Getting pregnant brings about all sorts of changes to your body. Not only is your belly growing, and your stomach may not tolerate the food it used to but your uterus, cervix and vagina change during pregnancy too! It can be normal for either your partner OR you to feel things different during sex. You’ll find that there’s even more changes during first ,second or third trimesters! We’re also going to chat about if sex can hurt the baby — so let’s get going!
Before we get started, how do I know so much about body changes during pregnancy? Hi — I’m Hilary — The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of OB nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 I have helped thousands of pregnant patients with sticky questions like this, along with being pregnant myself three times, so I’m a good resource on this topic.
Will I feel “different” during sex while pregnant?
You may well. If you do it would most likely be from those tissues swelling with increased blood flow. This may be true for both you and/or your partner as well.
If you’re in a partnership it’s so important to keep that strong. Getting prepared together is such a gift to your relationship and your postpartum self! This is the easy way to get prepared.
What Changes in My Vagina During Pregnancy?
Ok, some people aren’t really aware of how the vagina relates to the baby.
First off, you have three holes:
- Urethra — this is where the urine comes out, it is covered by your vulva.
- Vagina — this is where you have sex, and the birth canal (also where blood comes out during your period)
- Rectum — this is where the poop comes out
During pregnancy you have an increased blood flow to that entire zone due to the change in blood flow to your uterus. And, because a lot of these tissues can fairly easily swell — that blood flow can often change them more than other parts of you.
Beyond the increased blood flow, you also have hormonal issues causing changes in these areas as well (like puberty, but even more).
There are changes to all of this area during pregnancy.
The vulva may feel different — or, it may be a different color than it used to be. Many women say that it is much more sensitive (including the clitoris) than it was before pregnancy. However, you might not feel like having sex, and that’s fine too (and not unusual at all).
The vagina may be more swollen with blood flow — making you seem “tighter”. It may also be more sensitive than usual. That’s why penetrative sex during pregnancy may feel different inside than it used to.
Your rectum might also change colors (or be more sensitive) with that increased blood flow as well.
On the other side of that coin, you are at an increased chance of vaginal infections. Yeast infections of vaginitis may cause itchiness. Also, increased vaginal discharge is a normal symptom of pregnancy. Your vagina is just different all around.
With all those changes it can be intimidating — grab my positive affirmations to manifest a great pregnancy & delivery:
Does Sex During Pregnancy Feel Different?
Well, your boyfriend may say that you feel different inside during pregnancy, but you might not feel any different at all. Or, you might not feel anything different til your second trimester, or later. The stages of pregnancy will definitely bring differences to your sex life.
It may hurt more due to the increased blood flow to your vagina (and you may spot a tiny bit after sex — if you are ever concerned by any amount of bleeding, please do call your doctor or midwife). Your partner may feel different to you too!
Sex may also not be something you want for a variety of reasons:
- You’re more tired — and sex is another “job” to do
- You aren’t eating much as morning sicknesss takes over
- Not a fan of your body
- Emotional changes with everything that’s going on
- Worried about him hurting the baby (don’t worry, we’re going to chat about that too).
Pregnancy sex is just different. But, your sex life with your partner is still important. Maybe take some time to cuddle, and feel more connected to start with.
Can sex in pregnancy harm my baby?
So, once your baby is conceived and attaches to the uterine lining your body starts to build something called the mucus plug. It’s sort of like a “cork” at in your cervix (the opening to your uterus). This is one of the physical changes you have no idea is happening.
But, that mucus plug is there to keep any harmful bacteria away from the baby, the amniotic fluid, your amniotic sac and your uterus. Which makes sexual intercourse OK for most pregnant women.
However, please make sure with your provider that you’re OK to have sex and that it won’t hurt your baby or your body. There are some instances like preterm labor, placenta previa or vaginal infections in which you’d need to abstain (at least for a period of time).
As a note, a lot of partners are worried about hurting the baby with sex. So, you can explain to them about the mucus plug and how mother nature is on your side for this one. However, I’d check with your provider about any sex toys that you want to use. And be sure to wash them well after using them since the vaginal changes make you more likely to have an infection.
And remember, if penetrative sex is a no-no there are always plenty of other ways to be sexual with each other. Even just spending time together can feel intimate — and this even makes that time productive!
Can orgasms cause harm to the baby?
Most often, if your pregnancy is routine, an orgasm isn’t an issue. However, if you’ve had issues with preterm labor (or some other issues), they will recommend you not have orgasms, as it releases oxytocin — which can put you into labor.
Orgasms can cause labor (although, not always). So, talk with your doctor or midwife if you have ANY questions.
Usually this is only an issue in the second trimester, and in the beginning of the third trimester (after 37’ish weeks you’ll start to be READY for that baby to come out).
Right after that first pregnancy test happens, you’re in your first trimester — but normally sex at this point is OK. Baby is well protected by a thick uterus. Check with your provider if you have ANY questions about you and your circumstances though.
What if I don’t want to have sex?
The majority of women will have times in their pregnancy that they do not want to have sex. There are just so many changes to your body, and so many demands of a pregnant woman’s body, you may not feel in the mood as much — and that’s OK. In fact, some men said the same thing — they too are just burdened by all the changes.
It might help to discuss what you’re feeling with family or friends. They may have some good ideas, and talking about all these things with your partner is a good idea. Often men find these changes fascinating as nothing is happening to their body!
- Changes in body shape may make the things that used to be fun, less fun.
- Those changes might make a woman feel insecure about their body
- Sometimes the partner commenting on all the changes can be annoying — tell them to stop raving over how different you feel!
- Your desire for sex is down, but that doesn’t mean you don’t love them
- Your breasts may hurt and no longer be supple and softer
As with everything, communication is key for this one.
Your partner should know that your feelings will change a lot from early pregnancy til’ when you’re closer to your due date. You’re likely to experience a lot of changes during this time.
Grab my partner tips here:
As you can tell, there’s LOTS of changes to your body that can change a LOT of things… In my experience, most of the time I was so tired when I was pregnant I wasn’t up to much, but every few weeks my libido would rise and my husband was very happy. So — it really just depending week to week.
Pro Tip: After delivery, your provider will recommend six weeks of pelvic rest (with means nothing in the vagina).
What I really recommend is to take a prenatal class together. The Online Prenatal Class for Couples was created to help couples to prepare together. It’s one of the most connecting things you can do during your pregnancy. And who knows, after you cuddle watching the videos, maybe you’ll be in the mood for something else. 😜
And, if you’re not quite sure you’re ready for that whole thing, check out my free prenatal class. It’s your first step toward getting in the driver’s seat of your birth.
- About the Author
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A nurse since 1997, she has worked in various fields including pediatrics, geriatrics & hospice. She has 20 years of labor and delivery experience in the San Jose, CA and Phoenix, AZ areas.
As an evidence-based prenatal educator Hilary has delivered thousands of babies and has educated hundreds of thousands of parents from a diverse patient population to help them have a confident birth.