Sex during pregnancy

My wife is three months pregnant. Is it okay for us to have sex? I feel embarrassed to ask our family doctor. We are avoiding sexual contact; but I do feel the urge for sex. What do we do?

This is one of the most common questions posed by couples expecting their first child. Their lack of knowledge regarding the correct method, timing and frequency cause varied misconceptions and at times, a total withdrawal from sex. This often backfires, as the woman, owing to her psychological state and emotional needs, fails to understand the behavioural changes in her partner. Here's what to expect.

Emotions on high

During pregnancy, a woman's mental make-up undergoes a dramatic change. She becomes emotional and sometimes oversensitive. The way her needs are acknowledged (or dismissed) affects her mental state and thereby the foetus as well. If she feels that her husband is not adequately responsive, she may get irritable, and suffer from insomnia,loss of appetite or over-stimulated hunger.

Most men are unaware that their behaviour often causes these emotional upheavals. Many take the easy way out and take their wife to the doctor, without realising that she simply needs her husband to understand her moods, feelings and anxieties.

Discrepancy in sex drives

The changes taking place in the mother-to-be are part of her biological make-up. Hormonal and chemical changes prepare her for conception, pregnancy and childbearing. The awareness that she is pregnant creates new aspirations and sexual relations go down the priority ladder. There is, however, no such biological change in the man. He needs to make himself aware of the physical and emotional demands of fatherhood, but continues to feel the urge for intercourse. In such a situation, it is essential that he does not force this one-sided need on his pregnant wife.

For intercourse

Though a woman may not have strong sexual urges, she does need warm and gentle physical contact and caressing. In the process, if she is aroused and willing, they can have intercourse too. However...

- Avoid the missionary (man-superior) position. Woman on top position is advisable, or they both could be in a sitting position, so that there is no pressure on her abdomen and that movement is gentle.

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