What Pregnancy Sex Is Really Like

A trimester-by-trimester guide to getting busy during pregnancy.

hands on pregnant belly in bed
Photo: Jes2u.photo/Shutterstock

Sex is different for everyone, so it's no surprise that sex during pregnancy is different for everyone. Sometimes dramatically different. Like, polar opposite.

"Some women have the best sex of their lives during pregnancy," says pediatrician Ari Brown, M.D., author of Expecting 411. After all, your nipples are more sensitive, your clitoris, vagina, and vulva are engorged with blood flow, and there's more vaginal lubrication -- all of which can boost both desire and enjoyment.

But on the flip side, some women have zero desire. "Their boobs hurt, their back is sore, they have cankles, and they can't ever get comfortable enough to sleep at night," Dr. Brown says. "And if sex hurts, it's not fun for anyone." In this camp? Make sure you still maintain some kind of intimate connection with your partner. "It keeps your relationship alive and thriving beyond being buddies or roommates," Dr. Brown says. "It also helps you weather the physical and emotional stressors of pregnancy."

Surprisingly, you may experience both extremes during your pregnancy — and that's totally normal. Here's a trimester-by-trimester look at sex during pregnancy.

RELATED: Your Complete Guide to Pregnancy Sex

First Trimester

If you don't have a high-risk pregnancy and your ob-gyn has given you a green light, you're free to get your sexy on. It shouldn't hurt the baby — or you. Bonus: no more worries about birth control! How you're experiencing the major physical transitions of pregnancy may shape your opinions from there.

Here's why you might say no to pregnancy sex:

You may be too busy throwing up to find sex the least bit tantalizing, and you might be so bone-tired that you're snoring by 6:00 p.m. Your breasts may be over-the-top tender (hands off!), and round ligament pain may leave you crampy. You could also have headaches, as pregnancy hormones surge. Some women, despite their doc's okay, will still be nervous about possibly causing a miscarriage.

Here's why you might say yes to pregnancy sex:

Increased blood flow to your pelvic area has got your privates engorged with blood, which heightens sensation. And instead of "hands off," the newfound sensitivity in your breasts might have you saying, "hands on!" What's more, pregnancy hormones can put sex on the brain, complete with erotic dreams and fantasies.

"You've got 1,000 times more estrogen when you're pregnant, making every area of your body feel more sensitive," says sex educator and best-selling author Lou Paget.

RELATED: 7 Ways to Get in the Mood for Pregnancy Sex

Second Trimester

"This is a golden time for sex," says Lauren Streicher, M.D., an obstetrician and the author of Love Sex Again. "Your hormones are surging but your belly's not so big that you're uncomfortable, plus you're past the worry about miscarriage."

Why you might say no to pregnancy sex:

As your belly grows and you begin looking pregnant, you may start to feel conflicted about having sex during pregnancy. "This is a redefining moment for a woman, when she goes from sex goddess to madonna," Dr. Streicher says.

Your guy may also feel guilty sexualizing the soon-to-be mother of his child, and may worry that he'll hurt the baby or that the baby will "know." For some unfortunate women, morning sickness continues.

Why you might say yes to pregnancy sex:

With extreme queasiness and exhaustion behind you, you're likely to have more energy, and your blossoming bod may make you feel more sensual. Your privates are now even more engorged and lubricated. Some women report becoming orgasmic — even multiorgasmic — for the first time during this stage of pregnancy. Yowza!

RELATED: The Best Sex Positions for Pregnant Women

Third Trimester

"Sex may take a backseat during the third trimester," Dr. Streicher says. "You have to be prepared to roll with the punches and know that you will eventually have sex again — this is temporary."

Why you might say no to pregnancy sex:

Your oversize belly could make it harder for you to find comfortable positions, and you're starting to tire easily. It's hard work making a baby! Some women have pain or spotting after sex — with all that engorgement, tiny blood vessels can break, which is normal but distressing. You may worry about kick-starting labor prematurely, but that won't happen unless your cervix is ripe and ready to go.

Why you might say yes to pregnancy sex:

Pregnancy hormones may be keeping sex top of mind, and all the body parts that have been engorged and sensitized are even more so now. Your partner may be turned on by your fertility goddess look, and the two of you may be having fun exploring new creative positions.

"If you are having a normal pregnancy, there really is no reason not to be sexual and intimate throughout your pregnancy, if you so desire," Paget says.

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