Is Loss of Libido Common 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 often just the opposite is true. While increased blood flow to the breasts and genitals can result in greater sensitivity and the potential for arousal, other factors can seriously undermine a pregnant woman's sex drive.

There are a number of reasons why the changes a woman experiences during pregnancy can affect her physical and emotional state, and by extension, her libido.

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—and neither of these will 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.

Low Sex Drive During Pregnancy—Boy or Girl?

There is an old wive's tale that a person's libido during pregnancy could potentially predict the sex of the baby. According to this theory, people who have a greater sex drive during pregnancy are going to have a boy due to the increase of testosterone in the body. Meanwhile, the theory indicates that if a person has a low libido they are going to have a girl. There is no research to support this claim, though.

Changes in the Second and Third Trimesters

By about week 10, things may start to turn around. Your elevated hormones will begin to drop, and many of the adverse effects of early pregnancy (such as nausea, queasiness, and vomiting) should also subside.

As energy levels recover, so too may 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, can 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 in 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 approach your due date. Still, this is not always the case for every woman. Many enjoy sex just as much in the later stages of pregnancy, although they may have less of it.

There Is No Right Amount of Sex

The pattern of ups and downs a woman experiences during pregnancy is by no means set or consistent from person to person or pregnancy to pregnancy. Some women report a minimal drop in sex drive and find that the sensory overload enhances their sex life.

Others, meanwhile, feel an enormous loss if a pregnancy changes the nature of their sexual relationship in any way. A woman's sex drive during her pregnancy is as unique and individual as she is with no right or wrong experience.

Dealing With Low Libido

Dealing with the loss of libido requires honesty, self-acceptance, and communication. Your partner can sympathize with the effect hormones 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 they might make in an effort to be helpful.

These strategies may also help:

  • Engage in other kinds of intimacy. If you don't have time or energy for intercourse, try other intimate activities such as giving each other a massage or back rub.
  • Get enough sleep. 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 wanting it) all the more difficult.
  • Tend to your physical wellness. Try to exercise and eat well when you can. These two things can also boost energy and confidence levels.
  • Try different sexual positions. 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. Experiment with pregnancy-friendly sex positions, such as side-to-side or woman on top (so that there is no added pressure on the abdomen).

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, your doctor may recommend abstaining from sex.

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.

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Galazka I, Drodzdoi-Cop N, Naworska B, et al. Changes in the sexual function during pregnancy. J Sex Med. 2015;12(2):445-454. doi:10.1111/jsm.12747

  2. Jones C, Chan C, Farine D. Sex in pregnancy. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2011;183(7):815-818. doi:10.1503/cmaj.091580

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.