If you’re pregnant, you might see your libido nosedive — or skyrocket — or not change at all. And this could vary depending on which trimester of pregnancy you’re in. If you want to have sex during pregnancy, it’s usually perfectly safe (and your doctor will inform you if it's not). But if you don’t feel up to sex during pregnancy, that is also totally normal.
Alyssa Dweck, MD, a gynecologist who practices in New York, tells Refinery29 that many (though not all) pregnant people have a lower sex drive during their first trimester and a higher sex drive during their second trimester. “In the first trimester, the first 12 or 13 weeks, most people feel pretty lousy — they’re nauseous, they’re tired, and they might not be as inclined to engage,” she explains. “The second trimester is a whole ‘nother issue, however. This is what we often call the ‘honeymoon trimester’ because women feel great — they feel curvy and voluptuous, they physically feel well, and often, they’ll get surges in their libido.”
During the third trimester, especially in the later stages, libido may drop again (though again, not for everyone). Sex might also become more uncomfortable and physically difficult due to the size of that baby bump. However, if you do want to have sex during your third trimester, it should be perfectly safe to (again, unless your doctor informs you otherwise). You'll want to avoid laying directly on your back, but you can adjust or modify some sex positions to be more comfortable. For example, you can place pillows under your back to create a modified, semi-upright missionary position.
About those exceptions: in certain situations, a person’s physician will put them on pelvic rest, which means you should avoid sex and other activities that will place pressure on the pelvis. “This could be for different reasons: some people have a weak cervix, other people have a placenta that’s close to the cervix, and some people are at risk of delivering early,” Dr. Dweck explains. Your doctor will inform you if you need to be on pelvic rest, but if you have any questions about sex during pregnancy, you can always ask.
The usual benefits of sex — pleasure and enjoyment, decreased stress and anxiety, a stronger bond with your partner — don’t go away with pregnancy, and the emotional aspect of sex can sometimes be especially valuable during this time, says Dr. Dweck. “A lot of people feel a little vulnerable during pregnancy, so sex may bring them closer to their partners.” You can even practice BDSM during pregnancy, with a few caveats.
It’s important to keep in mind that there’s a wide variation of "normal" when it comes to your sex drive during pregnancy. “It’s okay if women don’t want to be as sexual during pregnancy, and it’s also okay if women feel more sexual during pregnancy," Dr. Dweck says. "It’s a very individual situation depending on circumstances. Some articles make it sound like women, when they’re pregnant, want to have sex all day — and that’s usually not the case."