despite the lack of physical engagement is what’s important during this time.
Rebecca Wong, Relationship therapist and connectfulness coach
Dainis Graveris, certified sex educator, relationship expert at SexualAlpha