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Sex During Pregnancy: Everybody's Doing It… Or Not Doing It… Or Doing It Alone… Or While Sleeping…

I am always so relieved when the words “And the survey says… ” are followed by “it really depends.” So you can imagine my delight when I came across a study showing that women and men react to sex during pregnancy in a huge variety of ways. According to data compiled by sex-educators Anne Semans and Cathy Winks and reported in Psychology Today:  Some pregnant women “experienced a sexual awakening, others felt turned off.” Men’s libido changed, too. And not always in predictable ways.

Some pregnant women experience orgasm for the first time when pregnant. (Hmm, I guess that’s good news?) Many women reported stronger orgasms that were easier to achieve. And, here’s a good excuse to get busy: a study involving 596 pregnant women showed that lots of orgasms in the 3rd trimester correlated with reduced risk of prematurity. But really, don’t have sex because you’re worried about premature labor. The take-away here is: sex is generally a good, healthy thing to do.

Researching From The Hips, Rebecca and I learned that very sexual and orgasmic dreams were not uncommon in pregnancy. There are a bunch of reasons for this; engorged body parts high among them. Some women are so turned on during pregnancy they want sex constantly and not necessarily with anyone else. As Paula Bomer wrote in her pornographic story, Knocked Up and Getting Off’: “I’d borrow porn tapes from friends and spend hours watching them whacking off….these were the orgasms you’d read about in yoga books.” (Parental Advisory: The content of this story is explicit).

But not all of us feel it. At all. Sometimes those engorged genitals just feel large and heavy and numb. Sometimes one pregnancy triggers orgasms, while another doesn’t. And while some men love the curves of pregnancy and find this an incredibly sexual and sexy time, others are just not in the mood, especially in the third trimester. As I discovered yesterday, expecting dads can have lower levels of testosterone around the birth, which would explain a dip in libido at the end of pregnancy.

The article goes on to discuss the myriad ways sex plays out postpartum. I think an important message about sex during this transitional time is that there’s a lot of change and adjusting to be done. Sometimes the conventional wisdom (the second trimester is “the sexy trimester”) or doctor recommendations (you can have sex at 6 weeks postpartum) don’t match your reality. Some women are eager to have sex before six weeks is up. Many more others need more time. Or they would love to have sex in theory but it’s just not happening; the logistics are—no pun intended– insurmountable.

photo: Clair Kennedy/Flickr

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