by Aline Filipe Nunes, women's health physiotherapist
Pregnancy is an event when many changes occur in a small period of time. The changes can affect your body, your mood, your fatigue levels as well as several psychological and social factors. It is with no surprise that pregnancy can have an impact on your sex life and sexual routine.
Pregnancy is in its core a period of preparation: your body and your mind focus in building a baby but also prepare for the arrival of a new family member. The roles of parenthood start changing here. It is quite common that the future parents start feeling anxious or depressed during pregnancy in anticipation of the arrival of their baby. The anxiety in itself and the anticipation of the impact of the baby in the couple’s life, as well as the anticipation of the changes in the roles, can be enough to change how you feel as a “sexual being”.
I just don't feel like sex now that I am pregnant
During pregnancy, many studies show that there is a decrease in sexual interest, decrease in sexual thoughts, decrease in the willingness to initiate sexual advancements and a decrease of the genital and non genital sensitivity. Physically, the hormonal changes can often lead to vaginal dryness too.
Your pelvic floor muscles can also play an important part in the change. While dryness can become a problem in itself, during pregnancy your pelvic floor and the pelvic structures suffer some changes. Although some pelvic floors can become “tight” ( and therefore painful with sex) in response to the increased weight and body changes, others can become easily fatigued and problems such as prolapse and urinary incontinence can surge. Urinary incontinence and prolapse are two major factors that have a tremendous impact on body image.
Body image can also play a large part in the decrease in sexual interest. Many studies show a positive association between body image and sexual interest, meaning that the better you feel about your body, the more interested you become in engaging in sex.
On top of all of this, some studies point that about 80% of women during pregnancy feel some type of lower back discomfort. Pain in itself can be an important factor in the unwillingness to participate in sexual activity. It is important to treat the pain as soon as possible and to work with the mother-to-be and her partner, in order to bring function and movement back. This ideally will promote mobility that will help towards sexuality.
Sex in pregnancy has wonderful benefits