7 Uncomfortable Pregnancy Sex Issues (and How to Deal)

All kinds of things might be going on with your body—but they don’t have to interfere with your sex life.
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Updated January 10, 2022
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Sex during pregnancy can feel very different from sex pre-pregnancy—and you may find yourself dealing with some unexpected changes. After all, your body undergoes a significant transformation to grow and carry a baby, and that can prompt new sensations—both physical and emotional—that may call for some adjustments to your normal routine in the bedroom. But it doesn’t need to put a damper on your sex life! In fact, this may be a great way to prepare for the unexpected surprises you’ll face after baby arrives.

“For couples, pregnancy is probably the first time there’s a change in their sex life since they’ve been together,” says Judith Steinhart, Ed.D, a New York City–based clinical sexologist and sexuality educator. “I would like to think it prepares people for the changes that will happen over their lifetime together.”

While change is a natural part of parenthood, when it comes to the bedroom, some of the shifts that occur during pregnancy can be a little uncomfortable. Here’s how to deal so they don’t interfere with your sex life.

Issue #1: Feeling Unattractive

Some women feel incredibly sexy during pregnancy, but that’s not always the case. Pregnancy brings tons of bodily changes that can leave you feeling a little uncomfortable in your own skin, such as bloating, excessive sweating and weight gain (which is necessary for a healthy pregnancy!).

How to deal: Change your way of talking to yourself. “It’s not easy, but you have to tell yourself you’re still you and you’re still lovely and maybe lovelier. Instead of saying, ‘I’m so fat,’ say, ‘I’m not fat; I’m pregnant! Isn’t this wonderful?’” Along with kinder self-talk, think about small changes to your beauty routine that may help get you feeling good. Put on some lipstick, blow out your hair, get a pedicure—whatever it is that normally boosts your confidence can help you feel sexy again.

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Issue #2: Increased Discharge

Thanks to increases in estrogen and progesterone, your body produces more vaginal discharge during pregnancy—which may leave you feeling extra damp down there. It may not be your favorite pregnancy symptom, but discharge actually serves a really important purpose—it helps get rid of bacteria that could harm you and baby.

How to deal: While you don’t want to get rid of the discharge; you might be looking for ways to mentally minimize its existence. One tip is to be proactive in making yourself feel good. Consider using pregnancy-safe self-care products that make you feel your best. Breathable cotton underwear can also help keep you more comfortable throughout the day. If the extra discharge is getting in the way in the bedroom, maybe skip the bed altogether and opt for shower sex—just be careful not to slip, as your center of gravity is off during pregnancy. Remember to think positively and remind yourself that while you may not love it, the discharge serves an important purpose!

Issue #3: Extra Sensitivity

For some (really lucky) moms-to-be, the increased blood flow to the pelvic region makes them more sensitive in a really, really good way (read: more orgasms). But for others, the sensitivity can make sex uncomfortable and maybe even painful.

How to deal: Switch up positions to see if the other moves are more comfortable for you. Being on top or having your partner behind you might be more enjoyable. But if that’s not working, it’s okay to say no to sex. There are some other fun things you two can do together that don’t involve penetration (think back to high school).

Issue #4: Sore Breasts

They may look fantastically plump right now, but if your breasts feel sore when your partner touches them, know you’re not alone. Your breasts start getting ready to make milk early on in pregnancy, and that increased blood flow to the chest—particularly during the first trimester—can make them achy and sensitive.

How to deal: Be honest and open with your partner about how uncomfortable it is. They may have to keep their hands off (and you may want less bouncing happening during the deed) for a little while. “Whatever the issue is, it isn’t going to last forever,” reminds Steinhart. Many moms-to-be find the soreness goes away in the second trimester. (You might prefer your partner to keep their hands off later on if you’re breastfeeding too, so the practice is a good idea.)

Issue #5: A Lagging Libido

When you’re falling asleep at 8 p.m. and puking at 6 a.m. (or all hours of the day), it can be hard to find yourself wanting sex at all.

How to deal: “Your partner has to know it’s not about lack of love,” says Steinhart. “Not only should they not take it personally, but they have to be comfortable being sexual alone.” Explain to your partner that it’s your body that’s not into it right now, not your heart, and that you want to get back on track when you’re feeling better.

Issue #6: A Surging Libido!

Look out for the second trimester: This is the time when pregnancy might actually be making you want sex more than in your pre-pregnancy life. While this can be a good thing, recognize that your libido may not match up with your partner’s. It can sometimes be intimidating for your partner if your sexual energy surpases your usual pattern, Steinhart explains: “Your partner might get worried about not being able to please you.”

How to deal: If your libido isn’t in sync with your partner’s, don’t be afraid to go solo. Your partner can always jump in later on or include themselves in ways that may not be typical for you in the bedroom.

Issue #7: A Partner Who’s Not Into It

Your partner may be worried about hurting baby (they won’t) or baby “knowing” you’re having sex. Or, perhaps they’re just not in the mood (hey, it happens!).

How to deal: Show them the facts. “The baby is protected and will not get hurt,” says Steinhart. Unless you have a certain condition that would prompt your doctor to caution against sex, it’s deemed perfectly safe during pregnancy. And we promise baby won’t know what’s going on—they just know you’re moving around.

The most important thing to remember as you navigate sex during pregnancy? Keep an open line of clear communication with your partner to ensure both of your needs are being met.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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