Here's how to continue enjoying intimacy during pregnancy


Women who have had sexual difficulties have a worse-off experience in pregnancy as their problems may multiply.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • A few women may also get threatened miscarriage as well as premature labour.
  • Women who have had sexual difficulties have a worse-off experience in pregnancy as their problems may multiply.

There are countless reasons why people have affairs. I do not know whether having a pregnant wife is one of them. I explained this to Lorrain when she came to the Sexology Clinic to find out how to satisfy her husband for the nine months she was to be pregnant.

She had just missed her period and the pregnancy test was positive. This was her second pregnancy in a five-year marriage that had its share of troubles.

 “As you remember, in my first pregnancy he had an affair with our housemaid and when I caught him, he blamed me for it, saying that because of my pregnancy, I was not as active sexually as before,” Lorrain explained. That incident caused a lot of stress in the marriage and Lorrain did not want a similar experience.

Of course, sex is not the same when one is pregnant. For most women, the first three months of pregnancy are the most difficult. Because of hormonal changes in the body, most women lose appetite, vomit, have pain in the breasts and feel general malaise.

The urge for sex may go down drastically and if the man is not well informed of these changes, he may think that the woman is just being difficult and unloving. Relationship problems can start at this time. Infact, intimate partner violence has been reported to result from the intimacy troubles of early pregnancy. This is unfortunate because the woman is going through a very difficult time and demands from an unsupportive partner can make pregnancy one hell of an experience.

Women who have had sexual difficulties have a worse-off experience in pregnancy as their problems may multiply. The situation is made worse if the relationship is struggling and if communication is a problem.

In such cases, discussing fears, apprehensions, likes and dislikes about sex can only cause disharmony. What this means is that you are better off solving any sex problems in your relationship before pregnancy comes.

After the first three months of pregnancy most women come to terms with their new status. Troubles of early pregnancy mostly subside. Urge for sex may return fully and for some women, may even supersede the pre-pregnancy state. Due to the hormones of pregnancy, the skin of the woman feels warmer and more blood circulates in the vagina making it warmer too. Breasts grow bigger.

These changes make some men want to have more sex in pregnancy and, if the woman is also enjoying it, intimacy and love build up. All these however depend on how best the first phase of the pregnancy has been handled.

As the pregnancy grows bigger, the couple has to learn new sex positions to continue enjoying sex. A chat with your doctor about recommended positions is important. In some cases, a couple develops fears of hurting the baby. There are many myths around this. The positive myth is that repeated sex helps nourish the baby and the baby will come out stronger.

The negative myths include fear of causing birth defects in the baby, having semen covering the baby at birth and having strange birthmarks. Fortunately, these are just myths. Sex is safe in pregnancy. In the rare instances where there is a pregnancy-related ailment making sex unsafe, your doctor or nurse will always advise you accordingly.

One rare situation where sex may not be advisable in pregnancy is when the woman has vaginal bleeding during the pregnancy. Bleeding through the vagina is not expected when one is pregnant and when it happens it often points to a serious problem. In some cases of bleeding, abstinence from sex is part of the treatment.

Another situation where sex is not allowed is when the waters have broken. This is characterised by urine-like fluid flowing uncontrollably from the vagina. Most of the time waters break when the pregnancy is mature and labour is about to start. In some cases, however, it may happen much earlier in pregnancy and carries risks of infection and premature delivery. Sex is not advisable.

A few women may also get threatened miscarriage as well as premature labour. In both cases, the pregnancy is viable but wants to come out before the baby is mature enough for life outside the womb. Treatment is aimed at keeping the pregnancy going and avoidance of sex may be advised as part of it.

In summary, pregnancy is not a death sentence to sex if handled properly. Couples need to get all the information as early as possible on how best to continue being intimate in pregnancy, noting that sex in pregnancy is different from the usual. In all this, however, success only happens if the relationship is itself functional. Otherwise a bad relationship complicated by a pregnancy can be catastrophic for sex and intimacy.