Although sex in pregnancy is usually safe, many men find their sexual relationship with their partner changes. You might notice the change most in the early months of pregnancy.

Having sex in pregnancy

The golden rule for sex during pregnancy is that if the pregnancy is going smoothly and you and your partner are keen, it’s fine. But most men find that they have less sex when they’re expecting a baby.

Sex during pregnancy can feel quite different from how it felt before. You might also worry that sex will harm the baby. But your baby is well protected and sealed off in the amniotic sac, so you can’t hurt your baby by having sex.

If you’re unsure about anything or if there are any problems – for example, your partner has some bleeding during pregnancy – talk with your GP, midwife or obstetrician. They’ll tell you whether it’s OK to have sex.

I pretty much held out. I suppose I didn’t want to mess with the process. If she had requested it, I would have been more than happy to oblige, but I tried to, you know, take one for the team.
– Roger, expectant dad (30 weeks)

Sex in pregnancy: early months

In the first trimester, you might discover that nausea, fatigue and sex just don’t go together for your partner. If you try to imagine how your partner is feeling physically, it might be easier to understand why she might be less interested in sex. Sore breasts and bloating are other reasons why your partner might not feel up to it.

In the two-month period where she was so sick, I’d come home a couple of times, and she’d say, ‘If I wasn’t feeling so sick, I’d feel like sex today’. Apart from that, she’s been completely out of the mood for the whole time.
– Roger, expectant dad (30 weeks)

Less sex, more massage

If you and your partner are used to having sex often and this suddenly stops or drops off in pregnancy, you might feel frustrated or annoyed. Or you might just accept it.

Either way, the trick is to not let your sexual grumpiness get the better of you but to look at other ways of being close to your partner and focusing on your relationship.

The only thing that really brought us close in that time was massaging her feet and her legs and her lower back and stuff like that. My wife appreciated it. Blokes don’t think about it, but it’s hard not being able to touch your own toes. Women go through a lot of discomfort, so wherever men can help, I think it’s key that we do that. Pregnancy isn’t forever.
– Mick, father of one

Things you can do

  • Try to put your partner’s needs first and think about how she’s feeling. Nausea, vomiting, bloating and sore breasts are some reasons why she might not feel like having sex. She might prefer just to be held, touched or massaged.
  • It might help to discuss any sexual frustration with your partner, so you can each understand what the other is going through.
  • Be patient – not having sex with your partner can be frustrating, but it’s not forever.

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Last updated or reviewed
09-08-2016

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Raising Children Network is supported by the Australian Government. Member organisations are the Parenting Research Centre and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute with The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health.

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