Is Loss of Libido Common in Pregnancy?

Sexual desire can change due to hormonal fluctuations in pregnancy.

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It is a popular belief that a woman's libido, or sex drive, will inherently increase during pregnancy, but this isn't always the case for every woman. While increased blood flow to the breasts and genitals can result in greater sensitivity and the potential for arousal, other factors can seriously undermine the sex drive. There are various reasons why the hormonal changes a woman experiences during pregnancy can affect her physical and emotional state.

Low Libido in the First Trimester

Pregnancy triggers significant hormonal changes in preparation for the birth of your baby. These same changes can elicit feelings of happiness and optimism one day and plunge you into a vortex of anger or despair the next. While these fluctuations are perfectly normal, they can leave you feeling drained and exhausted.

When it comes to sex drive, the sudden surge of progesterone and estrogen during the first trimester can have a contradictory effect. The sensory overstimulation may leave you feeling edgy rather than energized. Morning sickness and fatigue are also common, both of which won't exactly enhance sexual desire.

To make matters worse, you may experience feelings of guilt if faced with a loss of libido. You may suddenly feel the pressure to have sex before your body changes even more, which can fuel feelings of self-doubt and also leave you feeling as if you've let your partner down.

Changes in the Second and Third Trimester

Fortunately, by around week 10, things will likely start to turn around. Your elevated hormones will begin to drop, and many of the adverse effects of pregnancy (such as nausea, queasiness, and vomiting) should also subside. As energy levels quickly recover, so, too, will your sense of well-being and sexual desire. At the same time, an increase in vaginal lubrication, accompanied by the engorgement of the clitoris and vagina, may enhance both the quality and frequency of sex.

It is not uncommon for women to report being orgasmic or even multi-orgasmic for the first time in their lives during their second trimester of pregnancy due to the physiological changes they're experiencing.

But then, by the third trimester, things can swing in the opposite direction once again. Weight gain, back pain, and other symptoms can make "getting in the mood" all the more difficult as you get closer to your due date. Still, this is not always the case for every woman. Many women, in fact, will tell you that they enjoy sex just as much in the later stages of pregnancy, even if they have it less.

There Is No Right Amount of Sex

The pattern of ups and downs a woman may experience during pregnancy is by no means set. Some women report a minimal drop in sex drive and find that the sensory overload only enhances their sex life. Others, meanwhile, feel an enormous loss if a pregnancy changes the nature of their sexual relationship in any way. It is all an individual experience with no right or wrong experiences.

Dealing with the loss of libido requires honesty, self-acceptance, and communication. Your partner is likely to sympathize with the effect hormones can have on your body if you're open about what you're feeling and experiencing both physically and emotionally. If you don't feel sexy, tell your partner and try not to immediately dismiss any comments he might make in an effort to be helpful.

Other helpful tips include:

  • Try to get a full eight hours of sleep every night. Insufficient sleep will add up over time and can make the ability to have sex (much less want it) all the more difficult.
  • If you don't have time or energy for intercourse, try other intimate activities such as giving each other a massage or back rub.
  • Try to exercise and eat well when you can. These two things can also boost energy and confidence levels.
  • Don't let the size of your belly make you feel awkward or interfere with your sex life. Instead, focus on what feels physically comfortable and experiment with side-to-side positions or get on top so that there is no added pressure on the abdomen. Switch it up.
  • Don't be afraid of sex hurting your baby. Sexual intercourse does not lead to miscarriage or trigger premature birth. However, if you are having a complicated pregnancy, be sure to speak with your doctor to ensure that having sex is not going to be a problem.

A Word From Verywell

Experiencing a lowered sex drive is a normal part of pregnancy for many women, and it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you. By being open with your partner and your doctor about what you're feeling, you can take steps to ensure you're as comfortable as you can be during this stage of your life.

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