How and Why a Woman’s Libido Shifts During Pregnancy
The SMSNA periodically receives and publishes ‘guest editorials.’ The current article was submitted by Mia Barnes, a freelance writer and researcher who specializes in women's health, wellness, and healthy living. She is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine.
Many women experience ebbs and flows in their libidos throughout their pregnancies. While one woman may have an increased sex drive, another can lack desire altogether. An increased or decreased libido is normal and can vary by the woman and even by pregnancy. Some women experience a high sex drive in their first pregnancy and a low one in their second. Here are some reasons why.
Your hormones are all over the place when you’re pregnant, causing varying emotions. Your hormone levels rise during the first trimester, specifically progesterone, relaxin, and estrogen. Many women experience a loss of libido during the first trimester due to sensitive breasts, morning sickness, and exhaustion.
Morning sickness and other less-than-ideal symptoms affect around 70% of pregnant women. These symptoms can make sex with your partner seem like the furthest thing from your mind. Tips like staying hydrated, frequently consuming small snacks, staying active, and getting plenty of rest can reduce these symptoms. Your increased hormones will level out at around 10-12 weeks and may make you less tired and nauseous, which can work wonders for your sex drive.
Gaining weight is a normal part of pregnancy — women at an average weight typically gain 25-35 pounds while pregnant. You may have various feelings about this. Aches and pains generally start affecting you in your third trimester, which can also decrease your libido. Trying different sex positions or engaging in other forms of intimacy can increase your drive and bring you and your partner closer.
However, some women experience positive feelings related to pregnancy weight gain. It can make them feel more comfortable in their bodies and empower them, knowing they’re creating a tiny human. An empowered woman who is comfortable in her skin is likely to have a high libido due to their strong self-image. Sensitive breasts and increased blood flow to sexual organs can make sex more pleasurable and alluring.
Anxiety and Stress
Anxiety and stress that naturally come with pregnancy can also affect your libido. Negative emotions can lower your sex drive, and so can your limited mobility, which is completely normal. You may be worried that sex will harm your baby, but it won’t unless your practitioner has warned you otherwise. Pregnancy can be an emotional and scary time for some, with up to one in four women experiencing elevated anxiety symptoms.
You can lose sleep from being uncomfortable due to pregnancy which can cause anxiety. You may worry about finances because babies are expensive, and you want to provide the very best for yours. Worrying is normal and comes in many shapes and sizes, but too much can lead to anxiety that isn’t good for you, your baby, or your libido. Mindfulness, journaling, yoga, and massages, as well as ensuring you get adequate rest and exercise can help manage and mitigate anxiety symptoms while pregnant.
Sex Drive During Pregnancy
Embracing the changes pregnancy brings to your body can increase intimacy and strengthen your bond with your partner. Riding the waves of ebbs and flows can help you be comfortable with your body and relationship.
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Americord. 5 Essential First Time Mom Tips for Pregnancy. https://www.americordblood.com/5-essential-first-time-mom-tips-for-pregnancy/
Weiss, Elise Robin. (2022, October 30) Is Loss of Libido Common in Pregnancy? VeryWellFamily. https://www.verywellfamily.com/is-it-normal-to-not-want-sex-in-pregnancy-2759945
(2022, September 26) Anxiety During Pregnancy Can Lead to Earlier Births, Study Finds. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2022/09/pregnancy-anxiety