With four young girls, including toddler twins, Macy Jensen is often too tired for sex with her husband. When she is in the mood though, she wants it to be kinkier than ever before. With each of her three pregnancies, her appetite for adventurous sex increased. “Towards the end of my second pregnancy,” she says, “what I liked drastically changed. All of a sudden I was interested and enjoyed anal sex.” With her twin pregnancy, the preference became stronger — it’s now more often than not her chosen sexual experience. “I’m wondering if it will change again after my upcoming hysterectomy,” she says.
Does pregnancy affect your sexual fantasies?
Jensen’s shifting sexual appetite during pregnancy is normal, says Dr. Jenn Mann, a sex therapist with a weekly In Style column called “Hump Day with Dr. Jenn.” (Yes, it is released each Wednesday, of course.) She’s been working with couples for decades, all the way back to when she hosted the infamous VH1 Couples Therapy. "During pregnancy, women have a higher level of estrogen and progesterone as well as an increase blood flow to the genitals, which can make them want more sex,” she tells Romper.
What about the added kink, though? It’s a natural reaction to an increased sex drive, says Mann. “Sometimes turning the dial up on sexual desire can make women more in touch with secret sexual desires or fantasies that they might not have voiced prior to their pregnancies.”
That’s just what happened to Adrienne Marshall, who is a mom to one toddler. When she was pregnant, her fantasies and desires went in to absolute overdrive — to the point where her husband was completely overwhelmed. “I would be like, ‘If you could tie me up and spank me while maybe choking me and then put it in my vagina and then my butt while also calling me a slut, that would be great,’” Marshall shares.
Even many pregnant women who consider themselves straight first become interested in other women during pregnancy. Whether it’s the raging hormones or just the fact that studies show more than half of women who identify as straight have same-sex attraction, it’s very normal.
Krista Hammerbacher Haapala has been practicing as a sexologist for nearly two decades. That means she works with both couples and individuals to enhance their sex lives — in both physical and emotional ways. This change in sexual fantasies can be stressful or even embarrassing for women who have grown up in our sexually repressive culture, she says. “It’s almost universal that women are encouraged through cultural coercion to feel shame about their sexual energy. Oftentimes, women who are becoming parents have become settled in their shame, meaning they’ve ‘made peace’ with the shame they experience through their sexual pleasure,” she says.
Once those pregnancy hormones kick in, though desire can ramp up — though they aren’t the root causes of new sexual appetites. “Hormones alone won’t necessary change your sexual interest, but can affect desire, arousal, and creativity around sex.”
For Carlita Juarez, she felt so amazed by her own body during pregnancy that it just made sense to her to become obsessed with other women’s bodies, too. “There’s like an ancestral theme from way back when, when it was really the women and the children in the village living together and supporting each other and the men were really out doing other things most of the time,” she tells Romper. She never told her husband about her attraction, because he would be upset, she thinks. She was able to explore her desires through porn and masturbation on her own.
How do new sexual desires during pregnancy affect your partner?
Like Juarez, many pregnant women are scared to tell their partners what they want — especially if it’s less conventional or taboo in their community. Fear of rejection or judgment during a time when moms already feel vulnerable can make it hard to know how to broach the subject.
Mann offers some advice for navigating these conversations. “If you are someone who is having dramatic changes in the types of activities that you like to do sexually, it is important to approach your partner gently about this. Everyone has their own comfort zone about what they are willing to try or how open they want their relationship.” Pregnancy, she says, does not change the previous commitments you’ve made in your relationship. If one partner wants to do something the other is not comfortable with, it is necessary to respect those boundaries.
“Work together to come up with compromises. If you’re not open to bringing a third-party into your relationship, for example, maybe you can experiment with porn or sexual fantasy."
Haapala encourages couples to give each other grace, too. Parenthood changes many things about a relationship. “Make these conversations fun! Although new parents may be experiencing a different level of freedom than they are used to, that doesn’t have to mean that their sex life can’t continue to thrive and be passionate, satisfying, and creative.”
For many women, their zestier appetite recedes after delivery, though not always — and that’s OK.
Marshall’s urges have dialed down a bit in the two years since giving birth, but the couple still has more “vanilla” sex a few times per week and really enjoy one another. “He did recently get this bondage kit to try, though. So maybe he remembers the baby sex and my... requests.”
Dr. Jenn Mann, sex therapist
Krista Hammerbacher Haapala, MSW, Sexologist