You hear all sorts of things about sex in pregnancy, so it’s hard to know what to believe. Will sex suddenly seem even more appealing or will it be the last thing on your mind? The truth is, you might experience changes in your sex drive and sex life as your pregnancy progresses. Here’s what you should know…
Pregnancy triggers many changes that can affect a woman’s sex drive. Higher levels of estrogen and progesterone, as well as an increase in blood flow to the genitals, can lead to heightened sexual desire. On the other hand, nausea, fatigue, stress, and the many physical changes that occur as a result of pregnancy can reduce a woman’s desire to have sex.
Women will not all react in the same way to hormonal changes. However, it is common for a woman’s sex drive to decrease during the first trimester, peak in the second, and go down again in the third.
Benefits of Sex During Pregnancy
According to a reproductive psychiatrist and certified sexual health therapist, Dr. Cirino who helps women who are struggling with emotional or mental health barriers to healthy sex life, studies have shown that sex is extremely beneficial to a woman’s health. Sex activates a variety of neurotransmitters that impact not only our brains but several other organs in our bodies.
Here are 4 categories of pregnant women who should consider having sex regularly
Pregnant women with depression and anxiety issues: It’s normal to feel a little worried and stressed when you’re pregnant, but for some people, anxiety can become a real problem and they will need professional help. Sex can help you to relax, and take your mind off everyday worries and anxieties. During sex, your body releases endorphins and oxytocin, and these feel-good hormones create feelings of relaxation and intimacy, as well as help to stave off anxiety and depression.
Pregnant women with aches and pain issues: As your body changes during pregnancy, you’ll feel new aches and pains. Body aches in early pregnancy may be due to hormonal changes. As pregnancy progresses, physical changes can lead to back pain, pelvic pain, round ligament pain, and sciatica. Studies suggest a good orgasm can more than double a woman’s tolerance for pain. One study even found that when women were in the throes of a climax, their pain thresholds increased by more than 108 percent. Researchers believe muscular contractions and chemicals released during orgasm tamp down aches.
Pregnant women with blood pressure issues: In the United States, high blood pressure happens in 1 in every 12 to 17 pregnancies among women ages 20 to 44. High blood pressure in pregnancy has become more common. However, with good blood pressure control, you and your baby are more likely to stay healthy. Having regular sex can stimulate the release of oxytocin, which can help lower your blood pressure. Not only is lower blood pressure good for your overall health, but it’s especially helpful when you and your baby could be at risk for preeclampsia.
Pregnant women and the better immune system: Unfortunately, pregnant women don’t just have to deal with morning sickness, backaches, swollen ankles, cravings, and fatigue. Pregnancy can also lower your immune system, leaving you extra susceptible to ailments like the flu and the common cold. In a study of immunity in people in romantic relationships, people who had frequent sex (one to two times a week) had more immunoglobulin A (IgA) in their saliva. People who had infrequent sex (less than once a week) had significantly less IgA.
IgA is the antibody that plays a role in preventing illnesses and is the first line of defense against human papillomavirus, or HPV. But those who had sex more than three times a week had the same amount of IgA as those who had infrequent sex.
It’s perfectly safe to have sex regularly during pregnancy unless your doctor or midwife has told you not to. Having sex will not hurt your baby. A sperm or penetrative sex toy cannot penetrate beyond your vagina, and the baby cannot tell what’s going on. However, it’s normal for your sex drive to change during pregnancy.