Sexual Dysfunction When Your Partner Is Pregnant: A Guide for Men
Sex during pregnancy may not be something you're comfortable discussing with your partner. Maybe you're anxious about safe and comfortable sexual positions, or feeling overwhelmed and distracted about the prospect of becoming a parent. Or it's completely possible you find yourself less attracted to your partner's pregnant body than expected.
While lots of men report increased sexual drive during a partner's pregnancy, it's normal for men to experience a decline in sex drive or performance, too.
Sexual dysfunction in men during pregnancy is real
You should know that you're definitely not the only one in the partnership who can't always get in the mood during pregnancy. However, it's not so easy for men to read up about this situation, as much of the information available is anecdotal rather than scientific.
Sexual dysfunction in women during pregnancy is well-researched, expected and understandable—after all, it's the woman's body that's been bombarded by hormones and physical and psychological changes from the moment the sperm met the egg. Of course, this doesn't mean guys aren't affected by this massive change in the relationship, too, but they may have to get creative and find information on forums and discussions on social media, instead of medical and scientific journals.
Here's something, though: A 2014 study published in the American Journal of Human Biology found first-time expectant dads experienced a drop in the hormones testosterone and estradiol while their partners were pregnant. Those who experienced the largest drops in hormones were the ones who appeared the most attentive and supportive of their partners and babies after birth. Of course, decreased levels of testosterone, the male sex hormone, could also account for a decrease in sex drive during a partner's pregnancy.
Being honest with your partner is important
If you're not in the mood to have sex with your partner, but she is, the worst move you can make is to shut down intimacy without talking about the issue. If you're worried about the baby and whether sex is safe, tell your partner. Then come up with a game plan to talk to her obstetrician about any questions or concerns you have.
If you're feeling especially stressed out about money, resources or the wherewithal to become a dad, shutting down without expressing your fears is not going to foster a team-like relationship. Being open and honest about budget, finances, home and work life, and how you'll manage it all with a new baby in the house, is critical to handling the coming changes.
And if you're less attracted to your partner's body, there are ways to talk about physical changes without hurting feelings. Try asking her how she's feeling about her body. Tell her she is beautiful, womanly, sexy—whatever vocabulary makes sense to you to express honest opinions that she might appreciate. But feel free to discuss how astounding it is to watch nature at work and how the changes are throwing off your normal habits and responses. Chances are, she's feeling the same, and this may be an opportunity to talk about physical touch and intimacy, without sex, in ways that can build and nurture the bond between you.
There's no need for guilt or shame if you're not "feeling it" during your partner's pregnancy, but you should not pretend the issue doesn't exist. Talking to your partner, her doctor or a couples therapist can help you stay on the same page and keep your relationship strong. You're going to need that strength as you both prepare to welcome your new baby to the family.