Couple/Sexuality

The lonely side of pregnancy: Low sex drive and its potential effects on your relationship

Pregnancy is supposed to be one of the happiest times in yours and your partner’s life. Here’s how to keep it that way when your sex drive takes a hit.

In the midst of one of the happiest times of your life, a dark cloud sets in: your libido takes a hard hit, and so do your man’s. Surveys have shown that there’s no golden rule about one’s sex drive during pregnancy: it can increase, decrease or remain exactly the same. It really just depends on the person.

Men

For women, it’s easy to blame a lower sex drive on hormonal changes during pregnancy. The same, however, can’t be said for men. Emotions tend to play an equally important role as hormones do when it comes to sex drive, which is unfortunate because they definitely aren’t the easiest things to control.

Stephanie, a mother in her mid-30s, saw her pregnancy cause a loss of sexual desire in both her and her partner. The couple talked about it, but neither of them could really pinpoint why. “During my first pregnancy, my husband’s sex drive crashed and didn’t return to normal until I got back to my usual pre-pregnancy weight,” she recalls. “We didn’t have sex for more than a year. Now I’m five months pregnant with our second child and we are experiencing the same problem.”

Whatever the reason for their conundrum, they both agreed it was making them very unhappy—to the point where pregnancy became a burden rather than a bonding experience. “We’ve been together for 15 years and we consider ourselves soul mates. We love each other very much, but this problem creates unbearable tension and completely ruins the joy of being pregnant,” Stephanie says.

“To me, pregnancy is the unpleasant downside to having my little angel. Even though we both want our baby, being pregnant doesn’t bring me any excitement. I feel fat, ugly and repulsive. It makes me upset to the point where I start resenting my husband.”

Even in a long-term relationship full of strength and support, pregnancy can cause this type of reaction in men. Reasons vary from the classic case of the mother figure replacing the sexy woman, the soon-to-be mother’s weight gain, the expectant father’s fear of hurting the baby or even a combination of the three, which greatly affects the man’s sex drive.

“My husband doesn’t understand why he feels this way,” Stephanie explains. “During my first pregnancy, we tried several times without success. He was aware it upset me a lot and felt more pressure, but then things became even worse. Thankfully, our love is very strong and I have faith in us.”

Stephanie decided to take matters into her own hands. Instead of seeing herself as “fat, ugly and repulsive,” she decided to change her image in order to change the way she perceives herself and help her husband see her as attractive again.

“I went shopping last weekend and I bought clothes that I knew my husband would like. Skirts, dresses—the most feminine things I can find. When I got home, I showed off my new clothes for him. He really enjoyed it and was actually very turned on, allowing us to finally make love again.”

Sex and sexuality are two very different things. Even if your sex drive is dramatically lower during pregnancy, you can still find ways to fulfill the need for other forms of intimacy, such as cuddling and kissing. Read more about these issues on www.sexualityandu.ca

Women

As a woman’s belly size goes up, her sex drive can often go in a completely other direction.

Generally speaking, women see fluctuations in their sex drive as their pregnancies progress. Libido often lowers in the first trimester, increases in the second, and decreases again in the third when fatigue and extra weight gain put a big strain on things.

In 2010, a Canadian study surveyed 1,049 women about their sexual desire during pregnancy. The results showed a 56% decrease in sex drive, while 46% thought intercourse was harmful during pregnancy and 29% had discussed sexuality with their doctors while pregnant.

Elysa, 34, explains that prior to becoming pregnant, she and her husband had sex several times a week. Since the beginning of her pregnancy, however, her sex drive has disappeared.

“When I’m pregnant, forget it. Zero sex drive,” she says. “I don’t even think about it. I have sex just to please him.”

Pregnant women are mostly affected by changes in physical appearance, causing them to question their ability to still seduce their partner. Chances are, if you’re feeling bad about yourself, that’s likely how others will see you as well.

“I gained weight really quickly, I’m tired all the time and would rather sleep than make love,” explained Elysa, who believes her husband is adjusting well to the situation. “Of course, he would like it if we made love more often, but he says he understands. I just hope my sex drive comes back after giving birth!”

It isn’t easy to feel good about your looks every single day, but by reminding yourself “I am beautiful, I am womanly, I am desirable,” you will start to believe it. This change in attitude often results in a change in your partner’s perception of you as well.

If fatigue is causing intimacy problems, you might also consider changing your routine. Add more naps to your schedule, ask your partner to take over some of the chores and give yourself some much needed time to rest.

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