Is it common for a man to have a lower sex drive when his wife is pregnant?

Is it common for a man to have a lower sex drive when his wife is pregnant? August 25, 2009

Is it common for a man to have a lower sex drive while his wife is pregnant? When I was pregnant with our first and only baby (so far) my husband rarely initiated, whereas he regularly initiates (at least 4 times a week), and so it really hurt my feelings. I told him so and he said he has a hard time being interested, not because he isn’t attracted to me, but because he felt like I was some kind of holy vessel (ridiculous in my opinion) as I was carrying our baby and that sex felt inappropriate. Of course, now that I have a toddler, I have the lower libido, but we have a very giving, compromising relationship that I feel good about.

Yes, it can be common for some men to experience a change in their libido (both lower and higher) as they deal with the psychological and visual ramifications of their wives being pregnant. Much of this has to do with their level of education on the topic, religious perceptions and cultural perceptions.

Education: Some men (and women) are just lacking in the proper education of what to expect and what is OK or not OK when it comes to sexual activity once the wife is pregnant. For pregnancies that are considered “normal,” sexual activity is deemed perfectly appropriate by most obgyns. The uterus is positioned much higher than the vaginal opening (see below) and therefore, it is not possible for the penis to penetrate the uterus, or to touch or harm the baby in any way. If there are any medical concerns, the obgyn will bring them up to the couple in question and provide correct guidelines as to how to proceed.


Religion: It is unfortunate that age-old religious culture has done so much to separate sex from anything pure or righteous. What a disservice to the human race! Even our beloved stories regarding our most pivotal women, mother Eve (perceived by many as a seductress and misguided temptress) and Mary, mother of Jesus (with so much emphasis centered on her virginity) carry with them much cultural clout that does little to integrate the role of being a mother and the role of being a lover. And yet, this is necessary to begin any family. It would behoove us to remember that the role of Mary being a virgin vessel had little to do with her sexuality per se (although I am in no way minimizing her important choice to remain chaste), but more the importance of understanding that Joseph was not Jesus’ biological father – instead Christ was the Son of God. We know she went on to have several other children with Joseph and therefore had what I’m hoping was a loving and appropriate sexual relationship with her husband. But this is not highlighted in religious history and both men and women are left with an underlying conflict that has not been adequately addressed in our overall culture. Therein lies your husband’s psychological conflict of seeing you as a “holy vessel” and not being able to have that coexist with what he normally perceives as his sexy and sensual wife. Let’s try to remember that the sex is what brought about your holy vessel to begin with. 🙂

Culture: We live in a time when thin, flat-bellied, muscular, and well endowed women are revered and desired. Both men and women are bombarded by images of what the perfect woman is supposed to look like – and she’s usually not pregnant (although the pregnant female is becoming less taboo and more photographed here lately). Whether we like it or not, our psyches are affected by these images, which in turn affect our sexual turn-ons. Unfortunately some men really struggle with seeing their wives bodies change into a rounder, softer form. Hopefully those who feel this way, will take the time and effort to challenge their thinking. Thank goodness, there are many men who are fascinated with the changes they see in their wives’ bodies, finding the new curves and roundness sexy and flattering. Not to mention the pride that goes along with the fact that this woman is carrying his child. The additional plus that most women become larger breasted while pregnant doesn’t hurt either on the side of being found sexy by the husband.

Some FYIs for educational purposes:
  • Many women experience a higher sex drive while pregnant due to increased hormones, more enjoyable outcomes due to the increase in blood flow to the vaginal/clitoral/labial area, and less worry about body image since it’s more acceptable to be round and plump while pregnant. This increased interest in sex can take some husbands (and even wives themselves) by surprise – hopefully in a good way. I encourage couples to enjoy this heightened time together since the care of a new baby and the lower sex drive women usually experience postpartum and through their breast-feeding months will cause a normal slow down in sexual activity for a while.
  • Not all women experience this higher sex drive. Those especially who deal with excessive nausea may understandably not get “in the mood” as often, and for some women the increase in blood flow can make it so that penile penetration can become surprisingly painful.
  • Having sex towards the end of pregnancy is theorized to help induce labor. Semen contains prostaglandins which can play a role in softening the cervix and help towards dilation. It is not proven that semen contains sufficient amounts of prostaglandins so this theory is still up in the air. However, orgasms produce oxytocin which is the hormone that causes contractions. So, in my book having sex at least can’t hurt the cause of trying to get things going.
  • Some research is showing that parents having sex can actually have a calming effect on a fetus and even a newborn (supposing it is sleeping in the same bedroom as its parents). While the fetus is in the uterus, all it will feel during sexual intercourse is a rhythmic rocking (much like the times when the mother is up and walking around). The newborn infant will find comfort in the sounds of lovemaking (the uterus is actually a very noisy place, and newborns have a hard time adjusting to the “quietness” of the outside world).
I’m encouraged by your description of your relationship being one of compromise and love. Hopefully if you and your husband decide to have another child, you can use these strengths to further open the lines of communication and better enjoy your sexuality during this special time.

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