Sexuality during pregnancy

There are no medical reasons to not have sex during a normal, healthy pregnancy. Still, you and your partner may have shifts in your desire for sex. Her changing body and the stresses of pregnancy make it important to talk to each other about your needs.

During the first trimester of pregnancy, she's likely to feel nauseated and exhausted. Her breasts may be quite tender. She may not look like she's pregnant, but these are the months she may feel the worst. If you have been trying hard to get pregnant, one or both of you may want a short break from sex.

Many women report feeling their highest sexual desire during the middle three months of pregnancy. These months are often the most comfortable time for women.

Your partner's physical changes, however, are becoming more obvious now. You may not feel as attracted to her. You may worry about hurting your baby or feel like you are in bed with a third person.

If you two have had a previous pregnancy with preterm labor, miscarriage or other complications, you may feel especially sensitive and protective.

As the last trimester of pregnancy progresses, sex can be challenging simply because of the size of your growing baby. Finding positions that are comfortable can be an adventure.

Your partner may feel unattractive and large. She may worry that an orgasm might bring on labor. If she is not sleeping well, she may have little energy for sex. Look for other ways to pleasure each other.

What you should know

  • The sound and motion of intercourse can make your baby move around and kick. This doesn't mean your baby is in distress.
  • Your partner's cervix is tender and can bleed easily in late pregnancy. Sex or a vaginal exam may cause light spotting. If the spotting lasts longer than half a day or is bright red, your partner should call her health care provider for advice.
  • Foreplay, intercourse and orgasm can cause uterine contractions. In a normal pregnancy, this is not harmful. However, women at risk for preterm labor are advised to avoid them.

Even if you have sex less often, both of you still need closeness and touching. Think of other ways to express your affection. Help each other relax with a massage, or a hand or foot rub. Snuggle, hug, kiss. Share what you find most appealing about each other.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, seventh edition, ob-ah-90026
First Published: 10/04/2002
Last Reviewed: 12/02/2015